Point Arena, California
Most Photos 2007 / 2008 Tom Reid
Point Arena, California
email me

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Please check out the pics @ the bottom of the page... you can click on most pics for a larger version.

If you mouse over some of the thumbs you can get a description of what it is about, assuming you're using Internet Exploder....

Arena Cove  Here is a photo taken from the bluffs south of the Arena Cove... if you draw a line from the end of the pier to the left side of the picture where the water meets the shore, you'll enclose an area on the north side of the pier in which Al hangs out 95%+ of the time he's here.

For the current Point A weather conditions and 5 Day Local AccuWeather® forecast click on the little pier picture.

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3_18_2008 Al  B. Tross update:   Looks as if Al has booked... the last confirmed sighting (by The Rockman, one of his bestest surfer friends) was the middle of the 3-2-2008 / 3-9-2008 week, maybe Wednesday of that week... so it looks as if our buddy is off on his / her trip to Midway Island or wherever... here's hoping that sweet creature makes it back for another winter season, hoping that the way we have screwed up the oceans has not created such a toxic mess that Al gets poisoned or trapped by plastic or whatever... he seems to be a crafty fellow; here's hoping he can avoid any man-made obstacles that would hinder his adventures and well being...

3_14_2008 Al  B. Tross update:   I've been unable to spend as much time @ the cove this last week as usual, therefore my report today is rather not great; I think I saw Al on Wednesday afternoon... key word being 'think'; the cove has not been conducive to activity by Al or our surfers, i.e. swirling currents that make it hard to paddle out and hard for Al to rest comfortably in his favorite spots. I'm guessing that the time is coming; read 'has already come' for his yearly departure... BUT! I'm a noted pessimist... who knows what tomorrow will bring?!

I went down to to the Saunders Reef Vista turn-out thing south of Schooner Gulch to shoot some tow-in surfers on Wave Runners getting some descent rides about a mile out... v. cool, btw... as I turned around to shoot the horses that live on the hills over-looking the ocean I was happy to see one of the resident Red Tailed Hawks cruising all around them... v. beautiful... you birders have a wonderful thing going, yes you do...

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3_10_2008 Al  B. Tross update:   I got outta Dodge for a few days over the weekend so I don't know what was up re: Al's cove attendance; he was here this morning, I do believe... I only had time to do a drive through; since it was a pretty good high tide it was a bit hard to tell w/ the unaided eye, but I'm pretty sure he was out there... when I went back later this afternoon I saw what could have been him, but it looked like a sea gull impersonating him. I got out the old binocs and sure enough, it was a sea gull in full 'Al' disguise... the little wretch!

3_6_2008 Al  B. Tross update:   re: Al; Here today, gone tomorrow? Nahhh, I'm being much too melodramatic... it's just that some of us are stressing that he's gonna leave soonly, as in "Bye... Bye, Bye... Baby, Bye, Bye..." as J. Joplin would sing... anyway, Al was here all day today, sitting in his outside zone... one of these days I'll do an official interview w/ several of the surfers who have taken a special interest in Al; the interest has been reciprocal. Al has pretty much bonded w/ a few surfers w/ whom it is apparent he recognizes, even when he's flying in for the day... he swoops down to greet them and then flys along in front of the cresting wave, riding the air push... one of the older guys said he looks like an old Corsair Bomber from WWII w/ both sharing the same distinctive wing shape...

3_5_2008 Al  B. Tross update:   Yoikes!!! I've been remiss in my reportage... my bad... Al has been very sporadic in his cove attendance of late... he was not here today @ all, as far as I know (sounds like Hillary, eh?) and, as further proof, if any is needed, that my menory is a thing of the past, I can't remember if he was here yesterday or not... *sigh* Since it is getting to be the time of the season that Al has booked in the past, whenever he goes missing like this we all wonder... is it Aloha time for him?

3_3_2008 Al  B. Tross update:   Of course, no doubt... Al was here all day today, after being here only a few hours total over the weekend... some of the surfers were joking that he has stayed away some weekends in response to non-local surfers coming to "our cove"... that's pretty funny, if you even remotely get surfer humor; mebbe Al thinks to his/her self "Hey, who are these non-local losers... it's my wave, my break... you guys get the heck outta here... and until then, I'm staying away..." but actually, of course, Al is a diplomat; he really does have his fave surfers, and one of the Harbor Masters, Deru, can actually call him over to the floating dock to come and say "Hi" and get a nuzzle on his beak (Al's beak, not Deru's:))

3_2_2008 Al  B. Tross update:   Well, as of 4:00PM today, no Al; decent surf, nice weather, an afternoon beer w/ my buddies, but Al took a pass... hmmm...

