Sunday, January 8, 2012

black-crowned night heron ~ 01/08/12 ~ Coast Guard Pier

black-crowned night heron
Nycticorax nycticorax

For quite a while I've wanted to capture a picture of an adult black-crowned night heron during daylight hours. I've seen them regularly near the Coast Guard Pier, adults and juveniles, but I've never had a camera on me when I spot them. It's been almost 3 years ago since we often found a black-crowned night heron while grunion greeting in the middle of the night. We named him "Charlie" and knew if we saw him on the beach, we would have good luck finding grunion. The above picture is an unusual angle, because I was leaning over the railing of recently built restrooms at the boat docks. The actual Coast Guard Pier is once again closed this winter due to additional pier maintenance. They claim it'll be open to the public come February, but I suspect it won't open again until at least June.

elephant seal ~ 01/08/12 ~ Hopkins

It looks like a sandy sausage, eh? I almost didn't post this, because I have much better pictures of elephant seals down at Piedras Blancas near San Simeon. However, I wanted to note the unusually large size of these beached elephant seals near home. In the past week or so, I've heard their distinctive grunts at night, even over the roar of the winter waves. While we've had some elephant seals at Hopkin's West Beach (I like to affectionately call it seal beach) in the years past 9 years, these are the largest males I've ever seen here. I'm fairly sure we have harbor seals all year round on this beach (those rock-looking slugs in the lower-left of the last photo above), but the appearance of a couple elephant seals seems to be seasonal and new.

Here are a couple decent local elephant seal links with original information: