Sunday, 15 February 2015

California day one - Santa Barbara to Big Sur

It's the school holidays once again, and predictably I'm off gulling (and birding) in California. I arrived with Mick S and Richard S late last night into LA, and after a smooth transition through the airport things were looking good at the start of the trip. That is until we tried getting somewhere to stay - literally every single motel we tried (and we tried a lot) was booked out. Why? February 14th, need I say more. Classy yanks!

And so, after a night in the car that equated to pretty much zero sleep, we started on the beach at Santa Barbara. It's a place I knew well, having visited here in early January 2014. Little had changed, with a nice flock of Black Skimmers and Royal Terns along with southern California's standard gulls - Heermann's, Western, California, Ring-billed with the odd Glaucous-winged (and hybrids) and American Herring. Surf Scoters, Buffleheads, Great Northern Divers and Pied-billed Grebes lined the harbour while stuff like Willet and Marbled Godwits paced up and down the shore. All good stuff for the other two, who had never visited the US before this trip. And for me to try my new camera and lens out...

Heermann's Gulls at Santa Barbara, California 15th February 2015

1st-winter Royal Tern at Santa Barbara, California 15th February 2015
Heading a few miles west, we stopped off at Goleta at my request. A request to see a Tufted Duck - which we dipped. Which serves me right. Nevertheless with a flock of Cedar Waxwings buzzing about, Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup, House Finch, Song and White-crowned Sparrows, Black Phoebe and Anna's Hummingbird note (as well as a few more gulls) it wasn't a totally wasted venture.
4th-winter Glaucous-winged Gull at Arroyo Grande, California 15th February 2015
An hour or so north, we stopped off briefly at Arroyo Grande where just a couple of Glaucous-winged Gulls (and loads of Red-winged Blackbirds) were seen before the fog ended things around Pismo Beach and Morro Bay; though a couple of Sea Otters in the river mouth at Morro Bay were typically obliging. And on the mammal theme, as we headed north to spend the night in Monterey, a stop off at the south end of Big Sur at Piedras Blancas Beach provided rather good views of some of the ugliest creatures in the world, Elephant Seals!

Elephant Seals at Piedras Blancas Beach, California 15th February 2015

1 comment:

  1. Lovely contrasty photos Rich. What was the final choice of camera in the end? Looks like a good choice so far!