Friday, August 21, 2009

Urban Wildlife

On our way home from San Diego, we joined Iris' Girls Scout Troop for a kayak tour with La Vida Laguna. When I first saw the pounding surf at Laguna Beach's Fisherman's Cove, I wasn't sure I wanted to launch off the beach there. The guide pointed out that the rocks formed a natural jetty and that we would paddle through a gap in the rocks. Gulp.

Mark told me to trust the guide; he does this everyday. It didn't help when another tandem kayak capsized in the surf as they tried to negotiate their way through the gap. Iris and I made it, and (as promised) the water was glassy beyond the rocks. Mark accompanied another scout whose parents were unable to attend.

My camera never made it out of the dry bag. But we saw garibaldi (little orange fishes), a kelp forest, bird rock (suitably white-capped from the guano), and elephant seals. As we rowed between bird rock and seal rock, a flock of pelicans flew in formation overhead. It was beautiful.

As we approached seal rock, the sea lions swam out to investigate us. They flipped and swam between the kayaks until they got tired of us, then they headed back to sunbathe on the rock.

Last Sunday, we biked along the San Gabriel River Bike Path with the LA Wheelman.
Description from the ride schedule:
Sunday, August 16 - 8:30 a.m.
PICO RIVERA & BIKE TRAIL(Long 75, Medium 48 - 800 feet, Short 35) I was wondering what “Pico Rivera” means, but it turns out the name of the city comes from the fact that it was formed by the joining of two cities – Pico and Rivera. So I guess it doesn’t really mean anything. Well, it doesn’t matter because it’s the bike trails that will concern us more today. The long makes a big loop by heading into Orange County (over a few hills) to pick up the Santa Ana River trail south to the coast. After lunch in Huntington Beach, it continues north to the San Gabriel River trail and up the river back to the start. The medium travels down to Seal Beach for lunch, going down on the Coyote Creek and San Gabriel River trails and returning back up the San Gabriel. The short never quite makes it to the coast, but travels down and back on the San Gabriel with a loop in Long Beach for lunch. The bike trails are perfect for a summer day – flat, no traffic and cool as they near the coast. So come on out and join us for more Rivera and less Pico.
At first, I was so startled by the sight of large birds on the San Gabriel River that I kept count. But then it became clear that they were too numerous. Who would have thought that so many birds would live on the banks of a concrete river? We saw more than ~3 great blue herons and ~30 snowy egrets and at least a dozen avocets.

Here's one group of snowy egrets.
Closer up.
We didn't have the camera handy when we passed the herons. At one point, a great blue heron flew alongside our tandem. They really have a blue tinge!

A friend sent email explaining:
You have 2 different egrets here.

The one on the right is a snowy egret (yellow feet and black bill).
The one on the left is the great egret (black feet and yellow bill).

I was so excited when I learned the difference.

The [snowy egret] with yellow feet uses its feet as a lour shaking them under the water to attract fish, which it proceeds to eat.

Wonderful birds.
Read more about the wildlife along the river and near the shore.

We stopped for brunch with the medium group (short/medium/long ride options) in Seal Beach. This mountain bike made me feel better about my mountain bike turned commuter bike. Notice it has front and rear shocks, but with skinny road slicks (tires).

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