Ravens, Revisited

Young Russian Crow

Working through unedited photos from last summer, I came across several pictures of juvenile ravens from Kamchatka. Looking at them, I was reminiscing about that trip and the circumstances of encountering the birds. A friend and I were exploring an abandoned 5-story dormitory building outside of town we were in, when we spotted a raven’s nest perched high on top of the building. The juvenile raven, although able to fly, had not yet left the nest completely. His parents weren’t around and he was flying in circles around the nest. Distracted by our visit, he became curious.  Staring at my friend, he flew right into the building – not a glass window, mind you, but the wall of the building. He tried to regain his flight mid-air, but after loosing momentum, not very gracefully crashed to the ground. Luckily, he was flying slowly, and didn’t seem to have broken anything or hurt himself, but was still visibly shaken. Once on the ground, he scrambled on top of a rusted car to regain composure. I was able to take a few photos of him from a far, as he was sitting still, dazzled. Usually, corvids are very aware of having a camera pointed at them, and photographing them can be a challenge. After several minutes his parents showed up, made a raucous, and he took off for the nest.

Young Russian Crow

On another day, on the other side of town, we came across a nest with three young crows. Our goal was to observe coastal salmon fishermen, fishing trap nets set a couple of kilometers from shore. We found an abandoned military tower used for observations of approaching Japanese and American submarines. The tower was perched on top of a hill with a good overview of the coast below. As we were scrambling along the rusted stairways, we came across a nest on one of the tower platforms. The three youngsters hadn’t fledged yet and were bound to the nest. Their parents, again, weren’t around, and we literally had to step over the chicks walking around the platform to get to the top of the tower. They hugged one side of the platform as we were passing, and we crawled along the other. They didn’t seem too concerned about our presence and I took a few photos on my way down from the top.

Juvenile Russian Crow on Nest

Juvenile Russian Crow on Nest

Piscivorous Birds

I feel like I am cheating posting another photo of a Brown Pelican, especially that my dedicated Brown Pelican posting was only a month away. But I am a bit overwhelmed, and my anticipated posting on the Klamath River Yoruk tribe commercial fishery will have to wait till next week. To tie the post together, here’s a photo of an osprey looking for fish.

Sea nettles

During my move to northern California a few months back, I stopped by the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Oregon. It is one of my favorite public aquariums by far, although I haven’t made it to the Monterey Bay Aquarium yet, and I hear it’s quite nice. It was a January morning with very few visitors, so I had the aquarium mostly to myself.

A large display with Sea nettles captivated me. It was very meditative watching slow-moving jellyfish in a dimly-lit room. For these shots, I post-edited the images, desaturating the deep-blue color of illuminated water, emphasizing shapes and colors of the jellyfish.


California Brown Pelican

It’s hard to miss these peculiar brown birds gliding, in small groups, above braking waves of the ocean edge, disappearing into the fog. The Brown Pelican is the smallest of the 8 species of Pelecanus. It’s mesmerizing to watch them glide 30 feet above the surface looking for aggregations of small fish, bomb-diving for them, once spotted, head straight down, wings half-stretched, often disappearing completely under the surface.

I’ve noticed that a feeding pelican is often accompanied by a single sea gull that follows the pelican around, landing a foot away when the pelican emerges with its mouth full of fish, the gull hoping for the spills. Just like the best place to see the Bald Eagles in Alaska is around municipal dumps, a good place to watch pelicans in coastal California is around newly-returned charter boats filleting fish and throwing guts overboard.

Sea Lion Pup


I’ve been spotting California sea lion and harbor seal pups lately around beaches from Fields Landing to Crescent City, California. As adorable as they look, it’s not a good sign that they mingle so closely with people. Being so young, they are very trustworthy and the Crescent City-based Marine Mammal Rescue Center has been busy capturing and rehabilitating them. Last week, I almost tripped over a sleeping harbor seal pup on a beach in Trinidad. He was so out of it, sleeping in the sun on warm sand that if I didn’t look down at the last moment, I would’ve stepped on him. As a California Fish and Game employee, I have no enforcement or jurisdiction over any people – marine mammal interactions, but have found it effective to use my badge to keep tourists from cutting the pups’ access to water and preventing people from touching (!) them.