3_1_2008 Al  B. Tross update:   Yesterday, when I said "Al was here all day today..." I should have added that "all day" for me means if he's at the cove when I get there for the first time and here's there, and if he's there when I leave in the late afternoon, it counts as "all day"... to clarify things a bit, for those who wonder what times are the best for a sighting, he arrived yesterday @ approx 11:30AM and was there when I left @ 5:30PM or so... today he didn't arrive until mid-afternoon, between 2 & 3:00PM... and again was there when I left for home after 5:00PM.

2_29_2008 Al  B. Tross update:   Al was here all day today... the weather started off sunny and warm, but got a bit overcast in the afternoon... it's v. interesting to just kick back and watch him doing his thing in the water... I sat back on the beach against a rock on the north side of the pier, as Al cleaned and preened himself perhaps 50' away... he is v. aware of everything that's going on around him, much moreso than the other birds who hang out in the water w/ him; the seagulls are morons in comparison, and the other birds, the small ducks, cormorants, grebes, whatever, seem to spend all their time in a constant quest for food. He spends a lot of his waking hours keeping his feathers in perfect order, and picking here and there at the seaweed and things floating around him, and a lot of time just watching the world go by, in the slowed down pace of things in the Arena Cove.    *sigh*    I must be getting a bit soft thinking that his time for departure is near. Anyway, the weather is looking good for the weekend, thus the chances for an 'Al Sighting' are also looking good...

2_27_2008 Al  B. Tross update:   Our buddy has been here all day today... he was so close to the shore I took my little pocket shooter Canon G9 to the shoreline and called him over; he was happy to oblige and I clicked a few pics as close as I've ever taken them... when you open up this pic, remember it wasn't shot w/ the usual telephoto 300mm lens, 1.4x extender, 1.6 camera crop factor, and so on; just a point and click w/ a super wide angle lens from about 8 - 10 feet away... everyone was joking me that if I had a sardine for him he probably would have done some tricks for me! (Now before any of you get your knickers in a twist, there has been a strict "Do Not Feed Al" rule in affect for quite a while... he has only infrequently been given a herring or some other natural goodies over the years, but supposedly some mentally challenged surfer gave him a french fry a while back, hence the 'No Feeding' rule)... I should reiterate that some of Al's most protective friends are the surfers... they have interacted w/ him more than any other group... hell, they and a few of the guys who work on and off of the pier are the *only* humans who have interacted w/ him, and he responds to them very affectionately... (see pics from 2_19_2008 below) It's gonna be sad when he leaves... we all just hope he keeps on coming back, having survived whatever adventures he encounters in the time he's away...

80  Al from about 10 feet away

2_26_2008 Al  B. Tross update:   I had to rattle the old diesel truck up to Fort Bragg today (it's like sounds a bucket 'o bolts), so I didn't have time to scope out the cove until about 5:00PM; no Al... But, a very pleasant surprise awaited me on my way back down the coast. As I was pulling out of Albion after a quick refreshment stop I saw two geese swooping in for a landing... landing where, I did not know, so I pulled over and discovered that at some point the residents of a house just off Hiway #1 dug a nice small pond, and have been putting out whatever it is you put out when you want to attract water fowl... corn comes to mind, and from a distance that's what it looked like... anyway, there were quite a few birds there, geese of 2 varities, ducks of different markings and colors, etc. I took a few pics for you all to see, and while driving home I thought that the birders, on the coast @ least, must already know of this little pond... it was a v. fun discovery for a neophite like me!

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2_25_2008 Al  B. Tross update:   Our friend was bobbing about most all day today, after the ocean calmed down in the early afternoon... it's kind of sad to think that his visit is almost over... having to start thinking about other subjects of interest to put in this site, or simply shut it down until Al's return in the fall... meanwhile, there was a wonderful Blue Heron sighting late this afternoon @ the cove... 8 - 10 of us were BS'ing on the southside of the cove parking lot, making a bit of a racket, when what should fly in and land in a cypress tree not more than 30 yards from us but a beautiful blue heron... he didn't stay more than a few seconds (I guess he didn't want to be associated w/ riff raff :)) but he only flew to the other end of the parking lot, up about 50 feet or so in another cypress tree... here are two pics, one of him being in a very relaxed state, during preening and cleaning, and the other of him being startled by an uppity raven, who dive bombed him... note his top knot at total attention as the raven passes by... lucky shot for me! (PS I had to leave the full size pics in a much larger format than usual, 782K & 570K, because for whatever reason the program I use to sort and file my pics, Picasa from Google, decided to completely change the file structure used to organize my pics, so @!&^##, now what?!?!?! ACKKK!!! This kind of thing drives me crazy... why don't these ****** guys leave things that work OK alone?!?!?!? RANT RANT RANT!!! Oh yes, the point being it will take quite a while to down load today's pics, but I think you'll find it worth while... the heron's top knot is pretty funny...

60  Blue Heron in a cypress tree       61  Blue Heron buzz bombed by Raven; if you click to enlarge this, note his top knot at attention!!!

