Black Oystercatcher Search; Yes, It’s a Bird!

It’s been more than a month since seeing a new bird for my life list. With my desire for cooler daytime air temperature, I headed to California’s San Diego area. Dreams of cool ocean breezes, riding my bicycle or walking the beaches to find a black oystercatcher were on my mind for this quick trip to the west coast.

Along the west coast are numerous beaches. Bird watchers reported seeing one or two black oystercatchers along the coast. The chances of me seeing the bird? Honestly slim when only one or two birds are seen!

Learn About the Bird …

Before the trip, I wanted to learn all I could about the bird. Where do they hang out? What do they eat? I sketched the bird so its body shape and colors were in my head. I cannot miss their long red bill and how they carry themself. Black oystercatchers eat mussels so I look for them too. These birds do not eat oysters, but in 1731 an English naturalist observed the bird eating oysters so named it so.

My sketch of a black oystercatcher

Where is the bird?

For a few days, I walked the beaches from north of Dana Point Harbor to La Jolla Cove area of San Diego. At some sites, I went a second time at a different time of day. Just by chance I was looking at a Google map where another person reported, via the eBird website, seeing 2 black oystercatchers a few days prior. It was a beach site, just a stone’s throw, south of my more southern area of observations. So I went there!

Everyone is at the beaches this summer. I’m the only one walking along with camera and binoculars so I am often asked questions: what am I photographing, what is that bird over there, what do I hope to see, and I hear their stories. One man and I were talking about the gulls acting like they own the beach. He told me of a young gull walking right into his hotel  room here by the beach. We laughed as he wished me luck finding a black oystercatcher.

The Search Continued for the black oystercatcher …

As I was heading back to my van, especially since a local person reminded me I can only park for 2 hours at the spot I was in, I thought it would be crazy for any bird except seagulls to be hanging around on a beach with all these people. So I walked even further from people when I noticed a body shape and color not like a gull. I thought I was dreaming, strongly hoping, wanting to envision the bird and in actuality it really did look like a black oystercatcher! 

Expecting most of my photos to be the beach, surfers and overall scenery, I did not have my longer telephoto lens on my camera. I walked slowly and with no flurry of activity as I took photos. Creeping ever so close to not disturb the bird, yet also making it possible for me to capture a photo worthy of some editing for a good final photo. I could not believe it, the bird looked one way and then another so I could take a few photos. When I looked down at my phone to drop a pin for location, the bird flew off. That was it! I had my observation, my photos and the bird was gone! Amazing luck!

Black oystercatcher!
Shellfish these birds eat

I saw the black oystercatcher at Cuvier Park, also called Coastal Boulevard Park, just south of the more popular La Jolla Cove in California where brown pelicans and seals are seen by thousands of visitors. No one else on this beach saw this black oystercatcher … I could not believe it … yet I saw it! My search is over. Someday I hope to see 2 black oystercatchers feeding on a mussel because I would like to see how they do it. Until then, I’m good!

Surfer was fun to watch
Black oystercatcher before flying off!

Hawk, Hummer and Hoot … What An Exciting Morning!

A bird feeder in your yard is not a necessity to observe birds. Take a look out a window or walk around your home and you may discover birds close by! 

The other morning a cooper’s hawk was sitting on our back wall. We just happened to be looking out our back window and there it was! It sat there for a period of time, enough time for me to grab my camera and capture a photo:

Twenty minutes later while working with a landscaper in our front yard, he discovered a hummingbird’s nest! It is definitely newly constructed. I will keep watch for any activity with hopes to observe a hummingbird some day sitting on eggs in the nest … time will tell! 

A hummingbird is 4 inches in size and their nest is even smaller. The cup-shaped nest may eventually hold 2 eggs in it. I took a close-up photo of the nest so you can see its shape. The nest is so small I had to stand inches away from it to even see the nest which is well hidden in the bush! Here is a photo of the nest:

As the landscaper and I continued working in the front yard, he saw an owl! If there be any good idea in doing the landscaping work, this landscaper helped me see a hummingbird’s nest and an owl right on our property! It was a Western screech owl that hid within the branches of a mesquite tree as it sat on our side wall. The wind was blowing and continued to knock the owl in the body, but it seemed to continue to sleep. I captured a photo when the wind blew the branches away from the owl. Finally the owl decides to move and we discover it on the ground on the other side of the wall! Now it sleeps in comfort and a protected place. Here are a few photos:

Common ravens, Harris’s hawks, red-tailed hawks, doves and various other birds fly overhead, including hummingbirds that visit our flowers … but seeing these three: Cooper’s hawk, hummingbird nest and Western screech owl … today were spectacular! 

Have you walked around your yard to see what wildlife is nearby? Even within concrete cracks there may be some living thing, so don’t overlook them! And keep your eyes on the sky as there may be something interesting flying overhead! Nature is around us all and to be enjoyed!