Thursday, November 29, 2007

Red Tide

There's been a rusty-red tide here in Monterey Bay and hundreds of sea and shorebirds have been sickened or killed by it. There has been extensive research done and as far as it can be determined, the tide is a natural phenomenon, but quite possibly exacerbated by fertilizers and run-offs.

The tide shifts from place to place, and right now it's back in the Santa Cruz area having traveled from Moss Landing and Monterey. We have definitely noticed the impact on bird life here. In addition to seeing three dead birds, we've seen strange behavior, like this seabird propelling itself seal-like to get on to the shore. At first we weren't sure if this bird had been injured. Its movements looked so wrong. But after conferring with friends and fellow bloggers, it seems like it was moving the only way it could on land, but its presence was troubling nonetheless. Why would a seabird come ashore like this?
We went back down to the wharf to watch the Grebes (this may be a Clarks or a Western), to get an idea of how these birds move in the water. It was a relief to see those little legs and feet propel these birds around, and yet look absolutely useless as land legs. It occurred to us while we were watching them in the water just how much those legs are more like flippers than anything else. No wonder they look so peculiar on land.

The best hope for this tide to move on will be for rains or big winds. As much as we have been thoroughly enjoying this balmy November weather, we'll take the wind and rain if it will restore the waters to their blue and beautiful state.

Bonus Red-Shouldered Hawk Pic: Yum.

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