Saturday, April 19, 2008
I've always been amazed at how normally skittish birds are very bold when you approach them in a kayak or canoe. This afternoon, my dad and I paddled around Upper Newport Bay in Newport Beach in a rented two-man kayak. The kayaks can be rented from the Newport Aquatic Center at a reasonable hourly price.
As soon as we shoved off we started seeing birds. Terns flew back and forth, and a lanky Western Grebe swam out of our path. We came across a little flock of Least Sandpipers scampering around at the water's edge. They paid us no heed while we drifted by less than ten feet away.
We encountered lots of terns - mostly Elegant(pictured above) and Forster's Terns, but also a few Caspian Terns. Lots were sitting on partially submerged pipes at the edge of the channel. If we sat motionless and let the kayak drift along the pipe, they'd allow us to approach within about five feet. This Forster's Tern was very cooperative as well.
Shorebirds were not abundant, but there were fair numbers of the more common species. Marbled Godwits and Willets were the most common, but we also found dowitchers, Least and Western Sandpipers, Whimbrels, and Killdeer.
Birding by kayak is a lot of fun. It is awesome just being able to get so close to even the common birds. I'll definitely be doing more!
Yesterday, I found more Lazuli Buntings. I first heard a couple singing on a weedy slope in Irvine Regional Park, and then tracked one down. It was very active, but I managed to capture this photo. Not a good photo, but it IS a photo!