By: Craig MacDonald
CALIFORNIA–The beaches are for the birds on autumn weekdays. On first glance, one might think Santa Barbara, San Francisco or Mission Bay’s beaches seem bleak, but upon closer examination you can see they are beautiful in their own way as a paradise for bird life. On the bay, where motorboats, sailors and water skiers take over on the weekends, a lone seagull can be seen swooping and gliding, this way and that, taking his time as he picks and chooses fish for lunch.
Birds of many families are the only sunbathers seen today on the totally isolated beaches. Over on the nearby lawns, where energetic football and frisbee contests occur every weekend, it is these same birds who are still in control of things. Some have three inch long beaks and bony legs, which they bound around on, poking here, then there; taking an occasional peak over their shoulder as if to wonder, “Where is everybody?” Other birds, very young, choose to follow their mothers around, trying to imitate her every move, just like in the game, “Simple Simon.”
Many of the birds seem unconcerned as they wobble about, for they apparently know this is nearly winter and the beach is reserved for their pleasure. There aren’t even any dogs or horses around, and more peculiar, at this time the joggers are gone. The overcast, cool day has even discouraged bicyclists and hikers from taking their usual trails. At the east side of the bay, the tide is out and the popular basketball courts are bare, with their metal nets tingling against the hoops in the wind. Perched atop one hoop is a seagull; perhaps a lone sentry over the birds’ paradise. Below, another feathered friend bathes in a small puddle, left over from the morning dew. There’ s no doubt about it. California beaches are “reserved” on autumn and winter weekdays–the birds know and appreciate it. Maybe someone should post a sign: “The place is for the birds!”
Craig MacDonald is a guest writer on SeeCalifornia.com. The author is a former San Diego Union-Tribune reporter and publisher of over 15 books on California (goldrushglimpses.com).