Our morning was cloudy and windy all along the coast. We got some welcome sunny warmth in the afternoon.
The birds didn’t seem to mind the wind as much as we did. We saw 48 species, with about 15 new for the trip, during the day’s 6-mile trek to Princeton-by-the-Sea and Pillar Point Harbor. Our focus was on shorebirds and seabirds, and we were delighted with surprises at the start and end of our walk. Here are some highlights.
Our first surprise was a snowy plover near a nest with an egg, a sighting that hasn’t occurred on these beaches for years. This is good news for this threatened species.
Our next big surprise was a flock of both Caspian terns and elegant terns. The elegants weren’t expected. They usually arrive in early summer. The elegant terns are smaller than the Caspians and the black crest looks more ruffled.
One of my best shot of the day was of this eared grebe in full breeding plumage.
Our biggest surprise of the day was a sighting of a Northern gannet on the breakwater. Yes, a gannet! This is a beautiful North Atlantic bird that’s been hanging around Half Moon Bay for awhile. How it got here, no one knows. A rare treat.