BIRDS, BIRDS, BIRDS – IT MUST BE MAY IN LA JOLLA

5 - May 2016 La Jolla W

Birds, birds, birds.  Everywhere I look right now on the coast in La Jolla, there are birds! 

The bluffs are filled with Cormorant nests & some chicks there have arrived! The chicks that are just starting to get big have downy black feathers, which are like black velvet.  When the chicks sit up now to beg for food, they are as tall as their parents.  Some of the Cormorant chicks are starting to get pin feathers & are already flapping their wings as if to say “I’m going to fly, I’m going to fly!”  Some of the late breeding Cormorants are still building their beautiful sea weed nests, but the Cormorant breeding season here is in full swing.  I spot some fledged Cormorants sitting on the bluff now.  They are easy to spot because their shiny black feathers are pristine like a brand new black car, these Cormorants have not experienced much of life yet, but they are launching themselves into the air & below the sea to fish now. 

The bluffs are also filled with Sea gull nests & it is a waiting game for their chicks, too.  I can hardly wait for the arrival of the sea gull chicks with their little polka-dotted feathers.  The California Brown Pelicans go by soaring above the waves of the azure sea.  Snowy white egrets with their neon yellow feet slowly move through the tide pools in a graceful tai-chi dance to catch fish for breakfast.  At low tide the Christmas-green eel grass slumps down over the rocks & it seems like hanging drapes that sway at lapping waves.  When I see a Snowy white egret lift off & fly above the green eel grass, it feels like a dream while I’m awake. 

Black Oystercatchers arrive.  These large shore birds have deep black feathers, which contrast nicely with their stunning red-orange eyes & beaks.  The call of the Oystercatchers is so shrill & ear piercing.  There are several birds on the reef rocks with the Harbor seals.  The Oystercatchers are calling to each other.  A sleeping Harbor seal is not amused to be awakened & have this bird shrieking in his ears.  The Harbor seal lifts his flipper to shoo the bird away. 

There are more than 300 Harbor seals on the beach these days because Casa Beach is closed to people until May 15th.  The pups have become part of the colony now & it’s good to see all the seals resting peacefully.  The Harbor seals are molting now & need the beach to rest as they lose their old fur so new fur can grow in.  Their fur molting can give an interesting look as they don’t lose all their fur at one time, but can lose fur in a here & there weird pattern.  Sometimes a distinct line can be seen where the fur is gone next to where the old fur remains.  Some of the seals get a beautiful mottled look of part brown & part black.  One day a molting black & brown looking seal is resting his head on the edge of a reef rock on the beach as if it is a pillow, which makes me smile.  Whether the seals are molting or not, they are seal beautiful.  The Harbor seals are still mating.  Next year’s pups are being created & I can hardly wait for the next pupping season even though I’m still enjoying the 5-month old pups here now.  During mating, the male Harbor seal slaps his tail hard against the water making a loud “bang” & a large splash.  This advertises he is a male wanting to mate & it is impressive.    

Down at the Cove with the Sea Lion colony, the giant males have returned & it is bark, bark, bark among the younger males who are jockeying for dominance.  Sea lions live as families & I watch as a large male sea lion tries to protect his family of females & juveniles from the tourists getting too close.  It is sad that visitors & even some local residents can’t seem to understand that these sea lions deserve to live with their families without harassment.  Lots of the juvenile sea lions have orange tags, which mean that they were rescued & released back to the sea.  It is good to know that these sea lion pups who were starving from the effects of mothers not being able to get enough food have been given another chance at life & have returned to their colony. 

Walking back along the coast enjoying all the wild life we are so lucky to have here in La Jolla, I spot some clumps of sunny orange California poppies swaying in the coastal breeze.  May in La Jolla is a good place to be. 

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