Saturday, Septermber 13, 2008:
Sarah was in a nearby salon, getting a trial up-do and make-up in preparation for our upcoming wedding, so I whiled away a couple of lovely hours at Carmel River State Beach.
A large group of Harley-Davidson enthusiasts congregated in the parking lot as I arrived, shortly departing in a roar of un-muffled exhaust, but it was otherwise pretty quiet at this great birding location.
A huge flock of gulls congregated between the lagoon at the mouth of Carmel River and the ocean, numbering in the many-hundreds. It was mostly composed of California Gulls, with a large number of Heermann’s Gulls, which kept to themselves mostly, and a sprinkling of Western Gulls, obvious by their much-larger size.
A couple of Western Sandpipers skulked at the lagoon’s edge, but it was mostly quiet here, so I turned my attention to the gull flock and the ocean’s edge.
On our previous visit, I had “seen” Elegant Terns, but couldn’t really count them as a lifer, as they were very distant, and they weren’t distinguishable, but this time I got close. It also helped that I had binoculars and a telephoto lens with me! So… *LIFER!*
The Elegant Tern colony was perhaps a hundred strong, and I enjoyed long and close looks at this pretty seabird. Although a passing wildlife enthusiast said she’d been told that the adults had all left, this was not the case, as their bright orange bills were conspicuous among the paler yellow of the juveniles.
Elegant Tern Colony
At the water’s edge, I had to walk through the gull flock, which parted noisily and quickly re-formed behind me. A handful of Marbled Godwits and a couple of Willets foraged at the waterline, and Brandt’s Cormorants and a lone Great Egret were farther out in the surf.
Brown Pelicans were constantly flying to and fro, mingling with the gulls, and splashing in the lagoon’s waters. Although the overcast conditions weren’t ideal, I did manage to get a few good flight shots of these prehistoric beauties.
A small group of Sanderlings rested just past the tideline, then burst into action, little black and white wind-up birds.
A cooperative Marbled Godwit gave me very good views and even posed for a few portraits.
What I initially thought to be another Sanderling turned out to be a Snowy Plover. This bird, whose Western race is endangered, blends in very well, and is so often the case, once I saw one, I quickly spotted several more.
Stealth Snowy Plover
About an hour into my stroll, the clouds cleared and blue skies burst out, but it was nearing time to pick Sarah up, so I began to make my way back toward the car. There were many birds, and a good number of them allowed a close approach, so I was able to get some good photographs on my return:
Carmel River mouth
Lots of gulls!
Brown Pelican in the gull flock
More Elegant Terns
Carmel River Lagoon
My walk ended as it began, with a crimson-billed Heermann’s Gull. I ‘ll have to make a point to come to Carmel River State Beach more often when we’re in the area, as it’s a nice intimate area with excellent scenery, and good bird photography opportunities!
Observation date: 9/13/08
Number of species: 20
Mallard – Anas platyrhynchos 3
Pacific Loon – Gavia pacifica 1
Eared Grebe – Podiceps nigricollis 1
Brown Pelican – Pelecanus occidentalis 50
Brandt’s Cormorant – Phalacrocorax penicillatus 10
Double-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus 8
Great Egret – Ardea alba 2
Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura 3
Snowy Plover – Charadrius alexandrinus 4
Black Oystercatcher – Haematopus bachmani 1
Greater Yellowlegs – Tringa melanoleuca 3
Willet – Tringa semipalmata 2
Marbled Godwit – Limosa fedoa 5
Sanderling – Calidris alba 5
Western Sandpiper – Calidris mauri 4
Least Sandpiper – Calidris minutilla 2
Heermann’s Gull – Larus heermanni 75
Western Gull – Larus occidentalis 250
Elegant Tern – Thalasseus elegans 80
American Crow – Corvus brachyrhynchos 2
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)