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Old Apr 25, 2009, 12:11 AM   #1
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I was at Pismo Beach today, and I spotted a strange silhouette.



I walked under the pier, where it was hanging out, and it let me get fairly close to it. I have no idea what it is, some type of sea bird? I'm not much of a birder, so am clueless.

Some more pictures:





After I had taken a bunch of pictures, walked off a ways and then returned back twice, I finally got a bit closer than it liked, so it showed me its back.



While I don't get to the beach very often, I do visit occasionally. This is the first time I've ever seen this particular bird. I'd love to know what it is.
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Old Apr 25, 2009, 12:14 AM   #2
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I'm not familiar with birds of California...but it looks like a Cormorant.
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Old Apr 25, 2009, 12:51 AM   #3
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Thanks - I suppose it's a Brandt's Cormorant, they have a buffy brown band across the throat. According to my field guide, there are several different types that live along the Pacific Coast. This is the first time I've ever seen one and I had no idea what part of the field guide to look at. Thanks again for the ID!
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Old Apr 25, 2009, 9:40 AM   #4
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Well cormorant is a good guess. But the eye color is blue instead of green. Also the plummage and bill color indicates it might be a young bird. When it matures the bill should turn yellow. Nice shots. My guess its an immature Olivaceous Cormorant.
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Old Apr 25, 2009, 1:20 PM   #5
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mtngal wrote:
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Thanks - I suppose it's a Brandt's Cormorant, they have a buffy brown band across the throat. According to my field guide, there are several different types that live along the Pacific Coast. This is the first time I've ever seen one and I had no idea what part of the field guide to look at. Thanks again for the ID!
You're welcome. I like all the pictures and the detail you have captured in a black bird is excellent...I always find black is difficult to get a good meter reading and a good picture.

The composition of the first picture, makes this one a favourite for me.

What camera, lens and camera settings did you use ?
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Old Apr 25, 2009, 1:40 PM   #6
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Awesome photos, beautiful.
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Old Apr 25, 2009, 3:51 PM   #7
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mtngal wrote:
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Thanks - I suppose it's a Brandt's Cormorant, they have a buffy brown band across the throat. According to my field guide, there are several different types that live along the Pacific Coast. This is the first time I've ever seen one and I had no idea what part of the field guide to look at. Thanks again for the ID!
Yes, it is a Brandt's Cormorant, which is distributed along the West Coast of North America -it is a marine cormorant, and is not normally found inland away from the coast, as is the more widespread Double-crested Cormorant. The Olivaceous Cormorant mentioned by Bynx is a Neotropical species not normally found on the West Coast north of Mexico although it does reach into the Gulf Coast to the East of Mexico. Nice shots, Harriet.
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Old Apr 25, 2009, 11:40 PM   #8
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Thanks for confirming the ID, Penolta, I figured you would know what it was. From the guide it sounds like they are reasonably common, but I've never noticed one before (unlike the many Whimbrels I saw wading in the surf, lots of pictures of them).

Lesmore - I was lucky that this bird was standing under the pier and the marine layer hadn't finished burning off, so the light wasn't as bright as it could have been. I used center weighted metering, and these are almost full frame - cropped a bit off the top of at least one or two of them. I didn't try spot metering as I didn't want to completely blow out the background (though it is pretty much). I shot these with the K20 and the A300 f4 lens. My K20 tends to underexpose with most of my lenses so I leave it more or less permanently on +.3 Ev. I took the first couple of pictures using P mode and noticed that one was at 1/160 sec. I switched to shutter priority, using 1/400 sec. to avoid camera shake (these are all handheld, taken on a relatively short after-lunch beach walk). The ISO varied, the next to last picture was at ISO 2000, the last one at ISO 1000 (I use Auto ISO from 100-2000), the first one was 100.

Harriet
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Old Apr 26, 2009, 9:43 AM   #9
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Thanks, Mtngal for the details, much appreciated.
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Old Apr 26, 2009, 12:05 PM   #10
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Harriet, those are great photos of the Cormorant, great detail in the feathers.

Tom
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