Southern Wildlife Preserve: Trip 2
July 20, 2011

Working with the idea of wetland avifauna, I returned to the Southern Wildlife Preserve. The tide was much lower than before, and there were fewer animals apparent in the basin. I planned to take a walk along the paved bike path toward the ocean in hopes of seeing a wider variety of birds than in my previous visit. Additionally, I switched my support system from the tripod to the monopod to see if it could be of any use for future hikes.

I was first greeted by the same crustacean-catching yellow-crowned night-heron. After mild success photographing it last time, I moved on down the river. In the middle of the basin floor and far out of reach sat terns, squawking amongst each other while cormorants perched quietly above on a transmission line. I waited there to see if any movement in the vicinity would yield and opportunity to take any of these birds, but it really was a slow morning. Not too far up the path, I saw the breakfast-eating peregrine falcon atop the transmission tower. It was difficult to distinguish what exactly the meal entailed, but I figured it might have been a pigeon.

The low tide meant that shore crabs risked creeping further from the rocky banks to feed on the water's edge. Birds of all sorts subsequently took brisk walks along the banks to pick up the now obvious meals. A small willet, camouflaged with speckled feathers, calmly sifted through the kelp scraps washed in from the ocean in an effort to choose proper sized bites.

I noticed in retrospect that this outing had a relatively unfavorable walking to photographing ratio. Most of the birds were out of range or hidden in really tall trees making it difficult to obtain decent pictures. On top of that, identifying the birds in the glaring and gloomy sky soon became bothersome. Looking across the river, I photographed birds in flight, but the images yielded a bleak background of the gloomy sky, freeway, or rocky banks. It became clear that my efforts would best be centered on birds already on my side of the bank.

Further up the bank motionlessly stood a great blue heron. Alike the previous two fishers, it too was looking for shore crabs along the banks. It later flew out to the middle of the basin demonstrating how shallow the water really was.

At the end of the river was Dog Beach, inhabited by humans and dogs, and common seabirds. I turned back and spent some time watching the night-heron preening its scruffy plumage before leaving. The trip was mildly interesting, but I was bothered by my choice of monopod over tripod. Despite being rated for over seventeen pounds, it was unable to stabilize a load of under ten pounds, making me weary of its dependability in the field.