2_24_2008 Al  B. Tross update:   The ocean conditions, not the weather, seem to be the deciding factor if Al is 'here' or 'there', wherever 'there' is... he was here bobbing about yesterday, Saturday, for most of the day, but booked as the ocean conditions worsened... when I went down to the cove today there was no sign of him, understandably since the swell was so gnarly waves were breaking into the parking lot; this w/ a high tide of only +4.9 Feet... this would have been v. interesting if the tide had been a +6.5 or higher... as it was, when I went to the cove @ 11:30AM to scope out the situation my car was totally slammed by a wave, even though I parked on the north side of the pier, the 'safe side', in expectation of some large wave action... luckily the rocks that were tossed up by the waves missed me by inches to the right of my car... sheesh, if my windshield would have been smashed I would have never heard the end of it... "Hey!!! Grom!!! Park farther from the rip rap!!!" or worse... :)

2_22_2008 Al  B. Tross update:   Al has been here and there the last few days... he was absent from school on Wednesday, here all day Thursday, and flew the coop all day today, Friday... can't really blame him today, as the cove where sits was a swirling mess... once again the fishermen / sea urchin divers say that he has a safe spot up the coast a mile or two, just south of the lighthouse; they say he sits out stormy weather from Pacific storms on one side of the rock and on the other when the Arctic storms hit...
Hopefully I'll pull on my wetsuit, squeeze into my flippers, climb on my Boogie Board, and swim out to visit Al w/ my underwater camera before he leaves for the summer... according to the surfers who interact w/ him his coloring is splendid right now... he's weathered and faded when he 1st gets here in the fall, but his coloring on his beak just before he leaves at this time of year is supposed to be beautiful... I guess he has to get spruced up for when he see's his sweetie on Midway Island... :)

2_19_2008 Al  B. Tross update:   No Show today for Al... nothing more to report... but here are a few pics of Tim B., one of the local surfers who has seemingly built up a rapport w/ Al... some folks who know about these things think it's definately a form of bonding... see for yourself:

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These pics were taken Saturday, 12/09/08 12:59PM using a Canon XTi w/ 300mm f/4L IS Lens + 1.4X Extender ISO 400 1/800 f/10.0

2_18_2008 Al  B. Tross update:   Well, this turned out to be a great weekend here... the birders got happy on Sunday and today, the surfers were happy all weekend because of the swell and resultant waves, and there were lots of interesting conversations between one and all on the end of the pier... fun times... Al put on a good show yesterday for everyone, running and flying short distances, doing lots of stationary wing extensions... and he interacted very nicely w/ a couple of surfers who have gained his trust over the years... super duper cool... it's wonderful how Al brings different categories of folks together... he's like an ambassador who flys in and just by his special presence brings a peaceful vibe to the cove... oops! I'm letting my old hippie side show... GOOD!!!

2_17_2008 Al  B. Tross update:   Happy Birders @ the cove today... Al's back! After a one day absence our friend was back bobbing around in his usual area on the north side of the pier... more later... later: yuppers, today was super fun on the pier; we had folks from Sacramento, B.C. Canada, Ukiah, and a few others I didn't get a chance to talk with at length... Al put on a good show for everyone... if you look at the pics below you'll see that Al did some nice wing spreads, and one of the local surfers, Rockman, called out to Al when he was coming in from his surf session; Al reacted by paddling 20 - 30 yards over to him to nuzzle and visit... so cool...

40  Al straight off the end of the pier - 30 - 40Yards       41  Al straight off the end of the pier - 30 - 40Yards       42  Al straight off the end of the pier - 30 - 40Yards
These pics were taken today, Sunday, Feb 17, 2008 at 1:45PM about 30 - 40 yards straight off the end of the pier.

2_16_2008 Al  B. Tross update:   No Al... he was absent all day, which was too bad for the folks I talked to who came up from the Bay area, and a couple from Bodega Bay; at least the weather was fine and the ocean was pumping... which leads me into yet another theory as to why Al is here sometimes and not others. The ocean conditions seem to maybe have an influence on his actions... the weather does not seem to matter, unless all hell is cutting loose, storm-wise, but several of the locals, me included have noticed that he seems to not like it when there is a huge swell, as there was today. But, as usual when making "educated guesses" re: Al, you could just as easily leave off the 'educated' part... it's all just a guess; unless he had a transmitter attached to one of his legs, we'll most likely never know... cool w/ me... The Mystery of Al continues :)

2_15_2008 Al  B. Tross update:   Questions abound!!! Or, I'm confuzzled; what else is new? Al was MIA this morning... the Harbor Master noted that he was Not Here as of 8:20AM... when I checked @ 12:00PM, still no Al... when I checked the log @ around 3:00PM there was an entry that Al was there as of 12:30PM, and, as a note of interest he was still there when I last checked @ 4:00PM... so it will be interesting to see if there were any Laysan sightings in the Bay Area this AM... Now, what am I confused and puzzled about?
This email came in today:
--- In SFBirds@yahoogroups.com, "oside054" wrote:

There is speculation the Laysan albatross near Golden Gate was the Pt.
Arena bird. I was in Pt Arena looking at the overwintering bird on
Sunday, Feb. 10, between approximately 10AM and 11AM. A post here says
a bird was in SF at 10:20 same day, therefore they can not be the same bird.

