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Baltimore by the Sea

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Birding Abbott's Bay, Point Reyes National Seashore

Cranky looking California Quail
This morning, bright and early, the Happy Birthday Fairy flew in on gossamer wings, to greet Claire with good wishes! Unfortunately Claire, who hadn't yet had her coffee, smacked the shine off the good Fairy's face. Tsk, tsk. In the wee dawn hours, Claire and her birding buddy headed off to Point Reyes, with hopes of seeing a Buff-breasted and Stilt Sandpipers that were seen there the previous day or two.

It was lovely, cool and foggy as Claire grudgingly headed onto the long trail that headed to Abbott's Lagoon where the target birds had been seen. Along the trail a California Quail sat all puffed up and grouchy as it had its picture taken.

You know Claire doesn't hike unless there is promise of a rare bird, held up like a carrot at the end of the trail. Honestly, she also loves wildflowers, but the wildflower hasn't sprouted that will get her out on a hike.

Monkey Flowers dot the pathway to the Lagoon

Approaching Abbott's Lagoon

Bridge Crossing to Abbott's Lagoon

The first view of the Lagoon was promising, loads of basking Gulls, and patches of little shorebirds working the shoreline.

Sanderlings and Least Sandpiper hunting their breakfast

Alas! No Buff-breasted or Stilt Sandpipers, but there were adorable little Snowy Plovers on the beach. Across the lagoon, aided by my spotting scope, I could even see a couple of Snowy Plover chicks, racing around, keeping their concerned parents on guard. They needed to be on guard! There was a HUMONGOUS Peregrine Falcon patrolling the beach. It sat for a while on a dune keeping a close eye on the nervous shorebirds.

Endangered Snowy Plovers raced along the beach

Red-necked Phalarope swimming loopty loops

By the time I got to the far edge of Abbott's lagoon, I was starting to feel a bit foot weary. Still, I'd made it that far, might as well climb the last dune and see the ocean, so I could say I'd been there, done that!

Proof I hiked to the Ocean!

Below is one of the lovely Abbott's Lagoon sand dunes, covered with succulent wildflowers, looking soft as a pillow, but offering all the rigours - for tubby Claire - of an elliptical treadmill. *WHEEW!*

Lovely sand dune to you, a laborious treadmill for me

I took my time on the walk back to the parking lot, and along the way saw a beautiful blue striped garter snake that was too quick for me to get in a snapshot. However later this lovely little garter snake was sunning on the pathway. I think it was a red-sided Garter, but it's color was a bit faded - I think it will be shedding that old skin before too long.

Red-sided Garter Snake

There were lots of nice birds along the path, American Goldfinches, White Crowned Sparrows, Common Yellowthroats and many Barn Swallows darted through the air, as if engaged in dogfights with the Scarlet Dragonflies.

Scarlet Dragonfly

As I trudged back to the car, I pondered the distance I had hiked: 5 miles? Maybe ten? Uh... not exactly. At the trailhead a sign indicated the distance to the beach and back was about 1.25 each way, so I walked approximately 2.5 miles. Glad I didn't see that sign BEFORE I'd headed out!

For our next stop, we drove to a couple of the dairy farms. We spotted a very large coyote along the way. Didn't find any interesting warblers at the dairy farms but our next stop was Drake's Bay. I requested a Great Horned Owl, and darn if Don didn't pull one out of the air for me! It sat at the top of a pine tree, in plain view and I hadn't noticed it on my own because it looked rather like a giant pine cone.

Great Horned Owl sunning at Drake's Bay

Don spotted a mess of small birds in the same area as the Owl; Western Bluebirds, Townsend's Warblers, and a surprise, an immature American Redstart! A very lost little birdie I can tell you!

Drake's Bay

I was a bit disappointed the cafe by the beach was unexpectly closed, because I love their clam chowder. Oh well! We settled in my Honda for sandwiches and home baked ginger snapes which is great because I was post-hike ravenous. All in all, it wasn't a bad way to spend one's birthday.

Good little gulls bask by the Pacific!


  1. I'm catching up on blogs. As always yours is one of my favorites.