La Jolla Cove: Trip 4
July 18, 2011

Here is another lovely day at La Jolla Cove. This is my fourth post regarding this part of town, but my repetitious behavior towards the cove, its inhabitants and scenery has not become dull to me. It seems that each time I am compelled to fulfill an elusive image or a new idea. This trip I was hoping to take more photos of awkward pelican and cormorant landings observed a few days earlier.

After sitting around the rocks waiting for pelicans to take interest in the clearly popular bird-dropping-clad roost, I dropped my initial goals and focused on more immediate animals. On first look, the closest animals solely included western gulls. Over the last few days, I had taken an unparalleled interest in these common folk that I needed a break and thus decided not to overanalyze them. Below me, once again, sat harbor seals, some recently swimming and some recently basking, and above me flew cormorants back and forth from the nesting cliffs to the open ocean.

First, there was a need for a picture of the double-crested cormorant, the species of cormorant that looks the least like an archaeopteryx when airborne, and yet holds the highest loch ness monster resemblance when buoyant in the water. In the past, I have encountered difficulty in finding clarity in the cormorant due to a combination of its high speed flight, dark plumage and ocean-skimming flight path. I realized that during its departure from and arrival to the cliffs at sunset, all three of these issues are neutralized allowing me a good chance to achieve the photograph I imagined.

Cormorants are everywhere in this part of town: in the pines, on the tidelands, on the cliffs and in the ocean. I noticed another cormorant of interest as it waddled decently close to me, stuck in a dilemma of whether to enter the surf or not. It only took a bit of marching around the slippery surface before the wet bird dove back into the ocean and converted its silhouette to that of a rubber duck. These rocks where the cormorant stood accommodated the seals and sea lions seen earlier. The few present at that time seldom moved or opened their eyes except for the regular checks for the intruding proximity of humans.

The sun was setting already and I had little success in photographing pelicans. Many passed nearby to return to the roost on a separate cliff dwelling from the cormorants. There were old veteran ones with frayed feathers and younglings with a pristine plumage, but none found the digital sensor a great image. The day was almost done, but I needed just one more picture. As you may remember, I have been interested in distinguishing different sea gulls from one another, a commonly ignored practice in my world until now. About fifty feet away sat a pair of clearly different gulls, seen in their red beaks with black tips and uniform gray feathering along the body. Upon research, it appears that these are Heermann's gulls. I will be sure to look out for more of these in future outings in the area.

With the sun setting, I took the last pictures looking toward the horizon. The giant sun slowly dipped into the ocean behind thin lines of clouds coloring only the sky above.