As I stated earlier, the two mornings in particular I noted Al's absence were Friday, Feb 8 and Sunday, Feb 10, so one of us is mistaken... I will certainly defer to Ed from Oakland, as I am not a birder by any stretch of the imagination, but... it will be interesting to see what the future holds, including if a Laysan was spotted this AM in the Bay Area. Anyway, here's today's pic, taken from the bridge over the Navarro River on Greenwood / Philo Road @ the entrance to Hendy Woods State Park, Mendocino County:
it's called "Two Ducks & a Friend"  The ducks look like hippies to me; note the long, unkempt hair? :)

2_14_2008 Al  B. Tross update:   1st off, the Hawaiin contingincy here has been over-ruled re: our favorite fryer's name... after taking a totally un-scientific poll (I asked a bunch of locals @ the cove; surfers, fishermen, derelicts, etc.) and it turns out that "Al" is much preferred to "Ross" w/ the state side crew... therefore... henceforth, forthwith, and from now on, Al it is... also I've put Log Sheets in the Harbor Master's office & on a table where folks who spend a lot of time watching the waves, the birds, and anything else of interest gather, asking for input on Al's comings and goings... we'll track when he's here, and if he's absent we'll hopefully hear from birders in the bay area if a Laysan Albatross is sighted down there again... just where that rascal goes when he's not here has been a mystery for years...
    Along these lines, rumor has it that some kids were seen throwing rocks at  Al a while back just before he was MIA for a few days... if the names of said kids become public knowledge, their parents will be made fully aware of the sitch... if it happens again, the little darlings will be get no presents from Santa...

and while we're at it, please click on this pic to enlarge it and tell us what you see... 35  What is that 'stick?' across his back?!?!?!

2_11_2008 Al / Alice / Ross the Albatross update   Interesting news: It turns out that there has been a Laysan Albatross sighting in the San Francisco Bay / Marin County area; here are a few emails explaining what's up:

Please remember, the posts are 'most recent on the top' and also please remember that trying to format emails using HTML code is nuts... just crazy :)

email to: Dave Jensen and Bob Keiffer, from me, Tom Reid, Point Arena:

I have an idea... I'm going to leave a folder @ the cove in which the Harbor Master, surfers, fishermen, and whomever can log what time of day they see our fine feathered friend... I know the response will be good, since everyone loves him, and would be inclined, even stoked to help in discovering any clues in solving the mystery re: "Ross the Albatross"... If the bird is here @ the same time he's seen in the SF area, it would prove that there are two different birds; the opposite (here's here but not there, or vice versa) would not prove it's him, flying back and forth, but we'd at least have a clue, eh?

I find it interesting that the times I pointed out that he was not here seem to correspond to the times he was seen in the Bay Area.

I'll try this tomorrow, hoping that I'm kept up to date on the sightings in the bay area... (it) might work...

From: Tom
To: David Jensen
Sent: Monday, February 11, 2008 11:36 AM
Subject: Re: Reports of a second Laysan
Yes, Ross / Alice has been here every day the last week or two, but he has had some "gaps" esp. in the early AM and late afternoon that I would assume give him enough time to get down the coast... after all, from Point A to SF is not all that far 'as the albatross flys'... was there mention of what time of day he was seen?Peace,TomDate: Sun, 10 Feb 2008 23:49:26 -0000
From: Cindy Lieurance
Subject: [SFBirds] Re: Laysan Albatross
SFBirders -

At 05:06 AM 2/11/2008, you wrote:

Folks in San Francisco have been seeing a Laysan Albatross off the Golden Gate/Marin Headlands. It may be a different bird, or "ours" might be on the move. Did you happen to see Al in Point Arena on Friday or Sunday?

A few more details on the LAYSAN ALBATROSS sighting:

We went to the Sutro Baths upper terrace this morning (10 February 2008) figuring we might be lucky enough to see a few NORTHERN FULMARs. We did see a couple almost right away, flying at the horizon (both light morph birds.) A little before 10AM, Les said he saw a LAYSAN ALBATROSS soaring near a tanker ship that was headed into the bay, pretty much directly out beyond the big offshore rocks at the Cliff House. I found the bird immediately, and was able to follow it continuously for the next 10 or so minutes while Les phoned the BirdBox and notified Jill Hannah (sp?), the only other birder there, who was scoping close by. At first, the bird was just soaring around lazily, back and forth. After a few minutes it began heading more directly to Marin County - we thought it was going up toward Rodeo Lagoon. After another minute or two, it swept eastward toward the Marin Headland cliffs and along the S.F. Gate. It gained altitude and we watched it against the cliffs as it continued east; we eventually lost it when it went behind the cliff near us, but it sure appeared to be heading for the GG Bridge. We drove up to the GG Bridge visitor's center area (on the SF side) and scoped from there, but didn't see it. Next we went to Fort Point and walked up the stairs to the roof and scoped from there for 20 or 30 minutes. Still didn't see it again, although we did see a few more Northern Fulmars in much closer than earlier ones.
In addition to the blackish coloration of the dorsal wings which extended straight across the back, the extremely long thin wings which almost never flapped, the blackish intrusions from the leading edge of the ventral wings, thin black margins on both leading and trailing edges of the ventral wings, white head and tail, I could also see the dark eyeshadow and the pale pinkish bill.

