Tuesday, October 8, 2013
California: Coastal Birding Continued
To continue with my first day of birding in the coastal areas south of Half Moon Bay in California, we had our lunch break at Pescadero Beach. My lunch did not last long as I could not wait to get to the beach to start taking photos and observing birds. The Black Oystercatcher was a new bird for me. I have seen and photographed American Oystercatchers in Puerto Penasco, Mexico, but in this location we found numerous Black Oystercatchers. On this beach, 3 of them paid a visit to us and one of them even took the time to bathe in the surf on the beach. Definitely not a bird to get confused with an identification.
A Western Gull was leisurely swimming in the shallow surf just a short distance off shore and was quite content. Many of the other gulls were perched on some rock islands a short distance off shore or flying overhead. This one made a nice photo op with the deep blue color of the water as a background. A Heerman's Gull also paid a visit on the beach which is one of the easier gulls to identify.
Other birds that paid a visit to this section of the beach were a pair of Sanderlings. This is a fairly common bird on most sand beaches and are best known for their behavior of running back and forth with the waves as they come ashore.
We were also visited by 2 Black-bellied Plovers and 6 Black Turnstones. The Black Turnstones were another new bird for me. Don't know why the group was travelling together, but it made for interesting comparisons on the size difference of these 2 species.
2 Black-bellied Plover and 6 Black Turnstone
2 Black-bellied Plover and 1 Black Turnstone
The biggest surprise and totally unexpected was a Harlequin Duck. This is a species that has its southern most winter range in this area. It would be expected much further north, so this species was quite exciting to find. While it spent most of its time on a rock island a ways off shore, it eventually took to the water and did manage to get a bit closer than the first viewing.
Also seen on the rocky island were the cormorants; the Pelagic Cormorant and Brandt's Cormorant. Since both of these birds were new to me, it was really nice to see both species together on the island which helped to distinguish the differences in the two species.
And to top it off, a nice group of Harbor Seals were sunning themselves on part of the rocky island.
This was definitely a worthwhile stop as many new birds were seen and photographed.