I had a late afternoon flight home on Thursday. (It turned out to be much later than I’d expected — I arrived home at 6:00 a.m. on Friday.) I had to find something to do in the morning, and I was pretty excited about my five lifers so far. I decided to do more birding. I contemplated driving back down to Santa Rosa Plateau, but that didn’t seem very exciting. I even considered driving two hours up into the mountains for a shot at a White-headed Woodpecker, but that seemed extreme. I decided on the coast, an hour and a half away (thanks to morning traffic) but only an hour back. I picked Crystal Cove State Park for two reasons — Wandering Tattler and California Quail. I didn’t see the first (it was peak high tide) and never got to a part of the park where I could expect to see the second.
I parked across the highway from Crystal Cove and walked through the small community of seaside cabins.
I wandered south along the beach for about a mile. In places, there was barely room to walk between the surf and the bluff.
There were birds about, and some good ones too. Here’s a Black Phoebe that was hawking insects on the side of the bluff.
A Western Gull. It’s hard to find a place on the coast where you can’t see these.
Heermann’s Gull, a Southern California specialty.
Left to right: Black Turnstone, Sanderling, Willet and Black-bellied Plover
A closer look at the Sanderling and Black Turnstone.
Black-bellied Plover in winter plumage.
And a Willet. I’m always amazed at how much tamer birds are on the coast than inland.
I walked a trail to the top of the bluff and briefly considered heading off to the inland part of the park. But distance and time convinced me that the wise course would be to head back. I saw a trail above the bluff and, luckily as it turned out, decided not to go back along the beach. The tide had gone out some, but not enough to expose the tide pools.
Anna’s Hummingbird. Sometimes you just get lucky and click the shutter at the right moment.
A mile, and two unexpected lifers, later I was back at Crystal Cove.
There’s a diner there called Rudy’s Shake Shack. It has an outdoor patio overlooking the ocean.
I got a cheeseburger and a dark chocolate shake which were awesome. But I probably wouldn’t have noticed even if they were awful. This was my view.