Memories of Morro Bay

Sea Otter - Enhydra lutrisPelagic Cormorant - Phalacrocorax pelagicusI first visited Morro Bay in December 2003, when my passion for bird photography was new. The act of chasing birds can produce unanticipated meetings with creatures other than birds, enriching the experience further, and provide an unexpected level of excitement. My first visit here was just such an experience.

Sea Otters are an interesting, charismatic species. My first and best meetings with these creatures have been at the harbor entrance here, near the towering monolith of Morro Rock. I’d seen these enchanting fur-balls before at other coastal areas, but from a distance. The intimacy this location provides for viewing the otters is startling. They are consistently found at this location. Most of my non-birding encounters with non-feathered creatures have been coincidental fallout from my bird chases. But with Morro Bay, the otters draw me in. Only after I’ve satisfied my appetite for sharing their company can I turn my attention back to the birds I so love.

Since my 2003 discovery meeting, I’ve visited here several more times. In June 2015, I met rowdy juvenile otters playing rough-house games. That was fun! Late July 2017 was my best encounter with baby otters perched on their mother’s bellies as she floated on her back keeping her precious cargo warm, safe and dry.

A walk around Morro Rock from the harbor shore is often worthwhile. Passerines, shorebirds, gulls, waterfowl, cormorants, and waders abound here. And don’t forget to turn your gaze skyward. Cliff dwelling birds, including resident Peregrine Falcons may fill the air.

There are other locations around the town that may provide worthwhile feathered encounters. At the southern part of the bay, the wooded grounds around the Natural History Museum are lovely. And the nearby Morro Bay Estuary may provide waders or waterfowl meetings. Hiking trails through the “Elfin Forest” at the southern edge of the estuary could be rewarding to the adventurous explorer. This seemingly forward thinking community even has a Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary nearby, that could be good for bird meetings too.

My most recent visit was in late July 2019, when wrens and sparrows were my primary targets. The gallery below has a few of my favorite images from my time here.

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