There is a lot going on here besides just the seabirds, and I thought it would be nice to make a post showing some of the animals we see when we stop to just look around a bit. There’s a lot to see, so I’ll just post a few of the photos I’ve taken and maybe add a few more the next time I offload my camera. Of course to start out this list of things we’ve seen that aren’t seabirds, I have a picture of some of the birds we’re watching. This was on our off-time however, so I think I’ll let it slide. This was taken a while ago around sundown, when I happened to be on a walk with my parents who were visiting. We decided to go past Leo’s cormorant viewing site, and when I looked over I was surprised to see that along with the dozen or so pelagic cormorants with nests there were somewhere around fifty cormorants strewn across the bluff (we counted when I brought the others out to take a look). Since we never see that many during the day, we figured that this must be a convenient place for birds without nests to come and rest during the night. They were there again at sunset a few days later, so it seemed like we had the right idea.
On a similar walk, this time with a little fog, we saw something partway up a tree whose branches reached across the edge of the bluff and hung above the rocks and surf below. As we got closer I realized that the bird was actually an osprey perched on one of the longer boughs. It looked as though it was considering the ocean hazed in fog, perhaps thinking how best to go about its next hunt. Or perhaps it was simply nesting.
We were able to get pretty close as far as seeing osprey go, though that wasn’t quite close enough for my camera. We end up seeing osprey from a much closer view at Jeffrey’s GPI site, where we sit on a point of the bluff which the osprey glide over in passing. One had to have come within twenty feet, giving a perfect profile of its wings strained against the sky.
Dark eyed junco
For all the seabirds that we see, there are certainly plenty which prefer to stick to land. As most of our work keeps us in open spaces away from trees, most of the birds we see either are varied in habitat preference or enjoy the scrub and grass in which we sit.
Our most common visitor as we sit at Nicole’s site on the south side of the island has to be the sparrows, namely the song and white-crowned, which flit between the soft branches of the yellow lupine bushes. Their songs are always enjoyable.
The scrub jays, who I know quite well from my time working with Professor Levin at the Bernard Field Station, can be heard around the houses and the bigger bushes, swooping, calling, and hopping along the ground, their plumage a mix of muted blues and brown. They always have something to say when they’re around.
A few birds we only see glimpse of, like the dark eyed junco, which I have only seen the one time. Others include the gold finch, which bobs when it flies, the spotted plover up the river, the herons which Jeffrey had in one of his posts, and many others.
We also have seen a lot of one of my favorite birds, the ravens! They’re everywhere along the coast, and not a day has gone by that we haven’t seen at least a few pairs flying about. At Jeffrey’s GPI site they fly overhead in groups of six, sometimes with grass or food, making caws and croaks and strange rolling rattles. At my cormorant viewing site they fly overhead and through the cove, sometimes with a morsel, or even swooping overhead in long arcs in the company of turkey vultures.
In the picture on the top the three ravens were having some sort of conversation with coos and calls so soft and sonorous that I can’t find the words to describe them. I would love to know what they were talking about, as it did seem clear they were speaking towards each other.
The picture on the bottom has a small blackbird (brewers?) which was mobbing a raven. They both started out perched on a house, and I’m guessing the raven was a little to close to the nest for comfort. The little bird got a few good swipes in, and I could see it make impact a few times. The raven got out pretty quick.
Here we have a family of North American gray foxes. We’ve seen a few of these guys around wandering right past, heading somewhere into the grass. Usually we only see a lone adult, but we managed to spot the ones in this photo while driving around. They were heading behind a fence into someones yard, though one of them got sidetracked and took a little detour around the house.
This is another picture of the garter snake that Nicole talked about in her last post, minus the flowers of course. I got it at the perfect time to show of its tongue, and I have to say I wasn’t expecting the contrast of the red and blue coloration. We’ve seen a few other of these guys around, but usually they’re pretty quick to slide into the brush.
And here’s a few from our tidepooling forays to finish things off. On the bottom is a velella, color leaking onto the rocks as it dries in the sun. And on the top is some kind of isopod. Probably (I don’t know marine invertebrates that well, anyone have ideas?).
Anyways, hope you liked the post, and I hope to have another one soon!