Here is a little VIDEO I made with the Vine app to give you a feeling for the day.
One way to tell where the shallow areas are while kayaking is to look for the gulls near shore. They float within quick reach of the scurrying crabs below and pluck up the brave or careless. Then a quick flight to the sand to de-leg and consume its prize.
Check out THIS page for more information and a great series of photos of the collapse.
North of Seattle you’ll find the fields and trees are lousy with Bald Eagles. They are a real treat in the SF Bay Area because of their relative rarity, but up north… well, they are still a treat, even in their multitude.
For this post in particular – click on any of the images to see a larger, more detailed version.
An Audubon’s Warbler making use of a break in the storm.
Those of us in the Bay Area who pay attention to such things are aware that a River Otter dubbed “Sutro Sam” has taken up residence at the Sutro Baths. River Otters are fantastic creatures. They are cute, but they can take down Pelicans and pull gulls under the surface… I love that about them, their adorable yet ferocious character.
Sam spends his days in and around the pool, sometimes preening on the grass, sometimes hiding in the rocks. He has gotten pretty familiar with the throngs of visitors and often approaches dogs who are led down into the baths. I heard a tale of one guy who brought his dog down there to play with Sam because he thought the otter was lonely.
Here is a glimpse at those sharp little teeth. Sam eats a lot of fish, but crayfish, amphibians, and birds are also on the menu. Problem is, catching birds is tough, and Sam is a young male who hasn’t quite figured out how to go after the larger prey yet.
Here he is venturing out to try his luck. At Rodeo Lagoon in the Marin Headlands, there is a group of 4 otters (down from 7) that have better luck hunting birds. It is thought that one of the 3 that have disappeared was the most experienced hunter. It wasn’t uncommon to find the carcasses of Pelicans along the shores of the lagoon. I have posted about their predatory predilections HERE.
Is is amazing to watch him glide through the water. The motion is seemingly effortless and highly graceful.
Here he is sneaking up on some Coots. He is a clumsy stalker though and they always seem to get away in plenty of time. One of these days he’ll get it right.
Better settle for some fish instead.
The Great Blue Heron seems to like following Sam around and shows little fear. I bet the fleeing fish make for easy pickings but the relationship could eventually turn sour. The otters in the Headlands have been seen stalking and attempting to catch herons too.
For now, all is peaceful. The heron continues untroubled and Sam continues to delight all those who pay a visit. If you do go down, enjoy the show but respect his space. It is a real priviledge to see a wild River Otter in such close proximity.
Heading into the city I spied this female Redshoulder crossing over from the lagoon.
She was heading toward some familiar perches and proceeded to land and survey the bushes below.
Something caught her eye.
A snake! What a catch, for her and for me.
EDIT: the couple has been found! Thank you to everyone who spread the word and made it possible.
Hi everyone, sorry for the wildly-topic post, but sometimes when you are photographing birds, you see wonderful things.
In this case I was photographing a River Otter at Sutro Baths in San Francisco on 12/12/12, and looked over to see a proposal in progress. I was moved by the moment and snapped a couple of pictures because the scene was just so lovely, including the graffiti backdrop.
So I ask you internet, please circulate this post widely via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and any other means you have so we can find this couple and make sure they get access to these images. It was a beautiful moment and I’m guessing they might like to have a record of it.
Thanks in advance! More birds on the way, including a Red-shouldered Hawk with an unusual prize.
Snow Geese on the move near Puget Sound. Click to get a higher res image.
Snow Geese flying in at day’s end.
At the Berkeley Marina, after a long rain, a special bird arrived. Redtail plumage is wonderfully variable and it is always a treat to see a dark Redtail passing through during migration season.
Resident birds tend to be more glue-footed and less flighty, but migrants are understandably more wary.
I was a long way off, perhaps twice the distance most Redtails are comfortable with, and this RT was clearly more interested in a field devoid of humans. Lesson learned. Don’t assume all birds react in the same way. Pay attention to each individual and act accordingly.
I was glad to look back as I was leaving and see the bird had returned to hunting the area. What a glorious hawk.
I saw my first Snowy Owls last weekend on Thomle Road north of Seattle. They were on private land and epically far away so my views were limited to nausea-inducing-heat-shimmer-laced glimpses through my spotting scope (as in the VIDEO above)
The Owl on the right.
A slightly closer lumpier view.
The Owl on the left.