Sunday, February 12, 2012

sparrows ~ 02/12/12 ~ Hopkins

I love hearing the songs of these sparrows every time I walk past this 30 yard stretch of blackberries on both sides of the fence between the Rec Trail and Hopkins Marine Station. It's such a surprising and stark contrast to the sounds of Monterey Bay waves, gull cries, traffic, and jabber of tourists. Sparrow songs immediately transport me to a woodland's edge back in Ohio, even though they are quite common here in CA.

ps - I'm posting this 02/18/12 in honor of the Great Backyard Bird Count being held this weekend, even though I'm not participating in it myself. I'm learning about one bird at a time, and I think it would be an exercise in frustration for me to do a count on my own. The February Checklist for Pacific Grove is daunting.

sea otter ~ 02/12/12 ~ Coast Guard Pier

southern sea otter
Enhydra lutris nereis

I was really excited to see this sea otter so close to the boat loading ramp near the Coast Guard Pier. I've been keeping an eye out for them, because babies should be appearing anytime now. As usual for around here, this one was tagged on its foot. What was especially fun to see was how it wrapped itself in kelp as it took a snooze. It kept one paw over its nose for the 20 or so minutes I watched it. So cute!

Heavy sigh... Most of my sea otter pictures are crappy little blobs of brown floating in the water. Thanks to Ingrid of The Free Quark, I realized my pride for staying on trails and respecting distance with animals may be deluded at times. I probably got too close to this sea otter (maybe within 15 ft.) to take its picture. There are plenty of incredible photographs of sea otters out there done by people who know what they're doing and with cameras equipped with lenses as long as my arm, so why did I feel the need to take a close picture with my pocket point-and-shoot for my blog? I don't have a good answer. Ingrid also has a very good page on Wildlife Photography Ethics & Philosophy. I find it very easy to point my finger at others and question how they got such a great photograph of an animal, but really I need to look at my own behavior. In some respects, I am still very proud of my crappy photos.

As I was searching for different links for the ID above, I discovered the subspecies Enhydra lutris nereis is listed as "threatened" by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, but the species Enhydra lutris, including the two northern populations, is listed as "endangered" by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Can anyone explain this discrepancy to me?

ps 12/22/15 - I honestly can't recall why I thought the otter pups would show in February.  Maybe I was assuming they're similar in timing to the harbor seal births?  It's likely I may have made an incorrect assumption as to when sea otter pups are birthed.  I've been seeing pups this year since before Thanksgiving at this exact spot near the Coast Guard Pier.  The MBA had one birthed a couple days ago in their tide pool.