Half Moon Bay Coastside 4: How many?

Which of these birds doesn’t belong?
This photo was taken during day 3 of walking the Half Moon Bay Coastside Trail in Pillar Point Harbor (not far from the breakwater in an earlier post). It’s a good example of what you can find if you look closely.


And, here’s the list of birds along the breakwater in the photo I posted with Coastside 2, starting with the easiest to identify (see photo below). The dark bird at the top of the breakwater about 2/3rds of the way across is a Heermann’s Gull (there are more scattered throughout the rocks). At the base of the breakwater, about 1/3rd of the way across, the two large brown birds are Brown Pelicans. All the way across the top and scattered throughout, the black-capped birds with orange bill are Elegant Terns. At the top between the terns on the left and the Heermann’s Gull, if you look closely, there’s a sleeping Western Gull (white head with bill tucked under gray back).

Now it starts getting tricky, in part because the photo isn’t as clear as I’d like (more practice needed). But here goes. Follow along the water line at the base of the breakwater (starting with the pelicans and move left). To the left of an Elegant Tern almost to the end of the photo, is a round bird with a black back and white belly. I think that’s a Black Turnstone (but don’t quote me on that one).

Back to the pelicans, if you look straight up from them, you’ll see an all-white bird (head hidden) and another farther up to the left (preening so you can see its head with a black bill and a little yellow near the eye). Those are Snowy Egrets.


Now let’s tackle the birds on the right side of the image. Start at the Heermann’s Gull on the top and move down past the Elegant Terns. Below those about half way down are two birds with a long bill. The upper one is preening and the lower one is turned so you can see a white strip over its eye — those are Whimbrels. Just to the right of the preening Whimbrel, it looks like there’s a Black-bellied Plover (just the front half showing a short black bill, dark eye, and dark leg, non-breeding plumage). To the right of the plover are several Willets preening and sleeping (grayish-brown head and back, white belly, no distinguishing marks).

I think that’s it — nine species!
If anyone spots anything else, let me know. And, if I misidentified anything (which happens), let me know, too.

Answer: The answer to the riddle in the top photo — look at the fourth bird counting from the left along the water’s edge. It’s a Marbled Godwit hiding among the Willets.


2 Comments on “Half Moon Bay Coastside 4: How many?

  1. My eyes are getting so bad that it’s hard to tell them apart without blowing them up a tad. Still… it looks like you had fun and that’s what counts! 😀


    • I know, the birds are hard to see. But that highlights the point (rather than our ages) and supports what we’re all doing with our blogs and photos — we need to stop and look to really see the world around us. If our birding guide hadn’t pointed out the jetty rocks, I might have seen only the pelicans and elegant terns. When we stopped and looked… there were wonders everywhere.

      Liked by 1 person


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