An adventure with purpose through the wilds that are science and daily life.
I went on a trip up to Monterey and the surrounding area. While there I was able to do some birding with my significant other. We received an e-mail notification that there was a sighting of a few rare birds in the area so we went to look for them. We were unsuccessful in seeing the Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) and the Tundra swans (Cygnus columbianus). Despite our best efforts the rain and a large amount of cow dung dashed our hopes and our shoes. The final vagrant alert was for a pair of Hooded Mergansers (Lyphodotyes cucullatus)- aka Hoodies. The alert said that they were at El Estero Park near a car wash so we walked around the whole lake, no luck. Just as we were about to call it a day I noticed a small pond across the street fairly close to the aforementioned car wash. My birding buddy was reluctant to check, but we did anyway. Turns out the little guys were over there. Our best guess is that it is more secluded as Hoodies tend to be fairly shy. Hoodies are the smallest of the mergansers by quite a large margin. They measure about 18 inches compared to the 25 inches of the Common Merganser (Mergus merganser).
The pair we saw in the pond
We also got to see both light and dark morphs of the Northern Fulmar (Fulmar gracialis), a new bird for both of us, and a Barn Owl (Tyto alba) hunting.