Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Burrowing Owl by the Sea
A gorgeous day in Humboldt County near McKinleyville,California compelled me to go out to the Mouth of the Mad River. Clear sunny skies with no wind and a very high tide flooding the beaches along the river. As usual I checked to see if the burrowing owls had returned and to my joy and surprise while scanning the driftwood area along the west edge of Widow White creek there standing on a large log was the familar bequilling owl that I have become so familar with.
I had my camera with SigmaDG telephoto lens and was anxious to get my first digital photo of a Burrowing owl.
I have hundreds of owl slides taken while I was in Davis long before the digital era.
This is not typical habitat for Burrowing owls but I documented them previously in the same area earlier in the year between Feb. and April. They have also been observed along the coast previously in the winter by local birders. Could this be one of the same birds that was here before I thought? Unless someone bands them we may never know the answer to that question.
CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE
I eventually walked out to the mouth of the Mad river and a few hundred yards north along the beach and spotted some shorebird activity.
I was rewarded with large numbers of Sanderling's and Marbled Godwits foraging along the surf's edge for invertebrates.
One can become absorbed watching the Sanderling run toward the receding surf to prob the sand then they all turn, rapidly retreating just ahead of the waves rolling in.
It's their familiar "dance" that they have done for generations feeding along the surf's edge Their white feathers giving the illusion of foam.
When startled they rise in unison in a compact flock only to land a few seconds later nearby to continue their feeding activity.