At sunrise the Pacific was flat with just a hint of morning mist hanging off the coast of Santa Cruz one of the five Channel Islands. I sat with my morning tea watching the shore birds dash around looking for breakfast. Marbled Godwits, Whimbrels, and Willets made up this early morning crowd. A wave comes in then retreats and they scurry down to the edge of the water to poke and prod the wet sand looking for sand crabs and small invertebrates. They usually get away before the next wave but sometimes the wave will wash over their slender heads as they come up with something particularly yummy and worth the cold splash. The Sanderlings, much small birds, run in a pack of ten or twenty and they rarely get wet. They perform a choreographed ballet dancing between the wet sand and water.
In front of a cresting wave a pelican glides effortlessly only inches from the water. Near sunset a dozen or so birds will glide single file for miles. I often wonder if they are looking in the clear water of the wave for fish swimming by. They also hunt fish from about twenty feet then plunge headfirst into the water resulting in a dramatic splash.
Beyond the breakers, small groups of Bottle-nosed Dolphins travel up and down the beach feeding on fish. There is a photo of dolphins riding a wave off Ventura but I've not seen it in the wild. I did see California Sea Lion in a wave snatching himself a large fish once. What a treat.
For other post about this lovely area click on the label "Rincon" at the bottom of this post.