Tuesday, May 31, 2011

sunset ~ 05/31/11 ~ San Carlos Beach

sunset from San Carlos Beach
May 31, 2011

We were out for an evening walk, enjoying the clearer skies before the summer coastal fog sets in for the summer. The pastel skies and gentle ocean sound always help me feel tranquil. I prefer heading towards Cannery Row and the Coast Guard Pier in the early morning or in the evening when most of the tourists and scuba divers are elsewhere.

Brandt's cormorant ~ 05/31/11 ~ Cannery Row

I've always assumed these are Brandt's cormorants that congregate every year on this remnant of a sardine factory loading dock. However, as I look it up, these birds may be mixed in with double-crested cormorants (P. auritus), which I had previously thought only nested in trees. It's a crummy picture above, because the lighting was low and a fence kept me from getting closer. The third type of cormorant that is found in the Monterey Bay is the pelagic cormorant (P. pelagicus), and I've learned to recognize it by its white butt and solitary nesting behavior. I'll have to take binoculars the next time I walk through Cannery Row.

Oh, that green stuff in the foreground is non-native sweet fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) in the Apiaceae family. I always want to call it anise, which is an incorrect term that several lepidopterist-type like to call it due to the anise swallowtail butterfly. Towards late summer it's quite pretty here with feathery greenery and prolific yellow flowers covering the dilapidation of local history.

ps 06/22/11 - So far this year, I don't have any pictures of cormorants or sea lions from the Coast Guard Pier, because they closed it off from public access since around mid-February for repairs. I was told by Coast Guard personnel that it would only be closed for a week. Ha! While driving home the other day, I noticed the Coast Guard Pier is finally open again with a black chain link fence along the breakwall. I want to get out there to see what's up. I do know we haven't had the influx of sea lions like we did last year.

harbor seal ~ 05/31/11 ~ Hopkins

Phoca vitulina

Here's my annual harbor seal pup post, a little later than usual. Most of the harbor seals around here are born mid-April. It's fun living just a block away from the bay, because sound carries very clearly up from the water. I remember hearing pups crying at night, which sound almost human-like, a week before the first reports of births at Hopkins' non-publicly viewable beaches. The pups have had almost 2 months to turn into fat beach sausages. Besides obvious size variations, I don't know how to tell the difference between the older pups, post-nursing moms, and males.

Interesting to note, Stanford Hopkins' seanet site names harbor seals down to subspecies, P. vitulina richardii, and calls them Eastern Pacific harbor seals. Other references spell the subspecies P. vitulina richardsi with an 's', which I chalk off to Gray having really bad handwriting back in 1864.

Oh! There's a funny white goose in the middle of the last picture that we've seen around for a couple of months. For much better pictures than mine, check out local photographer Peter Monteforte's marine mammal shots.