Cindy & Les Lieurance
San Francisco CA U.S.A.
Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2008 16:32:24 EST
From: Subject: [SFBirds] Laysan Albatross

This morning at 9:10, a Laysan Albatross flew along the current line off of the Merrie Way terrace northward into Marin. I picked it up in my binos, recognized that the size and flight style were dramatic, and got the scope on it for possibly ten seconds before it vanished into the backwards moving fog issuing out from the Golden Gate.
In the scope I had decent dorsal and ventral views as the bird arced and banked in tubenose manner. Dorsally, the bird was dark gray-brown on the mantle and wings, and white on the head, neck and rump, with no notable dark feathering extending onto the rump. I was unable to see any dark tail band against the ocean, but going by the guides I have access to, Laysans have a rather narrow band anyway. Ventrally, the bird's body was white, as was the base color of the wings, with the exception of narrow leading and trailing black edges, black wingtips, and notable intrusions of black markings through much of the wing length. The gray was darker than even wymanii Western Gull, and the white was snowy. The proportions were clearly albatrossean, with immensely long, thin wings and a big body. The bird soared without a single flap, and no other birds flew near it for size comparison.
There was no wind other than occasional light breezes, and the sun was bright over much of the sea, not conditions that would lead me to expect any tubenose. Looking at Sibley, the bird appeared intermediate between the two ventral renderings he shows, somewhat more like the painting in Harrison. Following Harrison for comparison with other black and white albatrosses, other species show a much cleaner white underwing and/or a wide dark leading edge, and I haven't checked other sources yet. By season, it should be a Laysan.
Other sightings included 4 American Wigeons on the ocean, 2 White-winged Scoters, 1 Black Scoter, and two flyby Marbled Murrelets.
Brian Fitch

2_8_2008 Al / Alice / Ross the Albatross update   Our fine feathered friend has continued his stay @ the cove; he comes in most days in the AM and leaves for the night as the sun sinks slowly in the west. Ross / Alice is making a whole lot of birders very happy again this year; we've had folks from all over the country coming to see him and add a Laysan Albatross to their Life List... very fun and very cool. Some ladies from Seattle, Ann Marie and her traveling companion Carol, are coming to town tomorrow, Saturday, in the hopes of spotting him... they should leave happy.

  Clarification: As Ann Marie, the lady from Seattle, and I were talking on the phone today she expressed surprise when I mentioned that the travel time from the Bay Area, either Oakland or San Francisco Airport to Point Arena is at least 3 to 4 hours... one good option is taking a flight into Santa Rosa airport, using the new commuter flights, Horizon Air, which come in from Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles.   If you start your journey from Santa Rosa you knock off the dreaded drive from either Oakland or SFO, which, depending on traffic can be 1 - 2 hours... it's a decent hour drive on River Road from Santa Rosa to Jenner, where you meet the Pacific, and from there it's 56 miles, about 1 hours to Point A, covering some of the most beautiful ocean views anywhere... so,  Bay Area to Point A = 3 - 4 Hours vis - a - vis Santa Rosa to Point A = 2 Hours

  Magnificent Frigatebird Update: From the San Francisco Chronicle web site,  AKA SFGate.com:

  >>>Text Starts - A big, gangly tropical bird that got blown way off course and ended up in a Healdsburg tree was successfully released on Catalina Island this week, happily ending an unusual Alice-in-Wonderland-type saga.

  This kind of warm-weather-loving bird, called a Magnificent Frigatebird, is rarely, if ever, seen in the Bay Area. Experts believe the feathered galoot with a hooked beak and wingspan topping 7 feet was blown by a hurricane-force Pacific storm. It traveled hundreds if not thousands of miles from its normal hunting grounds closer to the equator.

