If you’re a migrating bird, why not choose Southern California for your winter layover?

I almost went for the obvious and titled this post, “The Super Bowl is for the Birds.” I only watch the game with one eye, and that eye isn’t fully on alert.

There’s football–and then for me, there’s almost anything else!

Of course, here in the United States it is Super Bowl Sunday.

I enjoy any excuse for gathering with my family, and I never begrudge others the pleasure of THE game. I just don’t share in the interest.

I’m discreet. I can sit here with a laptop while the die-hards enjoy THE game, parked in the back of the room, still comfortably near the food, but not occupying a hold down on television viewing prime real estate.

My mind is elsewhere.

I know it was only yesterday Punxsutawney Phil  gave us the good news that spring is just around the corner. I performed a celebratory happy dance in response and then somehow jumped right into dreams of summer.

My summer is ocean and beaches and the time to fully enjoy.

Yesterday morning I was planning to meet Aimee and the girls at a little preschool function.  Freeway closures for a movie shoot necessitated a slight detour.

But the change in route proved interesting. Sitting at a traffic light I was mesmerized by a flock of sea gulls. No, not the 80s band, but a flock of at least three dozen California Gulls. We live inland; not on the coast.  It’s not unusual  to see an occasional lone gull.  But a flock? Unusual.

Once in rapid population decline, they must be making a come back.

Gull

I would be more than happy to have my information updated by anyone in the know, but I think this gull may belong to the Heermann’s Gull family. He is distinctly different form the California Gull, sporting predominantly gray coloring.

3 pelicans in flight

Heermann’s also play well with Brown Pelican’s, which thanks to aggressive conservation measures are plentiful on our local beaches.

Once again, I do my best to determine the species of birds. Because Southern California is winter home to many migratory birds, I don’t always recognize the new faces.

I believe these little guys are a member of the curlew genus and may be Whimbrels. Whimbrels are waders in a very large family, probably not originally from California, but a frequent visitor.

The best way to learn is observation, but I don’t live at the ocean. I do use the guidance of books and museums.

During our recent trip to Santa Barbara we spent some time at the Natural History Museum and enjoyed the shore bird exhibit. I was particularly interested in identifying a Cormorant. This isn’t a bird I know, but after reading about the Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island  I developed a greater interest.

Fish Eaters Cormorants

The woman, rescued after 18 solitary years on San Nicolas Island, wore a dress made of cormorant feathers. She had sewn the feather dress together using whale sinews. The birds (above) between the pelicans and the gulls are identified as cormorants.

There are some 40 species of cormorants and shags, but I don’t believe I have ever seen one other than behind glass!

We did have a very special little visit a month or so ago from a young Canadian Goose. He apparently temporarily lost his mother while on his migratory vacation to Laguna Beach.

If you find yourself separated from your flock, Laguna Beach is a nice place for your layover. The weather is mild, there is plenty to eat and the crowd is happy to see you.

I hope if I’ve labeled the birds incorrectly you’ll inform me! I do want to learn. There just isn’t enough time to learn about everything interesting is there?

Enjoy some warm thoughts this week. Spring is coming!

And for those who aren’t watching the Super Bowl, it just got interesting as they lost power in half the stadium. A delay could interfere with my Sunday evening Downton Abbey viewing. Now I’m paying attention!

The story behind the trip to Laguna Beach…a celebration weekend was in order!

I already shared some of the photos taken from our Laguna Beach weekend. It took some creativity with a calendar to carve out an entire three-day weekend in the busiest month of the year, but we had a reason to prioritize a get-away.

Curve of Coast Dana Point

We were cashing in on a belated  Mother’s Day present. In May I had promised my mom a full day of shopping in Laguna Beach.  A day at the beach would also be a late spring kick-off to a season we hoped would be full of many little get-aways.

Palm Grove

But in early May –before we even made it to Mother’s Day, my dad ended up in the hospital. A really tough bout with pneumonia left him so weak he had trouble swallowing his food without choking or aspirating. There are so many muscles involved in the swallowing process and you need to be physically strong for everything to work as it should.

Six months of speech therapy to strengthen those tricky muscles and rebuild the swallowing reflex coupled with months of sticking close to home and following  a bevy of doctor’s orders…

Rocky Plateau

And I’m delighted to report that dad is stronger and in better overall health than we could have anticipated.

So this was our celebration weekend.

For mom it was a delayed Mother’s Day shopping spree…we jump-started Christmas shopping instead.

And for my dad, I wish I had thought to take a picture of him thoroughly enjoying his restaurant meals.

palm and rocky cliff

Although it has been very hard for me to watch my parents go through such a difficult time, I’ve also found it lovely to watch them stay solid in their commitment to one another, unwavering in their personal faith, and disciplined to follow through with all of the therapies while patiently waiting for answers.

So it was absolutely necessary that we finally make it to Laguna, and instead of just a shopping day, extend to include an entire celebration weekend.

We had such a good time, we may need to make this an annual event.

And this week there are four of us ALL breathing lighter!

Mission Accomplished! I am completely de-stressified!

Would you be interested in seeing all 550 photos from our time at Laguna Beach?

No?

Well, how about just a few.

Here’s a brief look at coastal Southern California and the first day of December.

Laguna

I do wish I could REALLY share it with you.

December. All is calm, all is bright!