Tuesday, June 23, 2009

grunion greeting, 2009 #9

black-crowned night heron
new moon (11:15pm-12:45am), cloudy skies

It still amazes me how bright it is out when the skies are cloudy. Zero, nada, zip grunion observed. Phooey, times 2! The water was very shallow over large areas such that if there were grunion around, we would not have seen them.

Our ol' friend Charlie was at his usual spot when we first arrived at 10:53pm to Del Monte Beach. I'm back to debating whether he's a black-crowned night heron or not. He looks too elongated to be a night heron. Unfortunately, I can't get closer than this without spooking him and his dark areas don't photograph well against a dark background. It's no wonder we first thought he might be a grebe back in May. Hahaha, thankfully we came to the realization there's probably a reason why our Local Birds Quick-Guide shows some birds floating in the water and some birds standing. The only other night herons we've seen have been hunting from pier perches looking down at the water and look exactly like the pics I've seen. Charlie flew away 10 minutes after we arrived and right as other people were parking. We took his departure as a sign we weren't likely to have much luck spotting grunion.

However, it was an interesting evening of meeting people. Diane's h.s. teacher friend from the night before was there almost as long as we were. Then there was a group of a dozen teachers from around the country led by a guy from MBARI who went to grad school with Dr. Martin who also confirmed it was the full moon in July of 2007 when the last big run was observed. Apparently the Monterey Airbus driver was kind enough to drop a few of these teachers off directly at the pier. We also met a Monterey City worker who, after spotting the chap with a metal detector, claimed his third cousin sold a Spanish gold coin he found down the beach for $36K. Entertaining to say the least.

We left at 12:35pm.


midlands birder said...

judging by the photos the bird is a black crowned night heron of the american race.im not an expert on american birds but i do know a bit about them.
midlands birder,uk

Nature ID said...

Thank you!!! I'm going to have to look into the "american race" part.