Posted by: atowhee | April 30, 2011


I was co-leader of a birding trip on Tomales Bay, part of the annual Pt. Reyes Bird Festival.  The wind held off most of the morning and we back ashore for a lunch of chowder in Marshall by noon.  All the expected loons were seen, Red-throated, Pacific and Common.  Many of the latter were getting their breeding plumage in preparation for courtship and mating:

This Common Loon I could get from shore, on-board photos in a small, open boat, bouncing in the waves…nearly impossible.  This individual is about 65% molted into dress formals.  Check the necklace that nearly disappears in fall and winter.

One photo I did get on board: a Red-throated Loon, looking pale and faded.

Rarely could you look up and not see at least one Osprey somewhere over or near the mile-wide Bay.  They are wonderful birds to watch, great fliers, swift and talon-first divers.  Next time your local Libertarians tried to argue that government regulations doesn’t work, remind him the petrochemical industry and its DDT were driving this great bird, Brown Pelicans and Bald Eagles into extinction…until the U.S. banned DDT use (in the 1970s, signed into law by a Republican President!) in the U.S.   Because of that government regulation we now regularly see Osprey in many parts of the country and they’re thriving.

This glamorous couple was nesting beneath a scuzzy boat dock in Marshall.  Their gloss far classier than the human detritus that surrounded them  Is this a great argument for more flying insects, or what?

How great is it to be an open boat and look up to the hills above you, seeing an elk pair a soft brown against the spring-bright green, maybe a small bright lilac-colored ceanothus bush in bloom and creamy white wildflowers dotting the verdure of a three-foot high slope from your nearest beach to the elks’ ridge-top perch?  How great, indeed.  Even made the sea-salt taste sweet.

The elk were on Pierce Point section of Pt. Reyes National Seashore.  The elk are now found in other arts of the this park as well. Another conservation success during my own life-time.

Here’s a previous Pt. Reyes blog, including my best-ever picture of a Hutton’s Vireo.  You just try taking his picture.

Location:     Tomales Bay–west shore
Observation date:     4/30/11
Notes:     Brant at far north end of the Tomales Bay near Tom’s Point and Lawson’s Landing.  That’s where the eel grass grows, that’s what the Brant eat.   Birding done mostly from small open boat as part of PR Bird Festival trip.  Number of species:     36

Brant     X
Mallard     X
Surf Scoter     X
White-winged Scoter     X
Red-breasted Merganser     X
Red-throated Loon     X
Pacific Loon     X
Common Loon     X
Eared Grebe     X
Western Grebe     X
Clark’s Grebe     X
Brandt’s Cormorant     X
Double-crested Cormorant     X
Pelagic Cormorant     X
Great Egret     X
Snowy Egret     X
Turkey Vulture     X
Osprey     X
Northern Harrier     X
Red-shouldered Hawk (California)     X
Red-tailed Hawk (Western)     X
American Coot     X
Spotted Sandpiper     X
Willet     X
Whimbrel (American)     X
Marbled Godwit     X
Sanderling     X
Mew Gull (American)     X
Western Gull     X
Caspian Tern     X
Pigeon Guillemot     X
Belted Kingfisher     X
Common Raven     X
Barn Swallow (American)     X
Cliff Swallow     X
Wrentit     X


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