Photographing the Birds of Morro Bay

Our West Coast adventure had brought my husband and me to the shores of the
Pacific Ocean to a small tourist community named Morro Bay. From the balcony of our
hotel, we could see both the ocean and the bay, as well as the small strip of the land that
separated the two bodies of water. The smooth waters of the bay provided a quiet harbor
for sail boats to moor and for various types of small crafts to ferry out to the sea. The
marine activity afforded picture-perfect ambiance for a seaside vacation day.

After settling into our room, we decided to drive the main street that ran parallel
to the bay in order to peruse the city, discover it’s lay out, and determine our activities for
the afternoon. Boutiques and restaurants lined the sidewalk inviting the tourist to stop
and shop while the ocean shore stretched into the horizon beckoning the sightseer to
pause and play. Morro Bay offered small boat excursions in hopes of whale sightings, a
humble aquarium for viewing marine life, and bicycle or kayak rentals for touring by
land or sea. We elected to park our car, walk the pier, and photograph the many
picturesque sights of the charming seaside community.

Sea gulls and pelicans flew overhead, often landing near us as though posing for a
photo op. Their squawking provided the expected audible background for a day at the
ocean. Hoping for scraps of food, the birds would approach almost within arm’s reach. I
was recording their presence and beauty on both video and still photography.
Another tourist, who was watching us watching the birds, suggested that we drive
out to the large volcanically-produced rock that jutted out of the ocean floor and provided
the backdrop for Morro Bay. Birds and other marine life made their homes on the rock
island, and he assured us that we would be sure to enjoy bird observation from that

Taking the man’s advice, we drove the scenic route to the island. We parked on a
strip of sand between the mountainous rock and the expansive ocean. We devised our
strategy. I would step out of the car to take the pictures. My husband would remain in
the car, roll down his window, and throw bread to the two sea gulls near our vehicle.
Within moments, two sea gulls turned into twenty and twenty turned into almost a
hundred. The car was surrounded with hungry, aggressive, assertive, large, formidable
winged fowl. They landed on the hood and roof, they circled overhead, they lighted on
the sand creating an intimidating atmosphere. Suddenly, our day of filming the birds
turned into a day of running for your life. My husband was bordered by the car’s metal
body creating a perimeter of safety between him and the birds; while I, on the other hand,
had only a lens and shutter for protection.

I thought about the Alfred Hitchcock movie, The Birds, and wondered if my fate
would be that of Tippi Hedren. While my mind was lost in movie trivia, my husband
began to slowly move the car. Unbeknownst to me, he had a plan that was more
beneficial than driving away and leaving me to the birds. As he moved, the birds took
flight and dispersed.

He circled around to get me; I jumped into our fortress of safety, and we drove
away with our lives and photos intact. Of course our car and our dignity were a little
stained, but we have some great shots of sea gulls at Morro Bay.

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