2022-03-02 Wednesday At Morro Bay

Chestnut-Backed Chickadee - Poecile rufescens
This was my first meeting with this species. It took place at the southern reaches of Morro Bay. One of my favorite regions to explore is California’s central coast. During past visits to this lovely town, I’ve wandered the grounds of the Natural History Museum and found it both peaceful and birdy.
Black Oystercatcher - Haematopus bachmani
Always a favorite stop for me in Morro Bay, is the inlet at the north end of the bay, where this day graced me with a close encounter with Black Oystercatchers.

From the beginning to the end, yesterday went swimmingly. I began my fun by driving from San Luis Obispo on Los Osos Valley Road, a route I’d not traveled before. Rather than the Highway 1’s approach to Morro Bay at the north of town, this road brought me to the south end of Morro Bay through the State Park.

In my research before starting my way north, I found an eBird report of sightings of Chestnut-Backed Chickadees in the area. Being a bird I looked forward to meeting, I’ve traveled up the coast in the past, but I never took the time to hunt for them. I was hoping to remedy this oversight on this expedition. On my first stop, I sighted my target flitting about in the highest canopy of the 100 foot tall eucalyptus growing near the crest of the butte overlooking the south end of Morro Bay. These birds would not be good targets, but both California Scrub and Steller’s Jays flew in to investigate me, and I took the opportunity to capture a few frames.

During past visits to this town, I’ve visited the Natural History Museum and found the grounds both peaceful and birdy. Within a few minutes of my arrival, the chickadees showed up, and I collected my first images of this species. I also met with warblers, juncos, sparrows, towhees, and hummingbirds during my visit.

Always a favorite stop for me in Morro Bay, is the inlet at the north end of the harbor. Other than the wonderful bird meetings possible, it is the most reliable place I’ve ever found for close encounters with Sea Otters. To my surprise, the otter congregation I expected was not there on my morning arrival, but as the day drew to a close, the otters returned from their seagoing foraging to shelter in the bay.

One of my earliest bird encounters at the otter spot was with a pair of Black Oystercatchers working the rip-rap rocks at the bay’s edges. I find these charismatic shorebirds very attractive. If their pink legs, or their bright red-orange bills with matching eye-rings weren’t enough to attract my attention, those golden eyes will surely bring on a smile.

When the day was done, I’d enjoyed nice meetings with Anna’s Hummingbirds, Black Oystercatchers, Bufflehead, California Scrub-Jays, California Towhee, Chestnut-Backed Chickadees, Common Loons, Greater Scaup (pretty sure they weren’t Lesser), Harbor Seals, Long-Billed Curlews, Pelagic Cormorants, Peregrine Falcons, Sea Otters, Steller’s Jays, Townsend’s Warblers, Turkey Vultures, Western Gulls, White-Crowned Sparrows, Yellow-Rumped Warblers, and some exceptionally nice fellow nature-loving travelers.

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