Monday, May 16, 2011

The Egret and the Oystercatcher

On our way from La Paz to Puerto Escondido prior to Loerto Fest, we spent one night anchored just off the beach north of Punta Prieta. With the wind out of the southeast and the swell out of the east, taking the anchorage just south of Punta Prieta, in the cove at San Telmo, didn't seem appealing. We continued around the rocky promontory that is Punta Prieta and pulled within 30 yards of the beach, immediately west of the rocks. We anchored in about 12 feet of water over sand. The three foot swell outside of the point was still being refracted to where we were anchored, but was diminished in size to less than a foot. We joined s/v Intuition, anchored 100 yards further off the beach (draft of 8') and later were joined by s/v Far Country. The night at anchor started out with a little roll, but by midnight both the wind and swell had subsided.

As is our custom, taking the first cups of coffee in the morning in the cockpit, we spent time enjoying the desert scape and the bird life on the beach. There were several snowy egrets spread out along the one mile beach. We've always found these birds to be solitary but never had an opportunity to observe them when more than one was present. Over the course of a half hour, we saw a number of instances where if two
came within 20 yards of each other, whether walking along the sand or landing too close, the dominant bird would challenge the interloper, chasing him both running and in flight until the dominant birds' territory was reclaimed and his solitude restored. We observed this behavior several times, up and down the beach.

Scanning the beach through binoculars, we observed an Egret foraging along the shoreline in the close company of another individual. An American Oystercatcher and the Egret seemed to be enjoying
an early morning stroll up the beach usually with less than a foot separating them. We observed them as they foraged together for over a quarter of a mile, each alternating taking the lead. While this was interesting to us, given the Egrets normal solitary behavior, we were amazed at what we saw next.

As the odd couple made their way further up the beach, they were approaching another beach combing Egret. When within approximately twenty yards of the solitary forager, the Egret from the odd couple took flight and challenged the lone stranger for territory. After successfully chasing the lone bird away, the odd couple Egret flew back and landed on the beach right next to the Oystercatcher and they continued their intimate stroll along the beach.

Anyone who loves nature and animals in their natural habitat, will find themselves mesmerized by the opportunities cruising in the Sea of Cortez offers for such experiences. Encounters, such as these, leave me with the same wonder of the world around me as when I was a young child.

1 comment:

Allkindsofsunglasses said...

sounds like a wonderful time, my dad loves nature so this would be perfect for him!