Today’s Featured Guest Writer is Robyn Waayers:
Gary and I took a little trip yesterday to explore the beach just north of Imperial Beach and south of Silver Strand State Beach. A lot of organic material had washed ashore, including masses of California Mussels, as well as much kelp.
Mussel mass with surf grass
Some of the mussels had Leaf Barnacles attached.
California Mussel with Leaf Barnacles
This is a beach popular with clammers due to its concentration of Pismo Clams. What I presumed to be immature clam shells were here and there on the shore.
A small clam – about 30 mm in length
A larger specimen, but nowhere near the final adult size!
Most of the shells on this beach are heavily wave-worn, like this Chestnut Cowrie.
Chestnut Cowrie, after much rolling around in the sand and surf
The beach was surprisingly bird-filled, with Willets, Marbled Godwits, and Forster’s Terns being present in numbers (the Forster’s Terns in large numbers as they fished in the huge anchovy schools off shore). We also saw the occasional Royal Tern in full breeding plumage. A lone Long-billed Curlew graced the beach and we saw several more in the Tijuana Estuary area later.
Long-billed Curlew, with the Silver Strand and downtown San Diego, as well as the Coronado Bridge, visible in the background
We saw easily over a half dozen Snowy Plovers skulking in the higher, drier portions of the beach as well. Signs discourage people or dogs from walking in their territory, but no fences exist, as we saw in Oregon last month for the protection of this species. The plovers are extremely well camouflaged, and tend to move in short bursts of activity, as opposed to just meandering around as the Willets do.
Snowy Plover standing at the edge of a tire track!
We also saw a merganser hanging around the edge of the water, and occasionally entering the shallows. A scoter (probably a Surf Scoter) was seen fishing in the shallows, as well.
Scoter in shallow water.
About the author: Robyn Waayers has lived in San Diego since 1977, and teaches biology at three local community colleges. In her spare time, she is a lover of all things natural history, roaming the region with her camera and an eye for new things. Her website is Shoreline Ramblings, to which she has also posted this article. All photographs are the property of Robyn Waayers.