09 September 2010

California Day 2: Elkhorn Slough

On our first full day of vacation Geraldine and I decided to head south to Monterey but I had researched a few birding hotspots so our first stop was actually the Elkhorn Slough area. This is a beautiful area full of birds and marine life. Whether you're a birder or just a casual nature observor this is a good place to stop in route south from San Francisco.

At our first stop I had my first lifer of the day, a Long-billed Curlew. It was foraging quite close to the road and I managed a quick photo with it catching a fish. We also saw waders and other shorebirds at this location such as Willets, Marbled Godwits, and Killdeer. A Harbor Seal was also swimming about in the same area and provided us with quite the show.

We continued down the road to the mouth of the river where we found a large group of Sea Otters. They were so playful and fun to watch. Geraldine I think wanted to take one home. I admit they were cute swimming around, especially using their classic backstroke method.

We had some nice birds in this location including a Bonaparte's Gull and a couple of Caspian Terns mixed in with the Western Gulls.

A group of California Sea Lions basked nearby the Sea Otters. This whole area was just teeming with life. We left to visit the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Reasearch Reserve but I could've stayed in this area all day watching the marine mammals and birds pass by.

At the N.E.R.R. we found a nice nature trail that looped through some multiple habitats. I picked up a multitude of lifers including: Oak Titmouse, Acorn Woodpecker, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, and California Towhee. It was fun birding in this area and I could have spent days just checking out the Elkhorn Slough vicinity.

With our whole afternoon left open we continued south. Geraldine and I had a date with the Monterey Aquarium. Tomorrow I will give you a peek at the jellies, fish, and more!

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