Monday, 16 February 2015

California day two - Monterey to Half Moon Bay

It was nice to have slept in a bed last night! So up and refreshed, we hit Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey early on. Light was great for the first half an hour and with a surprising number of Mew Gulls on the beach, I was happy to reconnect with just how diminutive and different they are to our Common Gulls; the difference in first-winter birds is just absurd. There were also a handful of Heermann's Gulls about, a couple of blue ringed Western Gulls and a load of Surf Scoters offshore. Anyway, after a lovely bit of light and a bit of dog walking flushing, the fog rolled in and that was that.

adult Mew Gulls, Monterey

adult Heermann's Gull, Monterey

adult Western Gull, Monterey
Moss Landing was very quiet; the river mouth provided loads of Brown Pelicans, the odd Western Gull and a small number of Savannah Sparrows singing their hearts out. A mid-morning bagel stop provided some roosting Black-crowned Night Herons as a bonus while trying to locate gulls near the Pajaro river mouth was fruitless. And so we headed inland half an hour or so to Los Gatos, where this stray eastern warbler was lingering: -
Black-throated Blue Warbler, Los Gatos
The walk around the creek between the edge of town and Route 17 also provided some decent views of Townsend's Warbler, Oregon Junco and Oak Titmouse. However, the gulls a bit further on at Milpitas failed to show - in my 2013 trip, this site provided ample opportunities to study a good number of Thayer's Gulls. Today, one gull was present and that was a pretty distant, rancid-looking Ring-billed Gull.

Time to head back to the coast, where the rest of the day was spent at Venice Beach, just north of Half Moon Bay. A pretty reliable site for gulls, and it was here that the Thayer's Gull duck was broken - two adults noted in the end. There were also a good number of Glaucous-winged Gulls; a species that increases in numbers from Monterey northwards. Good numbers of Mew Gulls were also present, as well as half a dozen American Herring Gulls and a couple of Heermann's Gulls, as well as a concoction of hybrids. Snowy Plovers, and some showy Surf Scoters just offshore, mixed it up a little species wise too.
adult Thayer's Gull, Half Moon Bay

1st-winter American Herring Gull, Half Moon Bay

adult Glaucous-winged Gull, Half Moon Bay

presumed adult American Herring x Glaucous-winged Gull, Half Moon Bay
Good to be back in the gull action here in California. The further north you get, the better the gulls are. And after the three day weekend due to Presidents' Day, hopefully most of the state will be back in work in the morning.
Snowy Plover, Half Moon Bay

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