Monday, October 24, 2016

The Monterey Bay Aquarium

I watched the people mesmerized by the dark blues and greens of the ocean at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

I was there to study shorebirds in their aviary display. It was a rare opportunity to see these birds up close.  And it was here that I was able to study their field marks to help me ID better out in the field. 

Sea Otters in the Kelp Forest near the aquarium
The Monterey Bay Aquarium can be pricey at around 50 dollars.  But it's my birthday month, so I splurged:)

Snowy Plover
I got there early to avoid the crowds and I was mostly successful.  I planned several "must see" spots first which weren't the main attractions that most tourists visit. I actually had a bowl of clam chowder ALONE out on the deck below!  I watched wild shorebirds and sea otters from this very cool spot below.

But my study?  As you all know, I like to visit the living museum collections of our zoos and aquariums around the world.  I do an ebird hotspot list for the wild birds found in the area while also studying their aviary collections.  Many of these birds were once wild but thanks in part to places like the aquarium, these injured birds are given a second chance at life where they'll educate thousands of people (like myself).

Semipalmated Sandpiper
I oo'd and aw'd at the displays like everyone else.  But it was the sandpipers, phalaropes and other peeps that held my interest.

There is something very relaxing about being in a dark area with gentle music playing in the background.

The jellyfish displays were mesmerizing!

Red Phalarope
However, it was time to study my phalaropes.  They are often difficult to ID in the wild because of distance.  And because they are usually in their winter molt when they pass through Arizona.  I was able to see a size difference between the two birds.  But it was the bill that really grabbed my attention.  Note how strong the Red Phalarope's bill(above) is when compared to the Red-necked Phalarope's bill(below).  There is also orange at the base of the REPH's bill which I have never clearly seen from a scope.  What a great way to compare these two sometimes tricky birds!

Red-necked Phalarope
There were octopus..... 

......and more cool aquariums.......

.....and pretty Buffleheads......

drake Bufflehead
.....more awesome jellyfish......

....and lots of wild birds feeding around the waters outside of the aquarium:)

juvenile Pelagic Cormorant
I had a great morning out, but it was time to head back to Arizona where Kathie Brown was waiting for me. Here's a video from my adventure in Monterey.  I'm still smiling from all the fun.  But it was time to return back to the desert. There was work to be done.


  1. Thank you, also I enjoyed the excursion and the meeting so many natural beauty.

    1. Thank you for stopping by and reading!

  2. Awesome visit! The Newport Bay aquarium is also cool with birds and water creatures. Great birthday present. As is seeing Kathie.

    1. Yes. It was a fun visit but everything flew by much too quickly. The Newport Bay aquarium.......sounds like fun. I'll check it out. Thanks for the tip.

  3. Gorgeous photos Chris - hope you have a very happy birthday :)

    1. Thank you so much. I can't believe another year has passed!


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