Sunday, May 24, 2009

grunion greeting, 2009 #3

black-crowned night heron, gull, grunion
new moon cycle (10:35pm - 12:35am), overcast skies

Our friend the night heron was already out hunting when we arrived at Del Monte Beach. I still couldn't get close enough to take a good picture of him. He seemed to prefer hunting about 20 yards away from the pier.

We also saw an injured gull. Earlier that day at Del Monte Beach, there had been the 20th Anniversary Memorial Day Hoe Wa'a outrigger canoe races. I wonder if it somehow got injured during the festivities. There was also a couple who parked themselves with blankets and pillows not too far from the gull. They were grossly engaged in their own activities to not notice us running around taking pictures of birds and fish. Apparently, more than grunion like to "spawn" on the beach.

We were so excited! We saw our first live grunion, 12 total, in pairs with the females already in the sand by the time the waves receded. I was surprised at how quickly the grunion skedaddled back to the water. In order to take the picture above, I blocked the female's way with my boots... maybe not entirely kosher.

The night heron ate 4 of the grunion we counted. In fact, that's how we knew where to look. As soon as he started eating we would run over to check. He would immediately fly to a nearby tree and would return when we walked away from his favorite hunting spot. We left the beach about 15 minutes after the night heron flew away for good.