Thursday, December 19, 2013

heron and egrets ~ 12/19/13 ~ Rec Trail

I never used to look up in the trees while walking along the water, because I was so focused on otters and harbor seals.  One day I startled a night heron near the Coast Guard Pier, and I watched it fly off to perch in a tree.  From then on, I kept an eye on the tree.  Lo and behold, there's a small group of 4 trees, 3 cypress and 1 willow, each with its own night heron for most of the last half of this year.  I wonder if I'll get to see them make a nest or two in the coming months.  Once I started looking up, I also started seeing lots of great egrets and great blue herons (not pictured here) perched all along the Rec Trail. Whoa!  How could I have been so blind to all these large birds above my head?  I don't know if it's only my new found awareness, or if the herons and egrets are actually numerous this year.  For certain, I have seen more snowy egrets than in years past.  They're all so elegant and fashionable.

pelagic cormorant ~ 12/19/13 ~ Monterey Bay Aquarium

I love how the pelagic cormorants don seasonal attire appropriate for Christmas.  They have such a cute red face this time of year.  The sun has to hit them just right for the greens and purples to appear in the feathers, otherwise they look kind of drab.  A couple weeks ago, I noticed several already had their white butt patches (properly called flank patches), but not all of them yet.  I'll have to try to get photos of that, even if they are crappy like the first one above.  I gotta tell you, I so appreciate good nature photography now that I know how difficult it is.  I've really enjoyed watching the pelagic cormorants hang out at the Monterey Bay Aquarium all year.  They build their nests on those ledges under the building.  Their presence at the Aquarium is a relatively new occurrence, maybe within the past 10-12 years?  I believe the MBA is one of only a few places you can easily observe breeding and nesting up close, because they typically nest on inaccessible rocky cliffs.  Back in August, I suggested to Jim Covel that they add a cormorant nest cam to their relatively new Web Cams.  We'll see...

ps 12/23/13 - Today I saw my first pelagic cormorant carrying kelp nesting material back to the MBA ledges.  They really don't seriously nest until about March.  Maybe they're practicing?

pss 12/30/13 - Today I saw 2 cormorants actually sitting on what look like nests.  Crazy early?