Sunday, January 18, 2015

Bird Festival Birding

The Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival is an annual 4 day event to celebrate birds, birds, and more birds.  My friend Cathy arrived from Palm Spring to join in on the festivities. She was scheduled for a field trip, a workshop, and to help with the evening's reception.  Fortunately she had nothing planned for the morning.  

Our first stop - The Morro Bay Marina
Birders with binocs, scopes, and cameras were everywhere. To say the birds were cooperative is an understatement.  They must have known that this was the Bird Festival Weekend.  Immediately we saw Pintail, Lesser Scaup, 3 species of Grebe, Ruddy Duck, Bufflehead, Shoveler, and the "pièce de résistance," a glorious Red-tailed Hawk eating a Coot under a Pine tree.  Now how often does one have the opportunity to observe a scene like that?  In the above photo Cathy and a birding photographer are focused on the Red-tailed Hawk.  It had finished its meal and was perched on a branch watching the birders.

In addition to the plethora of water birds, there was also Spotted Sandpiper, Savannah Sparrow, Fox Sparrow and Ms. Black Phoebe.
In the above photo, Field Trip leader Rich Hansen awaits the arrival of his fledglings birders.  Little do the fledglings realize that they are going to have the birding experience of a lifetime.

Onward to Baywood.  At the northeastern edge of the bay we discovered Dowitcher, Dunlin (I have not seen for ages), a solitary Avocet and a flock of resting Sanderling.  The highlight of the morning occurred off the Sweet Springs overlook.  A perfect ebbing tide allowed for memorable viewing of dozens of dabblers feeding with their feathered bottoms pointeing toward the sky.  Undoubtedly our Bird Festival Birding was the best birding ever.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Day of the Oystercatcher

Mid morning - Montaña de Oro Bluff Trail - The resident Black Oystercatchers were carrying on something fierce - in groups of four to six, they were flying noisily between rock formations, and I do mean noisily. (above photo - Oystercatcher habitat)

Their high piercing sound, which makes them easy to identify, can be heard at a distance of at least a 1/4 mile.  The Oystercatchers were very active along the bluffs this warm, spring like morning.
Fortune shined when the opportunity arose to observe two separate flocks of four, flying between formations.  The lead pair would find a suitable rock and land. The second pair looking like they were going to land in the same area, would suddenly veer off to a nearby, but not close, rock. (Oystercatcher pair by Mike Baird)
Being a romantic at heart I thought this behavior might indicate the beginning of the breeding season, as fledged juveniles do not go off on their own until the next breeding season.  Perhaps this behavior was an indication that breeding season was near and that the juveniles now have to face the reality that adulthood is just around the next rock. (flying Oystercatchers by Mike Baird)

Today, Black Oystercatchers dominated the scene.  I wonder what tomorrow will bring.