Photo by Linda Ballou
View of Morro Rock, a volcanic plug in Morro Bay, California, on the Pacific Coast at the entrance to Morro Bay harbor. A causeway connects it with the shore, making it a tied island. The rock is protected as the Morro Rock State Preserve. (Wikipedia).
Winter on the Central Coasts means fewer tourists and plentiful wildlife. Birds and marine mammals gather there in chaotic profusion from December to February.
Every year, hundreds of birders flock to the sleepy fishing town of Morro Bay on Californiaâ€™s Central Coast to take part in the Audubon Birding Fest. The Pacificâ€™s saltwater mixed with the freshwater of streams flowing in the largest estuary on the west coast results in a nutrient-rich brew for thousands of birds. The charm of the rust-colored, reed-choked estuary is subtle, but upon closer inspection, you will find its beauty undeniable.
During the birding fest that takes place on Martin Luther King weekend, there are 140 different activities to match every level of enthusiasm. Be you a wild-eyed birder frantically checking off your life list, or a casual nature lover who just likes to add another dimension to their walks, there are activities for you. On â€śThe Big Day,â€ť birders are ferried around to birding hot spots in the region and often garner as many as 100 species to their lists. In the â€śLittle Sit,â€ť those who donâ€™t hike can enjoy the covered 4th Street Audubon Lookout overlooking the estuary for a couple of hours and observe whoever appears on the scene during that time. More than 50 species can be spotted with this very comfortable option. A list of birding hot spots and activities during the fest are on the Audubon website (morrocoastaudubon.org).