Thursday, July 31, 2008

The smaller birds at the Coast Guard station

To see the Brandt's Cormorants and brown pelicans in Monterey was plenty exciting. I can't believe I was so close to the brown pelicans, close enough to zoom in on my little point and shoot camera and get good shots. My other experience has been seeing pelicans way out in the bay or ocean -- so far that the zoom on my point and shoot still couldn't bring the birds close enough to get a decent shot. Anyway, seeing these two species was so cool it was worth the trip. But I also got shots of other birds, and some I could not get. When we first walked on the pier I saw a black-crowned night heron perched on a piling. And by the time I got my camera out he flew off. That was another incident where the bird was closer than I have ever been to a BCNH. Another bird we saw, but was moving too fast for me to get any decent pictures was a swallow. What kind of swallow? Well, I'm not sure. But by process of elimination we think it was a northern rough-winged swallow. But because I'm not positive I won't count it on my life list. The other birds we saw but didn't bother to get pictures of were Canada geese. The geese were located between the parking lot and one of the historical buildings adjacent to the trail and Fisherman's Wharf.

Be sure to click on the photos to see larger images.

Now here are a couple of shots of a dark colored bird about the size of a mourning dove. Red and I have been trying to figure out if these were ruddy or black turnstones. But my Stokes guide says black turnstones have a white spot between their eyes and bill. The other marking that was noticed was the color of their legs/feet. Ruddies have yellowish feet, and black turnstones have dark colored legs/feet.
So now I can add another lifer - black turnstone. And just look at the photo below. This one took off as I was snapping the picture. Look at that beautiful pattern of black/brown and white. Now the crazy thing about this shot is that this bird's feet look more on the yellow side than dark brown/black. So now you can see how we have been confused as to which turnstone. But for now I'll still say they were all black turnstones.

Now here is another bird who was hanging around in the same location as the turnstones. And at first I didn't even realize it was a different species. But this one's head looked different. Its back looked so similar to a turnstone, but this bird had very yellow feet.
And this shot shows how speckled its head and breast are. So here is another lifer - a surfbird. I think both turnstones and surfbirds are really very pretty, especially when they are in flight.
While watching the pelicans in flight over the bay we also saw a few kayakers enjoying their time kayaking around the bay. And while we were watching the pelicans and kayakers we saw periodically something jumping out of the water. Eventually we realized it was a couple of dolphins putting on a show for the kayakers. Can you imagine the experience? Oh, if only I could have been out there on the bay in a kayak.


Linda in Erie said...

Very interesting post about the turnstones and surfbird. I am unfamiliar with shore birds (to me everything is a seagull)but they are starting to interest me. Wouldn't a kayak be fun?! Think how close you could get to the wildlife. We go out in our canoe into the lagoons here and see so much more wildlife than we would otherwise but kayaks would be so much better. So quietly you could sneak up and get great photos. The starfish is so cool!

Ruth said...

What a challenge to ID these shorebirds. But your pictures are excellent and therefore you were successful.

RuthieJ said...

Gosh Mary, you and Red saw some really neat birds! I love that picture of the flying turnstone--not what I expected to see from what appeared to be a plain brown bird!

Shellmo said...

What a great birding day you had! Enjoyed the photos.

Mary said...

Mary, I enlarged each of them and what a treat it is. For me, all lifers, you know.

You mentioned dolphins. Oh my, I miss the beach SO MUCH.

Thanks for sharing birds I might not ever see.


zhakee said...

Hi Mary, thanks for wishing me a good trip! It was, thanks.

Your talk of pelicans and trying to get close enough for a photo reminds me of taking kayaks out on Morro Bay a couple of years ago and having pelicans on the water all around us. Those things are HUGE, like human sized, and they plop down on the water in the most ungainly manner. We rented kayaks that day and got quite close to them.

Mary C said...

Ooh, somehow I missed everybody's comments here. Sorry about that.

Linda - thanks for stopping by. And BTW I enjoyed reading about your canoeing on the lake. That is so cool. Can you imagine canoeing out in the bay and seeing a dolphin or two leaping up out of the water only about 10 feet from you? Wow! I sure hope one of these days I'll get to do some kayaking or canoeing. You are so right about getting so much closer to the wildlife, and they don't seem to be intimidated by humans out in the water. I guess they are so "at home" in their natural surroundings.

Thanks, Ruth. I'm still a beginner when it comes to a lot of birds, and shorebirds is one group I still have a lot of learning to do. But now I have Red quite interested that putting two heads together is a bit easier with IDs.

Ruthie, you said it so well. I would have never thought to see such a beautiful design on a so-called brownish looking bird. ;o)

Shelley, thanks so much for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. I've been enjoying yours, too, but haven't left too many comments lately.

Oh Mary, we need to meet one of these days and go to the ocean and see how many lifers we can find! ;o) All of these birds were lifers for me, too.

Hi Zhakee! I'm so glad you had a good trip. I didn't realize you had gone to Yosemite. Such a beautiful part of God's country, isn't it? It sounds like you saw some of the most beautiful parts of Yosemite. Tuolumne meadows has so much to offer. You sure made me laugh when you described your kayaking on Morro Bay. That sounds like so much fun. I didn't know kayaking was offered there in Morro Bay. I did know it's offered in Monterey Bay. While we were there last week, there was a pelican over Red's head and she had her larger lens on her camera and it was funny that the bird was too big and too close for her to get a decent shot. ;o)

Amber Coakley said...

Hi Mary - I am a newbie in every sense: new to blogging, new-ish to birding, and this is my first IATB. This is also my first comment so far, reading through this IATB - and I got the most excited about the starfish! I love seeing how birds interact with other wildlife and their environment. Cool!

Mary C said...

Hi Amber - welcome to the blogging world. You may find it quite addictive. It's so much fun to share with others who have the same or similar interests. Funny you mentioned about the starfish. My daughter, Red was the one that pointed it out to me. And she mentioned in her blog about the bird pecking at the starfish. If you'd like to visit her blog where she mentioned it, go to

I'll be sure to stop by your blog, too.

Larry said...

You took some really nice photos on this one-and some impressive birds!-I haven't been visiting blogs much lately so I missed these great photos.-

Mary C said...

Well, Larry, I'm glad you stopped by and took the time to comment. Commenting on everyone's blogs can be time consuming. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. Red and I had a really good day and really enjoyed getting photos of these birds. They are so attractive, especially in flight. And the next time I'm in Monterey I'll probably look for them again.


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