Half Moon Bay Coastside 3

Yesterday was another long day (7+ miles) and so I’m a bit behind on sorting through my photos. We had sunny skies and very little wind in Pillar Harbor (Princeton-by-the-Sea), and so the shorebird sightings were varied. These first three were on the same rock paying no mind to one another.


Black Oystercatchers




Spotted Sandpiper

Across from the bayside rock was a breakwater (with a view of Maverick’s when it’s breaking – but not today). The breakwater was dotted with Black Turnstones (named for their habit of overturning stones for food). I counted about a dozen (but I could have double counted). This one was dodging a small wave.


Black Turnstone

Another good day… and more on the way.

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Half Moon Bay Coastside 2

How many different bird species can you find in this photo? 

This is the breakwater at the Pillar Point Harbor. I’ve counted 8 so far, but I think I’ll find more when I look at it on a larger screen back home. I’ll let you ponder this and post the species list this weekend. We had a great birding day, seeing more than 50 bird species on an 8-mile walk, and a few humpback whales, too.

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Half Moon Bay Coastside 1

This week I’m again walking the Coastside Trail around Half Moon Bay, then over Pillar Point to Moss Beach – looking for birds, mostly autumn migtants. Tuesday was the longest walking day (more than 7 miles). The weather was perfectly cool and cloudy with no wind. 

As odd as it seems, we got really excited about blackbirds! That’s because this first photo is of a Tricolored Blackbird, and the second shows a flock with a few Red-winged Blackbirds mixed in. Since it’s not breeding season, the epaulettes are mostly hidden. But if you look at the tricolored bird’s shoulder, you’ll see a pale white stripe. This is the edge of the red patch and distinguises it (among other characteristics) from the red-winged species. What was exciting was that we had just begun our walk and found so many Tri-colored Blackbirds together, and the first time I’ve ever seen one.  Good start. More later.”

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Wandering tattler

This name evokes an image of an inebriated medieval peddler hawking gossip along with his wares. From the first time I heard it, the name fascinated me, and hence the bird with this name does, to0.

wanderingtattler1The wandering tattler (Tringa incana) is a medium-sized sandpiper with a white eyebrow above a dark eye, yellow legs, beautiful gray flight feathers, and a white belly. In addition to the color pattern, this bird is easy to spot because it doesn’t just walk along the shore looking for insects and tidbits to eat — it bobs and teeters as it walks. It looks a bit inebriated.

Both times I’ve seen a wandering tattler it’s been in September, single birds migrating south from breeding in the mountains of northwestern Alaska and Canada. The good news is that its range is so widespread that its conservation status (IUCN) is Least Concern.

According to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds, the “wandering” part of the name comes from its widespread occurrence over the Pacific ocean. The “tattler” part refers to its alarm call which alerts other birds to danger. In French, it’s called a “chevalier errant” and in Spanish, “playero vagabundo.”


All great names, and so apropos, for a shorebird that teeters along coastlines and into mountains from Alaska to Chile to the islands of the Pacific.wanderingtattler2

And, speaking of wandering tattlers, I’ll be walking the Coastside Trail along Half Moon Bay again with Slow Adventure this week and hope to post my best photos along the way.


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