Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Coastal Stroll

Snowy Egrets tango
I needed time alone.  And time to think.  I wanted to be among strangers.  Or so I thought. 

I rented a bed at the Monterey Hostel where I would casually stroll to the Fisherman's Wharf and watch the Sea Otters while enjoying some clam chowder. Along the way, I watched everyone, humans and wildlife, interact with the ocean.  I've been wanting the ocean life lately.  I used to live near Monterey about 18 years ago.  Being back in this coastal town brought back a flood of good memories. 

Juvenile Western Gull
How could have so much time passed?! Why haven't I come here more often to visit?

Pelagic Cormorant
Instead of accidentally seeing a sea otter like most tourists do, I intentionally found several in the appropriate habitat munching on some tasty shellfish. Monterey's coastal kelp forest helps maintain a healthy population of these endangered mammals. I lost myself within my own thoughts while watching these magnificent creatures. 

Sea Otter

I grabbed a bowl of clam chowder and sat alone enjoying the anonymity.  I hadn't birded alone like this for a long time. California still feels foreign to me but I am comfortable with that feeling now. It's the reason why I don't live there anymore.  But I wasn't there to live.  I was there to "just be". In my humble opinion, California is a great place to visit, but it's not a great place to live. $$$$$  Everything is $$$$$$$$. The coastal towns are crowded BUT there are gems hiding everywhere in these areas. You just have to know where to look. Luckily for me, I'm a birder and most of the places were off the beaten path away from the tourists. 

Black Oystercatcher
 When dear friends suggested they'd like to visit after my pelagic, I was excited.  I hadn't seen my friends Laura and Chris for years!  In fact, Laura was pregnant with her first child when I last saw her.  Now, she has two full grown girls!  Where does the time pass???!!!!  So many thoughts went through my head.  We were babies when we began teaching all those years ago.  Laura picked me up in her then boyfriend's car and we went to school together as new first year teachers. Our parents were around the age we are now.  I sat drinking my coffee enjoying their company.  It was hard to say good-bye to them by the end of the day.  And I realized that I really didn't want them to leave. I had missed my friends. 

I missed laughing with them and doing the random stuff like we always used to do in Northern California. Here we were once again, former roommates, all standing together and not doing much of anything except enjoying each other's company.  

Oak Titmouse

After they left, I took one last walk with my friend Lynda.  Together, we had dinner and watched raccoons feed along the rocky shore.  When we said good-bye, I was alone again.  But this time, I didn't like it.  What an interesting thing to be surrounded by old memories and comforted by the presence of wonderful friends. 

I went to bird several places within walking distance and had fun. The key to traveling in California is to stay close to where you need to be so that you don't have to drive.  Driving is the worst in CA! So I did everything on foot.

Townsend's Warbler
California can be pricey, especially the Monterey/Half Moon Bay area. And then there's San Francisco!  I have found some cheaper alternatives for a trek back there again, but I want to bring Micheal with me. He needs to see this area.  

Mixing birding and friends together is the best kind of bird adventure possible. While I enjoy those quiet moments of concentration and just being, I also look forward to having fun doing....whatever. 

We went to a place called "Lover's Point" and sure enough, we found two of them making out on this bench! It was actually quite beautiful. 

But no matter where we go, I always keep my eyes open for a possible new bird.......

Rhinoceros Auklet
And so it would happen.  My next life bird, the Pigeon Guillemot, hung out around the shoreline of Lover's Point. 

Pigeon Guillemot
Another was bathing nearby!  Either way, it was a cool encounter and a fun photo shoot!

On our last day, we had a group photo taken in the famous Cannery Row district. 

My trek to Monterey is not over. I had one last day to bird and do some studies. Stay tuned for more........


  1. A great combination of getting away, returning, being alone, and friends too. Plus of course all the birds. Photos are magnificent!

    1. Thanks Gaelyn. Looks like you are having a fun start to your winter. I need to get some things fixed on my car and then maybe we'll be able to visit or meet up at some point this year.

  2. Wonderful photos - particularly love the sea otter :) Sounds like you had a good break - a bit of time alone and fun with friends :)

    1. It was great. This month has been fun and much needed. November should be much more relaxed as the year winds down.

  3. Your holiday beside the sea sounds great. Your Black Oystercatcher looks very similar to our Sooty O. I would hate to not be close to the sea - had to do it once and it was not pleasant. Thanks for you good wishes for my eyes.

  4. Sometimes you just have to get away from it all but then you realized that life isn't so bad when you have friends. Great photos of the animals.

  5. I can't imagine a more perfect getaway.... time alone and time with friends, beautiful scenery, walking, warm weather, the ocean, amazing birds and even a lifer! Sounds perfect.

  6. Sometimes you just have to get away to find yourself again,looks like you did,I`m loving your photos,can`t wait to see more! phyllis


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