Friday, October 28, 2011

Shore Birds, Monterey Bay, Asilomar Shore

Our weekly Bird Walks continue with a productive day along the Bay in Pacific Grove, California. The Point Pinos Lighthouse is one of the oldest continuously operating lighthouses on the California coast. It is always a welcome sight.
These shots are all taken with a Nikon D7000 with a 300mm f/4 lens with a 2.0x teleconverter. Shutter speed is set manually at 1/1000 shooting with the lens wide open at f/8, ISO is variable depending on the available light. We find that this combination does auto-fucus quite well although most references from Nikon and other sources suggest  that focusing is not as fast or reliable. It certainly makes an ideal walk-around combination for documenting the local wildlife. 

Crespi Pond is between the lighthouse and the Bay and we always find Coots in the golf course grass and gulls bathing in the pond.

The shoreline nearby hosts many species. This day was typical as we saw many of the expected birds. There is a constant movement of Brown Pelicans soaring along the shoreline. This first year bird shows the expected lighter coloration.

Working the shoreline are the Willets which are often in small groups and Whimbrels which are usually solitary. 

This day we saw the Ruddy Turnstone that was among a group of Black Turnstones. Here we see a good size comparison between the two species. Wikipedia information on the Ruddy Turnstone can be found here.

We didn't get a good profile shot of the Ruddy Turnstone but this shot shows a bit more detail.

We also saw a grouping of a Surf Bird, a Black Turnstone and a Black-bellied Plover. It was unusual to see all three together.

On the sandy area just above the high tide line we spotted a solitary Western Meadowlark. We got several poses that show the coloration. Although quite common in the western US, this is the first one we have seen along the Monterey Bay Shore. Wikipedia information on the Western Meadowlark can be found here.

The Glaucous-winged Gull is seen far less often along the shore. This example shows the typical "dusty" head coloration that is quite different from the more common Western Gull. Wikipedia information about the Glaucous-winged Gull can be found here.

We often see Great Egrets feeding in the kelp beds offshore but this day we found one feeding right at the waters edge.

Inland Birds, Monterey Bay, Laguna Grande Park, Seaside, California

Now that Fall has arrived, we have begun the weekly bird walks after a summer of fog, marine layer and recovery. This day was overcast like so much of the summer which restricted the quality of the photos. It was our first outing in a while that resulted in seeing this fine example of a Red-shouldered Hawk in a tree that usually is the perch for Eurasian Collared Doves. This day the doves were scarce.

We often see White-fronted Geese in the park. This one was near the volleyball court. Wikipedia information on the White-fronted Goose can be found here.

On the pond we saw more of the expected species like this Eared Grebe.

On the bushes near one of the walking trails we spotted a pair of House Finches. This shot of the male was the best shot we were able to get.

Coots are always on the pond and we enjoy seeing them moving about. Since they are more tame, we get better close-ups of them. This one was a particularly good pose.

There were a few Ruddy Ducks on the pond but none really close. This shot of a female was the best we were able to get this day.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Monterey Bay, Asilomar Shore, Shore BIrds at High Tide

The other day we went out to the Asilomar Shore along Monterey Bay in Pacific Grove and found a particularly productive section of beach at high tide. The birds were working the waters edge which was washing far up onto the beach and dried kelp.
We have been watching Black-bellied Plovers in this ares for several weeks and we find now that they have almost completely finished their late Summer molt. Here we see one of many on the shore, this one in fine winter plumage.

Also in this same stretch of beach we saw two Willets among the other birds.

A solitary Whimbrel was nearby. This one stayed in the area the longest.

There were many Black Turnstones on the beach often very close to the Willets. This one was quite far away and this shot is cropped more than some of the others.

There was one Killdeer right at the waters edge but this one was moving fast (as was the surf) so we only got this compromised shot. We have seen many Killdeers in this general location throughout the summer and fall.

Finally, we saw a solitary Sanderling among the other busy birds.