  >>>Text Continues on the SFGate.com web site Here

2_5_2008 Al / Alice / Ross the Albatross update   Quickie Note: Ross / Al is out there again today, a totally glorious day @ the cove... I'm starting to feel like a 'Greeter' for Wal Mart lately, since every time I see someone who looks like a birder (funny looking telescope, binoculars, intent look in the eyes, bee line to the pier) I ask if they are birders looking for an albatross, and just about every time the answer is a resounding "YES!!! Is he here?!!" It's really fun to see the happy look on everone's faces when they see him, sometimes after the second or third try... some nice folks from Great Britain today... and, as an aside, I can't believe I've had 'Albatross' mis-spelled 'Abatross' and never noticed it until today when it was picked up by a spell checker... too funny... Here are some new pics for you all... I was lucky enough to catch Al 'running' and taking off; he flew about 100 yards and came in for one of his patented crash landings, the good news being it appears that he is kicking strongly w/ both legs, which seemed to me not to be the case in the sequence I shot Dec 12, 2007. If you look closely @ the right edge of #32 you'll see that he is just taking off, inches from the water. The odd pic (33) is included just to show how close to shore he gets... the tiny wave is breaking on shore; he's about 8 - 10 feet out...

30  Getting ready...       31  Ross running      32  Flying!       33  Ross close to shore

34  a friendly greeting between two water lovers

2_4_2008 Al / Alice / Ross the Albatross update   As I guessed, this week is turning out to be a prime window of opportunity for spotting our favorite fryer; Ross/Rosa Al/Alice was there when I first checked the cove this AM and flew the coop sometime around 4:30PM (He disappeared as I was in my car after work reading).
Anyway, one of the true "Good Guys" I've come across of late is one Bob Keiffer, who is a serious birder, as well as being:

Robert J. Keiffer
Principal Supt. of Agriculture
UC Hopland Research & Extension Center

A while back (28 Nov 2007) Bob sent out this sked of Al's comings and goings... I thought it might be of interest for those of you who might not have it:

Here is a revised list of first reported arrival dates and last reported season's dates (assumed near departure) for the subsequent years:

???? to? 27 Feb 1994 (T.Easterla & J.Booker)
30 Nov 1994 to 27 March 1995 (report of two birds in synchronized courtship flight during this period)
5 Dec 1995 to 14 March 1996
3 Dec 1996 to 26 March 1997
27 Nov 1997 to 8 Mar 1998
12 Dec 1998 to 21 Mar 1999
4 Dec 1999 to 12 Feb 2000 with a "fly by the cove" on 2 April 2000 as observed by George Chaniot (possible same bird?)
26 Nov 2000 to 26 Feb 2001
28 Nov 2001 to 24 Mar 2002
21 Nov 2002 to 12 Mar 2003
25 Nov 2003 to 28 Feb 2004
28 Nov 2004 to 21 Feb 2005
26-30 Nov 2005 to 19 Mar 2006
25 Nov 2006 to 16 Mar 2007
26 Nov 2007 to "time will tell"

Good birding! Bob Keiffer   Please let me know of any further additions or corrections.

And here is today's pic for you, propos nothing:   Hey Pop!!! Feed us and give us money!!!

2_3_2008 Al / Alice / Ross the Albatross update   Our favorite albatross has won me over... completely... as soon as conditions improved weather-wise and ocean-wise this morning our buddy was back; I checked the cove this morning, the weather being not too bad but the ocean acting gnarly... the ol' washing machine action where Al likes to hang out... hence, no Al... I went back down to the cove @ 2:00PM and there he was, bobbing around, seemingly happy as can be.

There have been some wonderful folks out visiting, looking to add a Laysan Albatross to their Life List... and IMHO,  since the weather report looks pretty good, the next few days will present a great opportunity for anyone else who's interested to do the same...

Good Birding,
Point A

23  Ross has won me over                    24  Ross Plumage

2_1_2008 Al / Alice / Ross the Albatross update   He was not there and then he was... The weather was once again sketchy, but even more, there was a huge storm swell and the ocean was in turmoil, so Al was once again absent all day... I checked the cove in the late AM and later in the day after work, and there was no sign of him. Around 4PM the sun broke through and at some point soon thereafter Al showed up, bobbing around in his favorite spot... this has happened so many times; he's not there, you get busy taking pics of other activities, birds, surfers, the ocean, whatever, and then from the corner of your eye, there he is, preening and stretching, completely unconcerned w/ the trivial goings on of us mortals... trs cool. Lucky for the wonderful folks who came to the cove to take their chances of a siting; a nice couple from Eureka and a gentleman (Drew) and his wife all the way from Minnesota. I was kinda worried about the weather conditions for some other folks who are coming from Massachusetts but the latest from Accuweather sez that the weekend looks v. rainy but should clear up Monday and perhaps sunny into Tuesday... which bodes well for an Al siting.

1_30_2008 Al / Alice / Ross the Albatross update   The weather has calmed down a bit, and our favorite albatross is back at his favorite spot, bobbing around in the cove... I've received emails from several different people who are coming out to Point Arena speciffically to see Al, and add him to their list, so here's hoping that things stay calm around here.

