On the Central Coast, the fall/winter season is fantastic. Migrating birds arrive daily - some species plentiful and other species diminished due to climate change. Every bird that does arrive, whether a tiny Sandpiper, a Ruddy Duck or a Brant Goose, is a joy to behold. Morro Bay Marina - The tide was on the ebb (above). Feeding in the soft, damp sand were Long-billed Curlew, Willet, Whimbrel, 12 tiny least Sandpiper, and my favorite winter migrant, a Spotted Sandpiper - a very dependable bird. Every winter season, it is exactly where I expect it to be - feeding in the wet sand on the south side of the Marina. Three Pied-Billed Grebe were constantly diving while a female Kingfisher dashed noisily back and forth. In a tree at the east end of the Marina perched a Red-tailed Hawk.
The high tide had inundated the pickleweed (below photo) leaving many little pools and rivulets of water. Four Cinnamon Teal, one male, three females were feeding as they walked through the pickleweed; last year Cinnamon Teal were sparse. Perhaps we will get more Cinnamon Teal this year.
The scrub brush was quiet, California Quail (photo) White-crowned Sparrow, Bewick's Wren, Savannah Sparrow, and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher that was near enough to touch. A great photo op. and my camera was in the car.
At Sweet Springs, earlier in the morning, a Warbler feeding frenzy was in progress. As I entered the preserve a young woman had stopped to watch the frenzy. She sat down by the trail and watched Yellow-rumped and Townsend Warbler dashing back and forth in pursuit of teensy flying insects that had just hatched. The Warblers landed many times in a small bush that was right beside her. She was truly enjoying the happening.
In the pond, hanging out with the Mallards, were two pair of Green-winged Teal, the smallest North American duck.
From the overlook, a huge flock of ducks, Green and Blue-winged Teal, Ruddy Duck, Bufflehead, Wigeon, Northern Pintail (below), Northern Shoveler, and a rare bird to Morro Bay, a duck that breeds in prairie potholes, the Canvasback - my first view of a Canvasback on Morro Bay (yeah!).
While concentrating on the ducks, I heard a familiar sound, Brant Goose (below), not the thousands that used to winter in Morro Bay, but a flock of eight. Their primary food, eelgrass has declined 97% in the last eight years. The Morro Bay National Estuary Assoc. has an excellent article on the decline of Eelgrass in Morro Bay.
It is painful to think of the Brant, as hunting season begins - Monday, November 9, and continues for 37 days.