All these shots were taken with a Nikon D7000, a Nikon 300mm f4 lens with a 2x Teleconverter. We have found that his equipment delivers pretty good image quality while still auto focusing well when there is good light. This day the sun was quite strong.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Monterey Shore Birds, Great Egret - Preening

The other day we were out sitting quietly by Monterey Bay when a Great Egret landed on a nearby rock, displacing a Western Gull that had been enjoying a restful time. We were fortunate that the Great Egret decided to preen his feathers (males and females look alike) so we got several shots of him in various poses. It was a typical summer day in Monterey. The marine layer (fog) was fairly heavy which made a nice back-drop for these shots.

Great Egrets have enjoyed Government protection for over a century and have made a remarkable recovery from being hunted to near extinction for their plumes. Additional information Wikipedia can be found here.

This first pose is  classic. We see Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets often along the Monterey Bay shore of offshore in the kelp beds that provide a significant food source. After feeding, they often come ashore to rest and preen - like this individual did for us. This rock is a favorite perch.

As he started preening first the neck feathers were smoothed.

Then the back feathers.

 And finally the wings - we particularly liked this shot.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monterey Bay Shore Birds, Asilomar Shore, Pacific Grove

After a quiet spell, the Blog continues with a selection of shore birds observed recently along the Monterey Bay shore at the Asilomar State Beach in Pacific Grove, CA.

We first stopped at an area know locally as Cosy Cove, a sheltered cove just off Ocean Drive in Pacific Grove. Along with about a dozen Mallards (not recorded) we saw Black Turnstones, many Starlings, and today a Willet in the sea grass.

This is one of several Black Turnstones that were nearby.

Further along the shore we have been watching the development of two Killdeer chicks that we have seen regularly. It took only  few minutes to spot them again as well as the ever watchful adult. First the adult well camouflaged in the nearby sea grass.

The two chicks were where we have seen them for a few weeks. Note the lack of the red eye ring and also lacking well developed tail feathers. We have not yet seen the chicks attempt to fly.

Then moving to another location nearer to the Asilomar Beach area we found a large group of Black-bellied Plovers resting on the rocks. There was a cool wind coming off the Bay (typical for August) and the Plovers were "tucked in" out of the wind. Information on the Black-bellied Plover can be found here. Wikipedia notes that it is also known as the Grey Plover.

There were two Whimbrels within the group, also resting (but alert) among the Black-bellied Plovers.

We also spotted one Surf Bird within the group.

A productive day!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Black Oystercatchers, Some Closer Nest Views

We have been keeping track of the development of the Black Oystercatcher nest and used a different camera, lens and tripod set-up this weekend. These shots were all taken with a Nikon D7000 with a 500mm f/4 lens, a 1.7 teleconverter and a sturdy tripod. These were shot at 1/1000 @ f8, ISO ~ 500. We have done some cropping and sharpening of the images.

The weather was warm and sunny and the nest sitting was a quiet affair most of the time. We did capture an exchange of nest sitters as the mates loudly announced their need for a change and to get some exercise.

During the exchange of nest sitting.

 Checking to see if the eggs are OK.

 Time for a welcome stretch.
Getting settled again.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Black Oystercatchers Nesting; Another Day, Another Adventure

Today we checked back again and found a visiting Swiss family right at the base of the Oystercatcher nesting rock. We waited patiently for the three young boys to climb all over the neighboring rocks but fortunately they didn't disturb the nesting. The male and female didn't call attention to themselves by changing nesting duties or doing any of their typical loud calling.

We got a nice sequence from a slightly different angle and today we were able to see the eggs more clearly. We start with one of the nesting pair on the nest which was adandoned for a short time. The mate apparently didn't respond so the original nest "sitter" went back "on duty" until the family moved  on. This first shot is just before the eggs were exposed.

 The eggs were unattended only briefly.

The "sitter" went to the top of the nearby rock and called only once - got no reply and resumed the nesting duty. Nice Pose at the top of the rock.

Getting settled back onto the eggs - very carefully - this time for about 40 minutes.

Finally the mate arrives. The family were standing near me and I briefed them on the exchange of nesting duties that was about the happen.

And not to be disappointed, the nesting pair exchanged positions.

Finally we left with another nice pose. We will check often to see how thy are doing. By our count, the hatching could take almost two more weeks. We read that gestation can be from 24 to 28 days. We make this about day 10 so far.