Saturday, September 26, 2009

Life on the Bait Barge

Continuing the San Diego Bay portion of our land-sea tour in the amphibious Seal, we approached the reason for our choice of this tour.

We were greeted by some regal-looking Brown Pelicans near Shelter Island.

Watching these pelicans, I remembered a limerick that I understand was penned in 1910 by Dixon Lanier Merritt, a Southern newspaper editor and President of the American Press Humorists Association:

A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His mouth can hold more than his belly can,
He can hold in his beak,
Enough food for a week!
I'm damned if I know how the hell he can!
(Some have credited this to Ogden Nash.)

Our tour guide mentioned that, much like humans, the younger pelicans have brown feathers on their heads while the older ones have white feathers.

According to wildlife experts treating ill and injured pelicans in Oregon and Washington, thousands of pelicans delayed their migration to California and Mexico last year as a result of mild weather and abundant food sources. The birds then became caught in advancing storm fronts and suffered from frostbite, hypothermia, malnourishment, and exhaustion.

We then approached a favorite hang-out for a number of birds and sea lions. The Bait Barge.

Here incoming boats drop off sardines and anchovies and fishing boats pick up this bait on their way out to sea.

San Diego County has over 480 bird species--more than any other county in the continental United States. Brown Pelicans, Snowy Egrets, gulls, and cormorants were just a few of the different species of birds that joined the sea lions in the wait for the next food delivery.

When these two big boys (right and below) arrived, the rest of the dinner attendees moved their seats to a more distant position on the barge.

I don't know if it is a matter of a full stomach or a sunny place or a case of one big happy family, but these next scenes are pictures of contentment.

As the amphibious Seal drove out of the water near Shoreline Park on Shelter Island, we passed this sculptural gazebo designed by James Hubbell. It is entitled "Pacific Portal" and represents a sailor’s dream, evocative of drifting clouds, cresting waves and billowing spinnakers.

The project’s primary goal was to create a beautiful gathering site for the Shelter Island community and for visitors to this spectacular bay front location.

Two beautiful gathering sites visited in one day--one for sea lions and birds and one for humans.

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