Saturday, February 16, 2008
This morning I went to Crystal Cove State Park, along with Bob Scrimger and my dad. It was the first time I had ever been there! There's an absolutely beautiful beach there that is part rocky with tidal pools and part sandy. The beach was littered with dozens of tame shorebirds. Most of them were very cooperative for photography. Black Turnstones were the most numerous. I was surprised to see them trundling around on the beach, because they normally stick to rocks. Unfortunately, I only managed one decent photo of a Black Turnstone.
Ruddy Turnstones were also very common. The turnstones were constantly churring and squeaking to each other, and it was fun to watch them fight over scraps of seaweed. The Ruddy Turnstones were a bit more cooperative than the Black Turnstones - here's a shot of one taking a break from foraging.
My dad noticed a banded Ruddy Turnstone - not only was it banded, but it was also color banded! The left leg had a yellow color band over a red color band, and the right leg had a regular aluminum band over a while color band. Banders band birds with unique color combinations like this so they don't have to be recaptured to determine where it was banded. It may look like this bird is loaded down with bands, but these bands are extremely light-weight and are no more noticeable to a bird than a human wearing a bracelet. I'll do some research and report this sighting so I can find out where it was banded!
There were quite a few Black-bellied Plovers wandering the beach as well. They were more skittish than the other shorebirds, but this one posed well for one shot.
Several Surfbirds flew in and put on a great show by preening on some rocks at close range. Here's a profile shot of a Surfbird:
By wading through some tidal pools and clambering over slippery rocks, I was able to get closer the Surfbird in better light. They are handsome birds! They are more dumpy and heavy-looking than turnstones.
Of course, Willets were very common along the whole beach. They are one of the most widespread shorebirds along the Orange County coastline and in the tidal marshes. This one paid no attention to be as I stalked it over the slick rocks.
Next time I go to Crystal Cove (which will hopefully be soon!) I will wear a swimsuit - kneeling in the sand and wading through water to get close-up shots of shorebirds gets messy!
I can highly recommend Crystal Cove State Park to anyone interested in shorebirds or photography. Even if you don't have a camera, it's amazing to watch shorebirds at such close range! The beach is very beautiful as well.