1_28_2008 Al / Alice / Ross the Albatross update   The severe weather has evidentally kept our buddy away... the cove looks like a washing machine turned up to "Heavy Duty" swirling around and around... the south wind has been blowing so hard that the wind waves it has generated have been breaking south to north, while the swell has been breaking from the west, leading to some incredibly gnarly conditions.

I've received emails from several folks from as far away as Massachusetts, planning on coming up this next weekend... the rule of thumb around here (I just made it up) is that if you can plan on having viewing times on three different days your chances of seeing Al are very good. It's funny, in that when he's in town for his winter vacation, and the weather is not extreme, he's in just about the same spot every day, greeting the surfers on their way out to the break; sometimes they get so close they give him a pat on the beak, or a herring or french fry, for that matter. But when we have a heavy duty winter, the chances of his presence are not nearly as good... oh, well, it's a bit easier to take your chances getting to Point Arena to see Al / Ross than going to Midway Island, even if there are a few more of them there... the December 2007 National Geographic Mag has a wonderful artical on albatrosses, including several of their patented "How in the world did they do it!?" pictures...

On another note, a pelican was shot through its beak w/ an arrow down in Southern CA a few days ago... here's a link to the International Bird Rescue Research Center. The fear is that since the arrow went through both upper and lower beak the bird will starve...

Pelican w/ arrow through both upper and lower beaks   (Photo © Andrea Kirk)

1_24_2008 Al / Alice / Ross the Albatross update   He's B-A-C-K... just like Jack Nicholson in The Shining... OK, bad analogy or whatever... Al was MIA for a day or two, and I've been busy the same amount of time, but now the sun is shining, the children are singing, and the threatened recession is all but forgotten, because Ross the Albatross has returned!!! On a far different note, I was down @ Whiskey Shoals yesterday taking pics and saw these white long legged birds picking around the rocks... Egrets? Swans? Sorry for the quality of the pics, but I did not have a tele lens along... if you click on them to enlarge you'll most likely be able to tell what they are... common, I'm sure, but beautiful none the less... I realize that the full tilt rez pics will take a while to load (370K) for those of you like me who have dial-up connection, but it seems needed in this case...

20  Egrets, I think                    21  Egrets?

1_20_2008 Al / Alice / Ross the Albatross update   Well, that fickle fryer took another day off today, as of about 2:00PM... I had a party to photograph and a football game / crabfeeb to attend, so he might have appeared later in the afternoon... and, SHEESH!!! I got's to break this page up into something a bit more managable... I took the Google map out earlier today because of the slow to load issue, and the next task is to knuckle down and get this thing up to spec... and, who'd a thunk it... this birding thing is pretty darned fun...

1_19_2008 Al / Alice / Ross the Albatross update   Ross / Alice / Al took a powder today... too bad, as a few Birders came by to see him... I guess that's the chance Birders who drove here today took... I suppose it makes the sighting all the better when it finally happens... LOL,  What a crock...   I can almost hear some of you all say   "Sure thing, dork... you didn't have to drive all over God's creation to get here!"   Anyway, here are some of the birds pointed out to me today by the afore mentioned Birders as we were standing on the pier - Red Tail Hawks, a pair; 4 Oyster Pickers, a few Stone Turners(?), 2 mystery birds (to me... any help?) One might be a baby Sea Gull, which has been the object of discussion w/ some of us non-birders for years - where do adult Sea Gulls come from? we've never seen a baby!!! Perhaps this is the answer to the 64 question... moving on, what are the little birds in #17 & #16?

Well, here are some pics from today... and pls forgive if the page takes forever to load; I have shrunk the thumbnails as much as I can while you can still kinda figure out what they are about... *sigh* dial-up connections SUCK!!!

19  Red Tail Hawk                    18  4 Oyster Catchers

17  Oyster Catcher &  Friend                    16  is this a baby Sea Gull???

20  Very Clear Oyster Catcher Pic

1_18_2008 Al / Alice / Ross the Albatross update   Ross / Alice / Al was here again today, which makes about 13 of 14 days recently... he was, however, floating about 75 yards N/NW of the pier which is quite a bit out of his usual range... couple that w/ the fog that came in around 1:00PM it was a bit difficult to see him. We'll have to wait and see what he and the weather bring us tomorrow...

1_17_2008 Al / Alice / Ross the Albatross & Magnificent Frigatebird update     Quickie update tonite: Al's here, in his usual location just to the north of the Arena Pier, greeting the surfers as they go out to catch a few waves.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat sez this re: the injured Magnificent Frigatebird:

Frigate bird recovering
The weak, emaciated frigate bird rescued from a tree near Healdsburg's Memorial Beach two weeks ago is recovering at the International Bird Rescue Research Center in Cordelia.
Battered by the storm that presumably blew it miles from the ocean, the exotic bird, tentatively identified as a juvenile Magnificent Frigatebird, is making "steady progress," said Karen Benzel, spokeswoman for the center.
Local birders were excited by the rescue of a species rarely seen in Northern California, a tropical seabird with long black wings, a hooked beak and white head and chest.
The frigate bird, named Florence by its rescuers, has been gaining weight and can now maintain its body temperature, Benzel said.
No date has been set for its return to the wild.
-- Guy Kovner

As an aside, the weather has been perfect the last two days; sunny and warm... of course that means nada for tomorrow :)  Also, this page is getting way too unwieldly (sp?) I've got to break down and sort it out over several pages... well, football is all but over, so I'll have some extra time on Sundays starting soon...

