Monday, December 16, 2013

Birds in Paradise

Weedpicker has escaped the cold of Ohio for a week-plus trip to sunny California to visit Shark-girl, my daughter who is an aquarist working at Aquarium of the Pacific.  We toured around a bit in Santa Monica and enjoyed balmy 70 + degree weather.  Of course I am smitten with the botany, but have little knowlegde of California plants.  There may be more non-native plants growing in California than there are native plants.  These warm zones can be a botanical challenge.

Bird of Paradise
 Some plants I recognize from my years in the florist trade. Birds of Paradise, Strelitzia reginae, seem to bloom in every park and garden.
Santa Monica from Ocean Ave.
The traffic is rather intense, but I manage to head directly to the oceanfront parks and beaches.  There is much beauty to be found, even in these urban environments.

Fully equipped BSBO backpack.
A fully prepared urban birder takes a backpack equipped with layers of clothing, water, sunscreen and bird field guides. One surfer even commented on my nifty BSBO back pack, expressing some awe that I was a "birder" and continued to  ask me about warbler migration. 

Heermann's Gull
 The main order of business was to find a Heermann's Gull.  It is a west coast gull that I have been dreaming of seeing on this trip.  This stunning gull has a white head (in breeding plumage) and a distinctive orange bill with a black tip.  Juveniles are all smokey dark, with a back bill.  They are close in size to our common Ring-billed Gull.

Heermann's Gulls breed to the south of California in Mexico and migrate north for winter.  Their population is considered near threatened, and 90- 95 percent of them all breed on one island. Isla Raza has recently been protected in an attempt to stabilize their numbers. 

One Heerrmann's in a sea of Western Gulls

Another "life gull" (since I have never been on the west coast before) was the stately Western Gull.
It is a large-bodied bird with a dark mantle, yellow bill and distinctive pink legs.

It is of no small concern to me that I have arrived at a stage of birdiness that I enjoy sorting gulls on the beach.  Who knows what depravities I will succumb to next?

I am headed back to the beach today, maybe I will get better photos of the sea lion "surfing" just off shore. Maybe not. Either way, it is all an adventure to me.

No comments:

Post a Comment