California Part One.

The best thing about my flight to San Francisco?  I saw my house from the plane!  By the time we were allowed to turn on electronics my house was long out of sight, but downtown Portland was in view...

On Saturday my friend Sunni and I tagged along with the infamous Seagull Steve on an adventure down the coast.  We stopped at Moss Landing and were treated to a scene that will never be erased from my mind- a pair of sea otters doing the nasty!

Kind of brutal- the male chomps the female's nose during the event and I guess it can get kind of gnarly-looking.  I was more shocked by the sight of an otter rocket:

Post-copulation activities included washing up, stuffing mussels in their mouths, and being adorable.

Our real destination was Monterey Wharf to find an Arctic Loon that had been hanging around.  Before finding the loon Steve pointed out a Northern Fulmar- lifer!  Crappy photo:

On the wharf was a nice variety of trash/fish-gut-eating birds...

Sea lions and Pelagic Cormorants did their best to entertain us while scanning for the loon...

Eventually the loon began making appearances.  It started off way out in the harbor but traveled impressive distances underwater until it was within reach of my camera...

Awesome bird!  On our way back north after lunch we took a turn off the highway on a dirt road where I was pretty sure Steve was going to kill us.  Thankfully this did not happen and instead we visited a big pile of brussels sprouts.  And now the word "brussels" is looking very strange yet google is telling me I have spelled it right.  Anyway, this patch was very birdy with lots of Yellow-rumped and Townsend's Warblers, Song/White-crowned/Golden-crowned/White-throated/Fox Sparrows, a few Western Meadowlarks, Chestnut-backed Chickadees and more. 

Our last stop of the day was at a beach somewhere I cannot recall.  We were looking for gulls but I most excited to see our second White-tailed Kite of the day!

An excellent day overall with three lifers and good times!  Many many thanks to Seagull Steve for taking time out of his busy schedule to take us birding!

Steve and the only birds he really even likes: gulls

Good times!  More to come from California soon...


  1. Sorry I could only show you half a Glaucous Gull. Great to see you again!

    1. 3.5 lifers means I win! Good to see you too!

    2. I just saw the Black-throated Blue Warbler. And the Eastern Phoebe. I think the sun plays a role in this. No larid weirdness though, despite a lot of birds.

    3. Jealous! I was really hoping for that warbler. Dipped on the Cape May as well (saw one possible suspect that vanished into thin air). Larid weirdness should be the name of your other blog. If you had one.

  2. Wow, GREAT trip, and documentation, & congrats on not flipping Steve's psycho-killer switch. *phew* Sound like a super fun tour. Sweet!!

    Otters... I always wondered where they got those little baby otters. BTW, I think the specific part is called an Otter Pop?

    And if it helps the words make more sense, from Wiki ('cause I'd looked it up before 'cause the spelling freaked me out, too):

    "The Brussels sprout has long been popular in Brussels, Belgium, and may have originated there." That finally made my brain go, "A-ha!"

  3. Oh, btw, the color/shot of that cormorant? WOW!!!

  4. Nice trip! The kite was a great find. Looking forward to more photos.

  5. Awesome trip! If you ever make it Texas, we can go find Golden-cheeked Warblers and Black-capped Vireos.

    1. Yes please, and like a million other sick Texas birds.

  6. Great trip, Jen! The Sea otters and Sea Lions would have made my day. And the Kite sighting is very cool! Great photos!

  7. WOW good for you! Ive never even heard of an otter rocket Man on Man...must be the generation gap! Yippers on 3 more lifers! You are rocking this bird thing thats for sure!

  8. Woo solid stuff, I'm glad those mammals worked things out and didn't decide to see otter people...

    good on ya for the Arctic Loon!

  9. Awesome Sea Otter shots! The post-cop shots are hilarious; all they need are a few cigars! Congrats on the lifers!


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