Early birds by the Sea

We woke pretty early this morning…
Let’s start again: I convinced my other half to wake up insanely early for a Sunday. Since he had just come back from overseas, I figured jetlag would be on my side. I had everything ready from the night before: cameras charged, tripod folded, everything packed and a bag for some snacks.

At 5 a.m we woke up and hit the road, doggy included, to arrive to Santa Cruz at 6.30. I have been in the wetlands, in the mountain and in my backyard, where there is an unusual bird activity this year due to the big amount of water that rain brought to a nearby pond. So I have waders, song birds, raptors, hummingbirds… now I wanted some seabirds.

The first thing we found was a long-bill curlew digging some food by the waves. And hungry seagulls as well. Look at this one, so beautiful with orange bill.

Next to him, a group of 4 to 6 sandpipers were rushing to get some food in between waves. At a distance I could see a pelican, strategically standing on a rock. That kept me busy for a while, until pelicans and seagulls started flying and a very playful sea lion made its appearance.

I had no interest in inland birds because I see them everyday, but I found some that I don’t see in my backyard, and they were fun to watch.

Meanwhile inland…

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Hawks, krestels and kites

My neighborhood has become an important place for many different types of birds to come drink water and sleep, eat and breed. From small hummingbirds to Canadian geese. But nothing is more impressive than the many types of raptors I see daily. Sometimes flying past my window. The red tail hawk is the most amazing for me.

Followed by the White tailed kite, which has the most exquisite feathers, rubi-red eyes, yellow claws and wings like angels, in a mix of white, grey and black. I see this bird is with a partner and it enjoys especially sunsets, when both stay up in the air, in vertical, facing the sun (this is when they actually look like angels.

A smaller raptor that is fast and cute (although a serial killer, I have to say) is the krestel, which in Spanish is called cernicalo. I always see them in pairs, as the White tailed kite, flying close to each other and enjoying the view of the sun as well. They fly low as they try to catch some small rodents. I the picture below you can see one of them with a dragonfly.

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Wetlands are the kidneys of the planet

In the wetlands, life comes at you with no filters. They are humid, can be smelly, hot and filled with mosquitoes and other bugs. I can say I come back home with having been attacked by a different type of insect every time I visit.

The great thing about the wetlands are the many other beautiful animals that visit every day to refresh, relax and call it a day. They attract bigger birds, like herons, storks and many others.

But wetlands have a very important mission. They are an important  ecosystem. Those muds, plants and bugs filter the water, that goes clean deep beneath the surface and fills subterranean streams.

They also retain the water we get from the rain so it does not go “wasted”, straight to the sea. Their capacity to absorb humidity and water makes them a rich source of nutrients and sediments for the earth.

At the same time they avoid floods because of this same capacity to absorb water like sponges. Wetlands also prevent coastal erosion and provide fish, seafood and crops like rice and salt.

Bug infested¬†waters are a magnet to many other species that keep the food chain and nature’s cycles alive. The bad news is that they are shrinking, so anything you can do to help is important. Visit, donate or contribute voluntary work to your local wetland. Talk about it, post your pictures, and make sure to respect the rules and the animals in it.

 

 

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