Went to the San Elijo Lagoon on the Cardiff side the other day. What fantastic weather we have been having. It was exciting to be out early and getting excellent light and interesting bird subjects on this beautiful spring day. With this change in seasons, we are seeing lots of birds in breeding plumage and quite a bit of the aggressive behavior that comes along with this time of the year.
Arriving early at the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center I noticed that the tide was perfect with quite of bit of shoreline exposed on the banks of the tide channels. Several birders and photographers were already there scanning the area for interesting subjects. My first bird subject of the morning took all of us by surprise as a pair of American Avocets flew in from the east and landed directly in front of us on the exposed shoreline of the tide channel. I was lucky enough to catch this one coming in for a landing.
A beautiful glide in by the first American Avocet.
The second one had already landed and was looking quite alert at something.
The first one starts to forage for food near the shore.
But now my attention goes to the second Avocet. It has become alerted to something and goes into an aggressive posturing, moving towards its intended target. But I keep the lens on the Avocet and follow his deliberate focused movement.
The Avocet is moving swiftly towards his target without coming out of the aggressive posturing.
Now his pace quickens and starts to charge... his head is tucked back for a strike with his beak held like a spear by a jousting horseman.
I follow the Avocet on his charge and his intended target is a Marbled Godwit!
The aggressive charge startles the Godwit and he hop/flies out of reach.
But the Avocet feels he has not gone far enough and charges again.
The Godwit flies off as the Avocet calls out a warning to leave his part of the beach.
The Avocet rushes the Godwit with more warning calls. The Godwit stays just far enough to avoid the reach of the Avocet's long bill.
Stopping and looking to see if the Godwit has relinquished his beach.
Nope, the Godwit has landed too close for his liking and the Avocet assumes his aggressive posturing and rushes the offending bird again.
Scolding and charging the Godwit on the wing, the Avocet makes his displeasure of the Godwit's presence quite clear.
The Godwit wants to avoid the confrontation that the Avocet is instigating with his aggressive action.
Because the Godwit is in a panic, he hurries out of the Avocet's way by running towards where we are all standing and watching.
The Avocet stops as the distance becomes greater between the two birds.
The Avocet again calls out a warning... probably telling the Godwit he has to keep going, don't stop moving.
Feeling that the Godwit is still not in compliance with the Avocet's demands, the Avocet charges again.
The Godwit gets the hint and puts some more distance between them.
What a great opportunity to watch the interaction between these two species. The Avocet playing beach master and the Godwit staying just out of striking distance but refusing to leave an area that offers lots of tasty treats.
Finally the Godwit puts enough distance between himself and the aggressive Avocet and things quiet down again at the tide channel.
Looks like lots of prey for this handsome bird.
His mate joins him and forages near by.
Last shot of this beautiful shorebird and it's time for me to go home.
As I head towards the parking lot, I pass the first outlook area by the visitor center and spot a Double-crested Cormorant in full breeding plumage. This is the first time I have seen one close-up in full breeding plumage with the white plumed crests for which they're named. Wow, they are quite colorful to see!
Cormorants are usually dull looking and not a fun bird subject for photographers but when they have that white eyebrow looking plumage and bright yellow/orange lores and chin with the emerald green eyes, they are quite a nice subject to shoot. Great way to end a super beautiful morning walk.