Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Four Play

My wife also wanted to see the King Eider, so off to Cabrillo Beach we went last Saturday, Jan 9th. From our two-hour stay we were treated to wonderful viewings of four different kinds of birds. A brief story accompanies each one:

The Eider has Landed
The juvenile male King Eider at Cabrillo Beach had become some sort of celebrity among birders in Southern California. We met three such birders who drove all the way from San Diego just to see this bird. Earlier that morning the Eider was swimming with some Surf Scoters a hundred feet away from the fishing pier where it usually hangs out. As Cynthia and I focused our attention (and our cameras) to the other avian denizens of the beach, I noticed the Eider slowly swimming towards the shore until it finally landed on terra firma and stood there for a few seconds. Now, all of the pictures of this bird posted in the internet were always showing it on the water. So it was a thrill for us to photograph it on land.

A Loon at Last
One of the very first birds we saw when we arrived at Cabrillo was a Red-throated Loon preening close to the shore. Cynthia and I don't see Loons quite often and seeing one so near and so unperturbed by the presence of human beings was a treat. I have seen one last year at Huntington Central Park but it was sleeping at the edge of the lake which I thought was very unloon-like. Some birders, myself included, even thought that that perticular Red-throated Loon was sick or injured. (Thankfully, it wasn't). But the one we saw at Cabrillo was everything you expect a Loon to be - slick, preening, diving and quite active.

You Make Me Feel Brant New
The Brant was a species that did not make it to my yearlist for 2009. It wasn't there when I first saw the King Eider last Dec. 29th (or I just wasn't aware they were there then..because I just concentrated my efforts on the Eider). So it was a pleasant surprise when Cynthia and I saw not one but five (!) Brants associating with the Gulls by the seashore. The last time I saw one was on a hot summer day in 2007 at Legg Lake.

My Gull (talking about my gull)
The other reason why we came to Cabrillo was to look for the Mew Gull. Again, because I was more intent in seeing the Eider the last time, I did not even bother look at the other species in the area. It was only when I read the postings of the other birders who had been to Cabrillo and mentioned the presence of Mew Gulls that I realized my blunder. Mew Gull would be a lifer for me, you see. After searching diligently at each and every flock of gulls snoozing on the beach, we finally saw our quarry. At least seven of them, actually. It wasn't that difficult picking them out from the numerous Ring-billeds that were in the same flock because Mew Gulls don't have the black spot on their bills (See what a little homework can do?).

It was a bright, albeit windy morning that Saturday.  As we watched huge breakers pound the jetty, we were thankful that we saw the birds we wanted to see. So easy, in fact, it was like child's play.

For other (just as playful?) birding blogs and photographs, please visit:


eileeninmd said...

Great photo, I would love to see the any Eider. You have some great shots of the the Gull, Brant, Loon and the Eider.

Eve said...

That sounds like a great place to watch for birds! What a beautiful set of photos you captured! :)

NatureFootstep said...

beautiful birds all of them. So different from our european ones. Dispite the same species.

Glad you could spot them. It is so pleasing when you finally see "the one",

Anonymous said...

What a great day for birds you had. I've seen a king eider only once, and wasn't able to get a picture.

Larry said...

Very cool Bob! That King Eider would be a lifer for me. Great photo you captured too.

The other shots are all super too. I especially like the Red-throated Loon.

Also, thanks for putting the old tunes in my head (I keep hearing "My Girl" as I type now).

Kelly said...

ohhhhh.....what a wonderful variety of shorebirds. I want to go there!! We're in a deep freeze, and I'm itching to see the lakes thaw... You captured beautiful photos of them.

Anonymous said...

Humor and birding go well together. I just noticed your 'occasional cynic' in your profile..the older I get, the more cynical I get.... Lovely photos..Michelle