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Looking back on Morro Bayís Winter Bird Festival

Posted: Tuesday, Feb 7th, 2017

Birds on the sandpit at the 2017 Bird Festival (Photo by Ruth Ann Angus)

MORRO BAY ó You would think after attending the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival for 20 years that it would get old, but it just never does. So, for the 21st time I got my butt out of bed early and ambled down to the waterfront to ride along with a group of birders on the Bay Birding Cruise so well put on by the guys running the Dos Osos catamaran at Sub Sea Tours.

Most years I attend a variety of the 144 events but this year all I could fit in to my schedule was this fun boat ride on our bay which is a good way to easily get to see most of the birds that frequent Morro Bay during winter months as well as marine mammals that spend time here also.

The day was blustery and downright cold even though the sun was shining. Bundled up we all sat low in our seats as we headed out to our first sighting of a pigeon guillemot, an oceanic bird that migrates along our coast but isnít always seen in Morro Bay. Then two frolicking sea otters entertained us right next to our boat.

As we continued our way towards the harbor mouth, the wind came up and temps with the wind chill felt like they were in the 20s. I canít remember being that cold out on the water in all the years Iíve been involved with the bird festival. So, I was happy when we turned to head back into the shelter of the sand spit. On the way, we delighted in seeing another rather rare bird visiting Morro Bay, a red-necked grebe.

After a nice visit to the California sea lions that lounge around on the floating dock in the bay we were anxious to get down the bay to see if we could find the osprey that was reported being seen earlier. Suddenly the cry was loosed, ďosprey on the tall mast dead ahead!Ē My camera was ready and just as I was about to click the shutter, the blasted bird took flight. I took a chance anyway and click, click, I got him!

Ospreys werenít common here, however in recent years more than one seems to have found our little bay desirable. Now it would be nice if we could raise a tall pole with a wide perching place for a pair to build a nest.

The bird festival attracted 600 participants visiting our town and over 211 bird species were seen. Everyone I spoke to had a fabulous time and plans to return next year for the 22nd bird festival. This is one event that not only solved a dull tourist time for businesses but also spread the word just how important Morro Bay and its adjacent estuary are to the world. Even though I think I was a bit hypothermic after the two hour tour the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival was hot stuff! Iíll be doing it again next year.

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