Horned Puffin

10 Jun

Horned Puffin
(Fratercula corniculata)
Originally uploaded by La Maquisarde

Horned Puffins have been seen in the Santa Cruz area since late March or so. Lately, there have been many, many reports of them. There has been a great deal of excitement on the local birding listserv and I finally “got a piece of it” today. Hurrah! Talk about your basic Life Bird!   Number 99 on my Life List!  And, by going out and looking for my Horned Puffin, I got to do my bit for Citizen Science. Yippee! {Click!}
Natural Bridges State Park

Natural Bridges State Park was my first stop. I was at the ocean level (ankle deep, in fact) and the odds of seeing one were slim because even with just a gentle swell, a small bird like a puffin could easily be hidden behind waves. I did see some cool birds — lots of gulls, an egret, a couple of Brown Pelicans, and some cormorants — maybe a grebe or two as well. There quite possibly was a Puffin there but I wouldn’t have seen it from my angle. . . so, I went to another location — Marine Lab and Aquarium on the cliff tops. When I got there, there were a few other people there. One stayed and continued scanning the kelp beds. I figured he was a birder but there is so much to see there that I didn’t assume he was. I saw something I was fairly sure was the puffin and then moved to another spot to see if a different angle helped. He asked me if I was looking for the puffin and confirmed that what I was looking at was, in fact, a young puffin. He said an adult was their earlier but had left. I’m sorry that I missed it — that would have been cool!

But, this is the first time I’ve gone looking for a rarity and actually found it. I barely restrained myself from doing a happy dance right then and there! The picture I included above was taking by a wonderful local photographer, La Maquisarde in late March. She took this picture the same day I did my first Puffin hunt (which was unsuccessful). I’m glad I finally got to see one but I am still looking forward to seeing one when I can see it well. That would be nice!

Here are a couple of birds I did see well at Natural Bridges . . .

Egret at Natural Bridges

Snowy Egret
Egretta thula


Brown Pelican
Pelecanus occidentalis californicus


8 Responses to “Horned Puffin”

  1. jayne 10 June, 2007 at 3:46 am #

    What a beautiful place! Sharing in your happy dance. :c)

  2. Pam 10 June, 2007 at 5:07 am #

    Cool that you saw a Horned Puffin Lizalee! I’m happy dancin’ with you! And I love the Natural Bridge – how cool!

  3. robin andrea 10 June, 2007 at 6:16 am #

    A Horned Puffin in Santa Cruz! Wow. That’s fantastic. I love seeing the pic of Natural Bridges. Roger and I used to bike ride to the Marine Lab all the time and stand on the cliffs, staring down into the kelp beds. What a grand place to birdwatch.

  4. mon@rch 10 June, 2007 at 6:56 am #

    Those Horned Puffins are soo cool looking! Also, really love your shot with the pelican and the ocean! BRAVO

  5. Mary 10 June, 2007 at 6:01 pm #

    I share your happy dance, too. Maybe I have said this before…”I miss water and the bay and the ocean…”

    Good job, Liza. What a splendid day.

  6. Mary Carlson 10 June, 2007 at 8:35 pm #

    Hi Liza – so glad you got to see your Horned Puffin. I had not been aware that Horned Puffins are “hanging around” our part of the Pacific Ocean these past few months. And then I saw something on eBird earlier today about the puffins on the California coast, and that yesterday was a “counting” day. How cool you got to participate. I haven’t been to Natural Bridges for quite a few years; that is such a lovely place. And you saw brown pelicans, too! Funny, I took a trip to Alaska a few years ago and saw puffins then and there. And I went to Texas to see brown pelicans a couple years ago. The funny part is that I can see these two species in my own “neighborhood!” 🙂

  7. Susan Gets Native 10 June, 2007 at 8:35 pm #

    Good for you, Miss Thang!

  8. booklogged 10 June, 2007 at 10:23 pm #

    My heart did a dance when I saw the title of your post. So cool that you saw your Horned Puffin. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that you get to see one closer.

    My husband’s a bird watcher. We’re going to Newfoundland this summer and we’re hoping, praying that we get to see some Atlanta Puffins. Some fairly good pictures would be terrific, too.

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