Readers’ wildlife photos

January 14, 2022 • 8:30 am

Today we have a first batch of photos from ecologist Susan Harrison, taken in October last year at Half Moon Bay in California. Her captions are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

Half Moon Bay, Oct. 16, 2021

Pillar Point Harbor at Half Moon Bay (San Mateo County, CA) is a fishing marina catering to ecotourists headed for the Pillar Point State Marine Conservation Area and Montara State Marine Reserve, which lie just offshore.

Out at sea were many pelagic birds, including Black-Footed Albatross (Phoebastria nigripes):

These Orcas (Orcinus orca) belong to the “transient” ecotype that hangs out offshore and eats marine mammals – most notably, calves of migrating Gray Whales (Eschrichtius robustus).  They are genetically distinct from the “resident” and “offshore” orca ecotypes, and some people believe all three should be designated as separate species.  We saw two mothers and three young, all individually known to the biologists studying them

Back ashore, we stumbled on a flock of Snowy Plovers (Charadrius nivosus), which hide by crouching in sand indentations.  How many can you count in the first picture?   (I see 10.)

Also on the beach and mudflats were Black-Bellied Plovers (Pluvialis squatarola), Sanderlings (Calidris alba), Marbled Godwits (Limosa fedoa), and other shorebirds.

Black-bellied plover and sanderlings:


Here’s an old joke about Sanderlings.  Question:  What do their dating profiles say?   Answer:  Likes to take long walks up the beach…. and down the beach…. and up the beach…. and down the beach….

Marbled Godwit:

7 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Lovely pictures. We get sanderling wintering on the coast here in NE England (ours breed in Iceland) and it is endlessly entertaining watching them run up and down from the tide edge as the waves break and recede.

  2. Looks like a wonderful place. Great photos! I could not find 10 Snowy Plovers on the beach. Well hidden!
    I love the Sanderling joke.
    Thank you for sharing!

    1. They’re well concealed but if you click on the image twice you get an enlarged display in which all ten can be found without too much trouble.

  3. It’s interesting how different Orca “clans” prefer different protein. Some eat only mammals, some fish…or perhaps they mix and match, not sure. Either way, thanks for the nice photos and interesting commentary. And humor 🙂

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