The young Red-tail Hawk that left its nest at Whale Point last month has been a noisy neighbor this month (July). It spent most of the month heavily flapping up and down the canyon, crying “keeyer, keeyer,” while the mother soared nearby. I felt sorry for the harried mother! Sometimes the mother fed it snakes. This has happened in previous years, but never has the young hawk been so demanding (or, at least, so loud about it). Perhaps this one was extra hungry or maybe it was just the bird’s “personality.” On July 29 or so the activity tapered off, and it has been quiet in the canyon the last two days. I suspect the family left the nest area.The last week of July has seen the arrival of migrants from the south, including flocks of Heerman’s Gulls. These beautiful gray birds breed on islands off the coast of Mexico, including Ildefonso Island in the Sea of Cortez, and spend the late summer, fall, and winter along the Pacific coast. The Brown Pelicans appeared as well after their breeding season on the Channel Islands off southern California, and now are diving for fish in the kelp beds along the coast.
The three Pelagic Cormorant chicks I saw last month were still in the nest on July 13, very large but flightless. About seven adult birds were in the nest area but flew off at my approach. Since many safer and more convenient rocks are available for roosting, I wonder if the adults I saw were relatives (which may help feed the chicks). I assume at least two were the chicks’ mothers. The Pelagic Cormorant has a white side patch, a long slender bill, and glossy blue-green feathers.
Up at Cone Peak I noticed that the Santa Lucia Fir trees lack cones this year for the fourth or fifth year in a row. This large, shapely tree is one of California’s most spectacular endemic species, living only in the Santa Lucia Mountains. I wonder if the drought has affected them, or if their reproduction naturally goes in cycles. Many trees have what is known as “mast” fruiting in which they produce masses of seed an infrequent intervals. One theory to explain this is that it prevents seedeaters from building up their numbers to the point at which they eat all the seed.
Paddling a borrowed ocean kayak off Big Creek, I found that the Harbor Seals need a clear zone of about 400′ feet from their haul out points. Approaching closer than about 200′ drives them into the water. If you are out in the water and see the seals, be a good neighbor and give them room so they don’t have to interrupt their “warm” time on the rocks. (7/31/91)