Thursday, February 18, 2016

Birding the Morro Bay Marina

 The morning was perfect.  The tide, having been quite high at 6:00 am was on the way out.  The pickleweed was very wet, not only from the tide but from the 1/2 in. of rain we received last night.  The mud was very wet, reflecting the sun light - ideal conditions for a variety of birds to feed. 

From the boardwalk one could see thousands of birds.  Feeding in the pickleweed were Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, and 300 or so Brant Goose.  The Brant chat continually as they feed - a soft and pleasing sound.    Can you find the Snow Goose?
 Of course, here and there is a Great-blue Heron, an Egret, a few Canada Goose, Avocet, flocks of Sandpiper, and scads of shorebirds; on a distant sandbar 18 Harbor seals sunned themselves and I had not yet walked 20 feet. 

Much fun watching two Long-billed Curlew engaged in a heated discussion.  A Merlin was perched atop of one of the two scraggly pine trees located on the bay side of the boardwalk. Twice it flew off, returning within a few minutes to the same twig - quite a treat as Merlin sightings are not frequent.  
While focused on the Merlin, deep in the brush came a flutter of activity and the alarm call of a male ( photo) Quail - a Cooper's Hawk had swooped down on a covey of Quail.   The Cooper's Hawk captures a bird with its feet and will squeeze it repeatedly to kill it.  Fortunately for the little covey, the Hawk was not successful.  The flurry of excitement happened in just a few seconds.   
In the Marina (above) were Bufflehead, Scaup, Surf Scoter, Eared Grebe, Kingfisher, an Osprey calling, and my very special, always feeding in the mud along the edge of the favorite,.....a......Spotted Sandpiper.  Birding the Morro Bay Marina this morning was a premium experience. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Birding Cloisters Park and Beyond

I entered the park at the east end of the path.  The wintry shrubbery was alive with birds, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Spotted Towhee, House Finch, Anna's Hummingbird, American Goldfinch, Bushtit.  White-crowned Sparrow was singing its little heart out; in the distance an answering song, sounded much like an echo.  Be still my heart.  So many birds and I had only walked a few feet.  Along the path were California Towhee, Golden-crowned Sparrow, and more White-crowned Sparrow.  Six Mallard were swimming peacefully in a narrow drainage ditch.
I was following the path to the beach. 
Extreme tides, together with the surge of powerful waves, had deeply eroded the dunes.  Few clusters of seaweed which was interesting; that meant no flies for the birds to eat.  Maybe that is why the only birds on the beach this morning were ones with longer bills that are able to probe the sand.
The shore birds were busy following the ebb and flow of the surf. Willet (photo), Godwit, Long-billed Curlew, Whimbrel.  Small flocks of Sanderling were busy feeding along the edge of the surf, and dashing here and there on the beach. (photo)
Their tiny feet moving so fast it was mind boggling.   The 13 second video shows how the Sanderling were dashing about the beach.
 As I was following the route waves (photo) had taken into the dunes, a small flock of Dunlin swooped overhead.  After a few twists and turns I came upon an area of small ponds, a remnant of the powerful surge that had forced its way into the dunes.  My sudden presence caused a flock of Western Sandpiper to take flight.

Back in the park there was a Willet in the grass and, one of my favorites, a Say's Phoebe perched on a bench.  The murky pond, was very quiet, three Coots, one male Mallard and a few Red-winged Blackbird.  Perhaps on my next visit to the Cloisters' pond the boisterous Great-tailed Grackle will be in residence and my sweet friend, the Sora, will make an appearance.