Monday, September 11, 2006

Wildlife viewing at Pt. Lobos

We're walking down a trail. To our left is a sheltered cove with a white sandy beach. The trail goes along a steep cliff, which rises to our right, covered with small bushes and a few trees at the top. Suddenly a large brown bird swoops out from somewhere along the cliff, flying only a few feet over our head. We stop to watch, as does a couple who are walking towards us on the trail.

"What was that?"

"I don't know, it kind of looked like an eagle? Could it be an eagle?"

"Yeah, I think it's an eagle."

Then Ziad chimes in, very confidently, "It's a juvenile bald eagle."

"No, that can't be a bald eagle, see how its head is all brown? It must be a golden eagle."

But guess what it turned out to be? Apparently juvenile bald eagles are brown all over. You can tell they are not golden eagles by their beak color (this information courtesy of a ranger we encountered later). We watched it flying in circles overhead, then it settled into a tree on the opposite side of the cove. After a bit it dove down toward the water, but in the process went behind a small outcropping of land, and I lost sight of it.

Ziad has been saying all summer that a golden eagle was perched in our orange tree when he was downstairs all by himself. I always thought he had mistaken a hawk for an eagle, but now I am more inclined to believe him.

Anyway, after walking the trail for a bit, we hiked down to another cove, with a smaller beach, and I scanned the water with my binoculars while the kids played in the sand. And, just as it was getting time to leave, I got the most amazing view of a large adult sea otter who appeared seemingly out of nowhere. I wished I had listened to my husband's advice to look for binoculars with a digital camera built in. This sea otter was just floating around, enjoying the afternoon, and I swear I saw him fold his arms behind his head, just like someone leaning back in a comfortable armchair. He seemed interested in us, and looked our way a lot, but kept his distance out toward the mouth of the cove. He was visible to the naked eye, and clearly a sea otter rather than the otter-look-alike kelp that has fooled me so often, but through the binoculars it was even a better view than you could get at the aquarium. These were my birthday binoculars I was using, for the first time that day. I love them! They are perfect!

The last really interesting thing we saw was a butterfly, one that none of us had seen before. We still haven't identified it, but it was a very pretty orange butterfly with lovely light orange stripes running along its wings and small patches of pink near the shoulders.

We were only at Pt. Lobos for an hour, but it was obviously the right hour. Next time I'm not leaving till I see a whale.


Blogger Vivian said...

Last October we saw condors at Big Sur, about 10 miles south of Henry Miller library. There were at least a dozen of them, right off one of the big cliffs. The locals said it's not completely rare to see the condors these days.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Lesley said...

How sad--- I've never been to Pt Lobos. I'm going to have to schedule a family adventure.

3:49 PM  

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