During the weekend I participated in World Migratory Bird Day at Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, California (http://www.parks.ca.gov). Natural Bridges is a park and a beach that consists of a Eucalyptus forest that provides habitat for Monarch butterflies, an intertidal zone, a coastal scrub and grassland with beautiful wildflowers, and a freshwater wetland and salt marsh created by Moore Creek and the ocean. It is a great place for visitors as well as for migrating shorebirds and resident birds.
I stood near the temporary parking area with my spotting scope, binoculars, and field guides, to talk to people regarding migrating birds and resident bird disturbance. It was a perfect time to talk about disturbance since some of the Brandt’s Cormorants were nesting with chicks on one of the rock edges of the parking lot. The Brandt’s Cormorants and a pair of Black Oystercatchers were also found on the rock that is separate from the mainland, which is called a natural bridge due to the huge hole that has been created by erosion through the years. As people passed by, I greeted them and asked them if they would like to see the birds through my spotting scope. For those who were interested, I pointed the scope towards the cormorants and oystercatchers, and talked about the importance of giving them space by not climbing onto the rocks, as oystercatchers are easily disturbed and will leave their nest-making which allows gulls to eat the eggs. I also showed people identifying characteristics of birds such as cormorants, and compared the Brandt’s to the Pelagic Cormorants and Double-crested Cormorants to show them the difference. I also passed out stickers for kids, pointed out the Brown Pelicans that passed by a few times, and talked about bird migration.
Overall, people were amazed when looking at the Brandt’s bright blue coloring on the chin, as well as the oystercatcher’s large red-orange beak. It was windy, but that did not stop visitors from stopping to visit the beach. People came from as far away as England to visit this beautiful place.