One of the things I’ve really enjoyed during our coastal passages and stays in the various anchorages and marinas aboard Velic is the opportunity to catch sight of birds that I wouldn’t normally see back in the Portland area. Especially sea and shore birds, of course – since at sea and near shore is where we tend to be – but I’ve also seen some inland birds that are not unknown in Portland but that I, personally, haven’t seen before. Not that I would style myself as a real birder of the Big Year sort or even a well-qualified observer. My enjoyment is strictly amateur and casual. Still, there’s something that fascinates me about birds. I can’t help but suspect that, at times, they are looking at me with intelligence behind their eyes.
I have the Peterson’s Field Guide Birds of North America app on my iPhone. This app has the unexpected and very useful feature of providing audio recordings of bird calls in addition to the usual bird information. I admit to using the bird call feature occasionally to lure an interesting bird a little closer to me so I could gain a better view. For example, I used the call to get a better view of a black phoebe in Monterey.
I used the same trick again while we hiked on Catalina Island, drawing a Say’s phoebe to a shrub nearer the trail, where I could see it clearly.
Here in La Paz I’ve been noticing a lot of brown pelicans. They’re everywhere. Clumsy on their feet, but magnificent when flying.
Speaking of magnificent, what I believe to be magnificent frigate birds are a continuous presence, soaring overhead above the marina and bay.
Also here in La Paz, I saw a little blue heron wading along the shore beneath the Malecon one morning. The little blue heron is distinct from the great blue heron so common on the Columbia River. I’ve seen lots of GBHs as well. The little blue heron was being followed a few yards back by a snowy egret that kept an eye on the heron ahead while carefully stepping behind. Maybe the egret was hoping the heron would stir up something tasty.
Late in the day and early in the morning, I often see black-crowned night herons hunting from the docks of Marina de La Paz. I saw one several times while we were in San Diego at Harbor Island West Marina. There’s also a great blue heron hanging out on the docks here in La Paz. The heron is so accustomed to people that it will just sidle away when approached by someone walking down the dock rather than flying off. The black-crowned night heron is a bit more skittish and will usually fly off a few yards.
For the first time ever, I’ve finally seen a green heron. These are sometimes seen in Portland in the summer in places like Sauvie Island and Smith & Bybee Lakes. But I’d never spotted one before. This one was standing on the dock one early evening as I returned from taking a shower, wary and watchful and carefully edging away as I approached, but not before I’d got a good look at it – a small thrill for me.
I’ve been keeping a list of the birds I’ve seen on this trip. The iPhone field guide has a built-in list feature that allows me to record the date, location, weather conditions, number of birds, and level of certainty. I only allow birds on the list that I know for sure I’ve correctly identified. It’s a fun exercise & I’m enjoying myself. And I learn a bit more about birds, too. The iPhone field guide is limited to birds of North America. So while we were in Monterey, I purchased a field guide for the tropical Pacific at a bookstore. More fun ahead!