Readers’ wildlife photos

Today we have some wildlife photos from reader Joe Dickinson, whose notes and IDs are indented. Don’t forget to send me your good photos!

Here are a few shots from a quick trip down to Marina, a few miles north of Monterey [California].

As usual, we looked in at Moss landing on the way down.  We found, among others, some northern shovelers (Anas clypeatra).  The preening male nicely shows the characteristic bill shape.  He may be not quite finished molting to the breeding plumage.

Near the shovelers was this great blue heron (Ardea herodeus).  The nice blue water background is, I think, unusual for this wader.

There were thousands of sanderlings (Calidris alba) along at least a two mile stretch of beach that I walked at Marina.  I love the description in my Sibley Guide:  “The familiar ‘clockwork toy’ seen chasing waves on sandy beaches.”  They are almost constantly in motion, so it is hard to get really sharp photos, but I rather like the (evening) lighting and overall atmosphere of these two photos.  I count about 200 sanderlings in the first photo, and another similar flock is hinted at by white specks (at least in the original) beyond the human figure, and it continued like that all down the part I covered. There are at least another 10 miles of contiguous beach that I did not walk, mostly protected in state parks and a national wildlife refuge.

From one of the smallest to the largest of the American sandpipers, here are some long-billed curlews (Numenius americanus).  I had never previously seen more than a pair at once, but the first shot below shows 16 individuals from a flock of more than twenty.

This snowy egret (Egreta thula) seemed to think he also was a sandpiper, dashing down the beach to snag morsels between waves.

Here is the setting at Marina, looking toward Monterey.  Along here the the beach backed by dunes is largely undeveloped because it was a Military Reservation, Ford Ord, until the 1990s.  It continues pretty much the same even further in the other direction.

Finally, we can’t go past Moss Landing without a sea otter (Enhydra lutris).  The wavy lines are reflections of the masts of sailboats.



  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted November 26, 2017 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    These work really well for holding up and showing people.

    Beautiful pic of the sandpiper with his?/her? long bill. (I’m not going full regressive left on this one).

    I’ll use this as my egret-or-heron cheat sheet.

  2. Posted November 26, 2017 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Excellent pictures, with evocative descriptions to boot. Much appreciated! I have never visited that stretch of beach, and it looks like a great place to wander.

  3. Neil Faulkner
    Posted November 26, 2017 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Picky pedant’s corner: it’s Anas clypeata, not clypeatra.

    The coasts of my local patch (Thanet, in east Kent, UK) are accorded international importance for their wintering wader populations, especially of Sanderling, but numbers of all the regular species have plummeted in the past couple of winters and nobody seems to know why.

  4. Merilee
    Posted November 26, 2017 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Great pics all. Love sea otters ( used to visit Moss Landing often in my California days) but I can’t figure out quite what your little guy is doing?? Is he all curled up? I can make out his whiskers, but what’s the big black thing to his left?

    • Posted November 26, 2017 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      I think that is how they sleep. And to the left is his tummy, partially wet.

      • Merilee
        Posted November 26, 2017 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, Mark. Now I see his two paws. His tummy’s all wet, I guess. I love when they crack abalone shells with rocks🐾🐾

  5. Posted November 26, 2017 at 6:49 pm | Permalink


%d bloggers like this: