Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Rocky Shore Birds

OK, I'm a bit late with this post. Way back in the beginning of October, Paul and I walked out onto the jetty in the Samoa Dunes Recreation Area to see what ocean creatures we could find. It was a windy day, with lots of big splashing waves, but that didn't bother the dozens of birds foraging on the barnacle-covered, wave-washed rocks.... I have very little experience with rocky ocean shores, and I was super excited to get to meet two new-to-me species of birds that specialize in this harsh habitat: Black Turnstones and (aptly-named) Surfbirds!

These birds were scampering all over the rocks, moving quite a lot like big bugs. We got some closer views whenever the waves pushed the birds up onto the jetty. Surfbirds are hefty and handsome:

And I was especially impressed with the Black Turnstones' costumes. The white edging on those dark wing feathers is just so cool:

This Black Turnstone got all puffy during a grooming session. So many fancy feathers!

These birds blended in so well with the rocks where they were foraging, and we only got an idea of their numbers when they flocked together after a big wave. These Surfbirds were waiting for their feeding ground to open back up, I think:

Here's a brief video of these birds doing their thing (apologies for the loud wind noises); the Black Turnstones are the really fancy/stripey ones in flight:

The Surfbirds and Black Turnstones definitely stole the show, but there were lots of other creatures around, too. A Double-crested Cormorant flew by (of the various species of cormorants we have here, I'm most familiar with Double-crested Cormorants from my time in the eastern US):

A Common Murre was fishing near the jetty, showing a winter costume that's very different from the sleek black outfits we saw on these birds here in June:

We didn't get to stay out on the ocean as long as we would've liked because the waves started splashing up onto the jetty, heralding danger (hmm, that low tide didn't last very long). I'm very glad we got to meet all those fancy ocean creatures while we were there!