Monterey Stop #1: 17-mile Drive

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If you are ever in the Monterey Bay area, it is highly recommended that visitors go to 17-mile drive. It is a very popular scenic drive along the California coastline. It starts from Pacific Grove and goes out to Pebble Beach, highly known for its beautiful golf course and homes. I have taken this route many times, but I was really excited when Rick suggested we go out and see the Black Oystercatchers along that stretch of coastline.

We were out at Pebble Beach for about 6 hours and saw a lot of wildlife and a good number of Black Oystercatchers. In all, we counted 11 Black Oystercatchers, but none of the pairs had chicks. It was very encouraging to me that two of our five pairs that we have been monitoring, had fledging chicks.

Although we were on a mission to look for Black Oystercatchers, we were always getting distracted by all the other wildlife that we were seeing with our scopes. On our first stop along our drive, we stopped at Point Joe. Over our heads, we could see Turkey Vultures flying around trying to land on a dead seal carcass that was floating in the water. Although it was sad to see the carcass, I have never seen turkey vultures “in action”, working its way through the skin to the meat. I was also able to get good photos of a pair of Common Mergansers feeding at Point Joe. At first we though they were just mallards, but the colors on these mergansers proved otherwise.

Another cool little species that I saw was the Wondering Tattler. Rick told us a story about how a long time ago, when people use to walk around selling newspapers, the person selling the paper would read the headline stories to those who couldn’t read or couldn’t afford to buy the paper. They would walk around the streets, and say aloud what was written in the paper that day. These people were called tattlers; much like the wandering tattler who’s tail feathers were always bobbing up and down.

We also stopped at Bird Rock, an area that at one point in the season is covered with Cormorants. When the Cormorants are done nesting, the Sea Lions find a way up the rock, destroying the Cormorants nests. It was fun to see the juvenile Sea Lions jumping in the water.

Further down the drive, we stopped at an area that is closed off to the public during pupping season for seals. It was here that both Hugo and I saw Orca Whales and what could have either been a Blue Whale or Humpback Whale spouting and showing its back/tail. There was also an older Sea Otter that was floating on a bed of kelp, taking a nap.

If you are ever in the area, I would encourage you to take the time to do the scenic drive, because there is a lot to see. I could at least guarantee you that there will be plenty of gulls there to see. Its a great area to spot some Sea Otters and possibly some whales. Its good to know that there is a positive number of Black Oystercatchers that are taking advantage of the offshore rocks along Pebble Beach. I’m hopeful that next season there will be more chicks hatching!

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