Readers’ wildlife photos

November 17, 2023 • 8:15 am

Yes, they’re back again, but my supply is limited, so send in your good wildlife photos (submission rules are on the left sidebar).

Today’s submission comes from ecologist Susan Harrison of the University of Californa at Davis. Susan’s IDs and narrative are indented, and you can click on the photos (twice if you want) to make them bigger.

Drake’s Bay

Just north of San Francisco lies the miraculously wild Point Reyes Peninsula.   In 1962, its 71,000 acres of coastal terrain and 80 miles of shoreline were set aside as the Point Reyes National Seashore, managed by the National Park Service for wildlife and hiking. The peninsula is bounded on the northeast by Tomales Bay – an arrow-straight segment of the San Andreas Fault — and on the west by open ocean.  Its southern edge is Drake’s Bay, lined by a long gleaming arc of cliffs and beaches.

Drake’s Bay looking eastward from the tip of Point Reyes:

Seabirds, shorebirds, and marine mammals use Drake’s Bay’s sheltered waters.  So did English pirate Sir Francis Drake, who in 1579 repaired his ship here, reminisced about the white cliffs of Dover, and inscribed a Plate of Brasse — never since found — claiming “Nova Albion” for Her Majesty.

Here is a brief wildlife-oriented tour of Drake’s Bay from west to east, taken in November 2023.

Pt. Reyes Fish Docks, a spectacular birding hotspot:

Red-Breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) at the fish docks:

Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) at the fish docks:

Black Oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani):

Young male Northern Elephant Seals (Mirounga angustirostris), preparing for breeding season by contesting a strip of beach:

Long-Billed Curlews (Numenius americanus) at Limantour Beach:

Marbled Godwits (Limosa fedoa) at Sculptured Beach, with view to Arch Rock and Double Point:

Tule Elk (Cervus canadensis nannodes) bulls in the headlands above the bay:

Bonus ducks!  Five female Northern Shovelers (Spatula clypeata) dabbling the surface of nearby Abbott’s Lagoon, another birding hotspot:

8 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Thanks, as always, Susan. The California coastline and environs are beautiful. In my mind, I can even smell the salt air from the crashing waves on the Limantour Beach shoreline. I love he mix of sand and rocks at the dock. We have only sand and mudflats here on our Eastern Virginia shorelines…still very nice, but the rocks mixed in provide a nice enhancement.

  2. Birders sometimes have comical nicknames for birds. My favorite is for the Marbled Godwit – ‘Garbled Nitwit’

  3. Oops, I meant to add that the submission rules are at the bottom of the screen on my Kindle, and possibly on other mobile devices, too.

  4. Great pictures!
    and Point Reyes is an intruder from350 miles south (per Wikipedia):

    The entire Point Reyes Peninsula is a piece of the Salinian Block transported northward by the San Andreas Fault. Its core is granite, unlike the terrain east of Tomales Bay. The granite rocks that form the peninsula were once continuous (contiguous? jah) with the Tehachapi Mountains, which is located 350 mi (563 km) south of here. In the 1906 earthquake, Point Reyes moved north 21 ft (6.4 m).

    Point Reyes is bounded to the east by the San Andreas Fault, which runs directly under Tomales Bay, and is structurally dominated by the Point Reyes Syncline. The Point Reyes Peninsula is on the Pacific Plate, while the rest of Marin County land is on the North American Plate. The peninsula is a member of the Salinian Block, a segment of the southernmost Sierra Nevada range transported north from Southern California by movement along the San Andreas fault.

  5. Limantour Beach along the Point Reyes National Seashore has often been a favorite natural refuge for me, even on cold and cloudy days, though the sunny and warm days are marvelous. (It’s rarely hot.)

    The beach is often deserted of people. The natural quiet focuses my attention on more subtle phenomena, including the irregular pulse of small waves cascading at the ocean’s edge, the soft rustle of various shore grasses, the intermittent calls of birds on the wing (it’s a major way station for avian migrations), and — if my ears are close to the ground — the myriad strikes of sand grains against each other as they are tossed by the nearly constant breezes.

    On the near horizon over the ocean, the occasional spouts of gray whale exhalations might interrupt my gaze as I follow the frequent trains of pelicans skimming the water’s surface, deftly navigating the rising and falling waves near the shore.

    There are many fine places on Earth, but I’m privileged to be near this one.

  6. A fine batch of photos to welcome us back to RWP. It’s a beautiful stretch of National Seashore. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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