Monday, January 2, 2012

Birds I'm Watching: Carmel, Monterey, San Simeon (December 29, 2011-January 1, 2012)

On a short trip at year-end, showing around friends visiting from Japan, I went to Carmel, Monterey, and San Simeon, going to the Hearst Castle for the first time in many years.

I got up early to do a little bird watching each morning. I enjoyed seeing Heermann's Gulls at all three locations, in both breeding and non-breeding plumage. These are birds that have already left our area (Sonoma County) for the year and that rarely show up there in breeding plumage with their snowy white heads, scarlet bills, charcoal backs, and jet black legs. These are among the most beautiful of the gulls.

At the Best Western Hotel a few miles from San Simeon, I took an early walk on the beach and was rewarded with one of those memorable birding moments: At one point I could see two Wrentits, a Song Sparrow, a Lincoln's Sparrow, a Hermit Thrush, a Snowy Egret, a Spotted Sandpiper, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, a Say's Phoebe, and a Black Phoebe without turning my head. The Say's Phoebe posed for me (left). Other birds I saw included Least Sandpipers, Marbled Godwits, a lone Black-bellied Plover, the Heermann's Gulls, American Crow, and American Pipit. One strange sight was numerous Great Egrets apparently standing on the water, well offshore. They were actually standing on kelp mats, hunting for fish. I've never seen Great Egrets out at sea before.

For information about bird watching in Sonoma County, see my Website Sonoma County Bird Watching Spots.

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