Friday, August 27, 2010

Something Different

On Sunday, Aug. 22, I wanted to try some different birding to turn up some new species for the year. I got up early to cycle over to the trail which winds along the edge of the bluffs, high over the ocean, just north of the Spooner's Cove beach at Montana de Oro State Park. This has been a good place to scope the ocean and it was a nice clear morning with good visibility. I got there and set up my scope by 8 AM. It was quiet birdwise. I stood and searched the visible ocean for birds. There were a few scattered Sooty Shearwaters flying by, flashing their silvery wing linings as they stiffly travelled back and forth, low to the water. A few alcids also passed by, mostly heading south. At least a couple were Common Murres. I also found some Pacific Loons, Red-throated Loons, a Red-necked Phalarope, Surf Scoters and other assorted common species. Then I saw something exciting - a new sighting for the year even if it was not a bird. I saw a big high blow of a whale and saw a very large dark shape on the surface. I watched it in the scope for several minutes and it was not the shape of a Humped Back or Gray Whale. Then I saw it begin to dive - its body kept coming and coming and then a very small dorsal fin and no fluke (tail) showed. It was a huge Blue Whale!!!! I had only seen one once before and this was really exciting! (Birds, what birds?!)

I left after about an hour of sea watching since the birding was a little slow. I went home to pack for kayaking and then cycled over to the Morro Bay State Park Marina to meet Ross Schaefer for some paddling on the bay and hopefully some different species. We were on the lookout for different shorebirds, terns, and herons. The terns were present in number - Caspian, Elegant, Royal, Forster's, and Common. The shorebirds were frustrating as we could not get close to many in the kayak due to the tide. Just as we had almost returned to the marina Ross spotted a grayish looking godwit, but it was such a quick look that we could not definitively say that it was a different species of godwit than the usual Marbled. Common Tern was new for my BIGBY, so it was not a total waste of kayaking and birding.

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