Sunday, May 10, 2009

grunion greeting, 2009 #2

grunion (smelt?), western grebe, black-crowned night heron
full moon cycle (11:25pm - 1:05am), clear skies

Love my high quality pics?!? We went out grunion greeting on Del Monte Beach again. Although there are other grunion beaches on the Monterey area list, Del Monte is convenient for us. The experience was quite a change from the night before with the group from the workshop. Besides someone sleeping in the sand, we were the only people on the beach!

The only grunion (or smelt?) we saw for sure was a dead one washed up ashore 2 feet away from a dead grebe. Fortunately, a sprightly night heron was hunting nearby to entertain us while we enjoyed the romantic fuller moon and soothing sounds of the waves. It was facing away from the water and we took an immediate kindred liking to it as humans and bird alike were running back and forth along the berm to avoid the larger waves. There was also a floating bird, possibly a grebe, not too far out in the water that was diving. A lighted squid boat anchored and stayed straight out from the cement structure almost the entire watch period. From about May 5-12, squid boats were out on the bay well into the daylight hours - normally we only see them at night.

Since it was so dark, the dead bird could have been a Clark's grebe. I had no idea what kind of bird it was until I got home to look it up. I didn't know to check if it had white under its eyes (Clark's) or black under its eyes (western) to distinguish between the 2 species. Plus, we're not sure how to tell the difference between a dead grunion and a dead smelt.

This night heron managed to gulp down one silvery, skinny fish, which we later believed to be a grunion. After about an hour and a half, the night heron flew away inland with a companion. We decided if it knew to go, so should we.

May 24 is the next scheduled grunion watch; we'll be there.