Elegant Harbor, A new addition, or two.

Back on April 15th while birding from the cliffs above Agate Beach, I added a new mammal species to the big year. My first Harbor Porpoise. These animals were not in a group, not CHARGING through the water leaping clear and spinning through the salty air! Heck, they were not even artfully diving through flaming hoops set high in the air, well out to sea. No, these were small mellow, single blackish animals that flowed through the glassy waters, paying no heed to any of the other (few) Harbor Porpoise that were nearby, simply went about their business of feeding. This mellow behavior and their small triangular dorsal fin are two great field marks.

The next addition to report was while a friend David Wimpheimer was bringing an Elder Hostel group to our deck to enjoy the view for a lunch break. We were spotting the odd Osprey, attempting to identify the fish that they were carrying, (they were Jack Smelt, by the way) or watching female Red-breasted Mergansers preen off of the Sea Drift Spit. Suddenly we looked at each other and said, “Did you hear that? That sounded like Elegant Terns”. We kept “catching a whiff” of this sound, subtle and very very faint. I almost thought that I was “losing it”, as this would be quite early for this species to arrive in this area, but time and again this faint sound would reappear then drift away. We couldn’t see anything in the sky save the odd Caspian Tern that happened to be pumping by with its long scimitar wings and belching out its “cat in heat” scream. Then suddenly, there they were! 10 beautiful Elegant Terns in a typically wonderful cohesive formation. They came in the lagoon, gave it the once over and kept right on going. Putting Sea Drift to their port and keeping Bolinas to their starboard, they headed out to sea and again north! That would be my 167th species for the year, sighted on April 19th.


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