2022-02-28 Monday At Avila Beach and the Port San Luis Pier

Surf Scoter - Melanitta perspicillata
Surf Scoters were the highlight of my visit, but only the boys ventured close enough for the camera. The hens kept their distance. This visit to San Luis Harbor was only my second since 2019-July. Again, it proved to be a worthwhile stop on my trip along California’s central coast.
Western Gull - Larus occidentalis
Western Gulls of all ages sailed overhead wherever I looked. This visit to San Luis Harbor was only my second since 2019-July. Again, it proved to be a worthwhile stop on my trip along California’s central coast.

Eager to get on the road after months of preparation, and not wanting to face Los Angeles traffic on a weekday, I left my Poway home early Sunday evening and began my journey north. I made my way as far as Woodland Hills in the San Fernando Valley before fatigue caught up with me. I slept in a Denny’s parking lot until about 4am and continued my way up the coast. I had breakfast in Santa Barbara, and found a grocery store to stock my pantry, then I continued driving north.

My first *real* stop for the trip would be at Avila Beach. On my way, I spent a little time at Gaviota Beach State Park. I didn’t stay long at Gaviota, but while there, I realized the magnetic strips I used to attach the removable screens for the driver’s and passenger windows had begun to detach from the door frames. I regretted leaving all my contact glue back in Poway. I located a hardware store up the road in Solvang. I’d never driven into this town located three miles east of US-101. In the past, I’d stopped in Buellton or driven straight through. Years ago, someone told me of this town and its Bavarian character, but I wasn’t prepared for the extent of the influence that loomed over the whole town. Every roof was high, steep, and covered with either tile or metal. Its charm drew plenty of tourist trade.

I had no problem finding my glue at the Ace Hardware store there. It seemed a well run,well-stocked enterprise. I enjoyed my visit there, and was pleased to see the big box chain stores hadn’t pushed this “old school” store into oblivion, as has happened in so many communities. After repairing the magnetic attachments on the screen frames, I returned to the road.

When I reached Avila Beach, I drove out to the public pier (Port San Luis Pier). It was a clear, sunny day. I’d first thought I’d spend a few hours there before driving on to Morro Bay. But I couldn’t tear myself away and I stayed until the light failed. Surf Scoters first caught my eye and lured me to gather my camera gear. Those I saw mostly kept their distance from the pier. Occasionally, they would forage on the water closer to my position. When they did, they provided opportunities to observe them bringing shellfish and other mollusks to the surface and work them over until they could swallow the meaty morsels.

Western Gulls of all ages were a steady presence on the water, on the dock, and in the skies. Cormorants aplenty rafted on the water. I had to review my images for identification. Most of them were Brandt’s Cormorants, though I also saw a few Double-Crested and Pelagic Cormorants. Brown Pelicans shared the skies with the gulls, and Harbor Seals and Sea Otters swam with the cormorants.

It was a lovely day. Morro Bay would have to wait until tomorrow.

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