September 20th, 2007

monkey pirate

Like some kind of..seabird...

While out on the water the other day, I saw my first cormorant of the season. It turns out that the local cormorants are probably Brandt's Cormorants, since form a distance there's no visible red or orange (as Pelagic and Double-Breasted Cormorants have). These suckers might be my favorite sea-birds. Not just because "cormorant" is a derivative of the latin for "Sea Raven" - but also because they're dramatic little things. They'll swoop up skyward, stall out, and then hit the ocean with a prodigious splash. It's endlessly amusing to watch - and always a little hair-raising when they don't re-emerge for a long time. It turns out they'll dive deeper than any dolphin, and most whales. That's pretty amazing.

It's funny that the behavior of pelicans changes in the Winter - in the summer they're around solo, fishing or just sitting on the water right outside where I go surfing, just out of reach. But in the Fall and through Spring, they move around in troops - a long single-file line of little soldiers following their Captain. When the leader dives, each one of the others will dive in turn, right at the same spot. It's fascinating to watch - I wonder if they're a different species? Or is there behavior affected by the season?

The winter also brings back the funny little shore-birds - short-legged little fellows that will chase back and forth as the wave crashes and recedes, pecking away at the sand. They're joined by some l ong-legged plovers with long beaks that are more stately...but still always chasing back and forth with the waves. It's an amusing little dance to watch, and I can get distracted and just watch birds for a considerable amount of time. I'm grateful for the cool weather - I can tell that it's much more bearable now, because the cat has taken to plastering herself against my legs at night, rather than lolling over the hardwood floor. But not just for comfortable sleeping, but also because this is when the interesting sea life comes to visit.
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