1_16_2008 Al / Alice / Ross the Abatross update     Whatever you call this magnificent bird, he/she has been around again today, Wednesday, Jan 16, 2008... so if'n you're considering coming on up to Point A,   Al will most likely be here... in the pic to his right are 2 Turkey Vultures cruising in for a landing... must be some carrion abouts... maybe a washed up abalone or two...

14  click to enlarge                    15  click to enlarge

1_15_2008 Al / Alice the Albatross update   Today was the first day in the last week or two that Al has not showed... this means nothing as far as this week-end goes, or tomorrow, for that matter... he's v. capricious, which makes me think he's a she :) As an aside, one of our wonderful local ladies who has spent many years living sometimes here, sometimes in Hawaii, took me to task for referring to the fryer as Al because she (and many others) has always called him Ross, as in Ross the Albatross. Also, I've re-upped pic #11 w/ a far better version of both the thumbnail and the full size image... I know that some of you have to suffer through the lame hair ripping boring sluggishness of a dial-up connection, but sometimes it's worth the wait if you really want to see what's up w/ Al... and I hate to bragg, but some of the full size pics are bitch'n... try #10, #11, and #3 fer instance... Al / Ross is a beautiful bird...

Here is a pic taken today, 1_15_2008, of a sea gull on the triangle rock w/ some of our 'contented cows' grazing on the bluffs   followed by a pic I took today, Jan 19, of a dare-devil cow grazing on the bluffs just a few hundred yards south; note the drop off (as a note of interest, I've heard of only one cow falling off the cliff in my 35+ years here)... as the story goes, a fisherman saw it happen, rowed over in his dingy, field stripped it, and rowed back to his boat w/ the good stuff, leaving the carcass to its own fate:

13  click to enlarge          14  click to enlarge

1_13_2008 Al / Alice the Albatross update = As has been his usual M.O. of late, Al has been hanging out just to the north of the pier... so today I decided to take a few pics to show you where to look for him in relation to the pier. In the pic on the right you can see his favorite spot in general, sometimes much closer to the shore, sometimes closer to the reef. The blur at the bottom of the long distance shot is the railing on the pier, and in the background is the shore, so you can see what a relatively small area is involved (that's Al, smack dab in the middle, w/ his head turned away... anyway, if he's there he's easy to spot. The other pic, #10 shows a view in which you can see his damaged right leg hanging down, sort of drifting along. The thing is, I don't know what an albatrosse's leg is supposed to look like in that situation... I left the clickable view larger than usual, 943K so you can see for yourself what it looks like... (Note: If you enlarge Pic #3 below you get a different look at the same thing.)

10  click to enlarge          12  click to enlarge

1_11_2008 Al / Alice the Abatross update = Al's been here at the Arena Cove every day this week, hanging out in his usual spot towards the far end of the pier, about 40 yards to the north... Here he is today, about 4:00PM:

11  click to enlarge

1_11_2008 Magnificent Frigatebird Rescue Update   Link to the Vallejo-Benicia-American Canyon Times-Herald ; story from the Cordelia International Bird Rescue Research Center:

>>>Saved from a tree in Healdsburg, a very rare Frigatebird is still in critical condition, but is showing signs of improvement at Cordelia's International Bird Rescue Research Center, officials said Tuesday.
Blown way off course in recent storms, the large bird is receiving 24-hour intensive care, said center community relations director Tom Rusert.
The Young Magnificent Frigatebird prefers warm ocean waters, and is rarely seen this far north.
The bird was likely blown into a tall pine tree at the Russian River Bridge, became entangled and was unable to free itself, center officials said. A 40-foot ladder was needed, and Santa Rosa Bird Rescue assisted with saving the bird.
The bird is not in good shape and may not make it.
"It probably got caught up in the storms and spent a long time struggling. The winds swept it out of its range of where it should be," said center public relations director Karen Benzel.
The bird came in with a very low temperature, nearly 10 degrees below normal, and was "very cold and thin," she said.
However, the bird is showing some promising signs - its temperature has increased a few degrees and it tried to eat some fish on its own Tuesday afternoon, she said.
The bird is being tube fed with a fish slurry mixed with nutritional supplements, Rusert said. Rescuers Dana and John Maber named the bird Florence, Benzel said. The Frigatebird has a wingspan of 8 feet and is slightly larger than a pelican or bald eagle.<<<

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1_10_2008 Note re: Miner Hole Road - Somewhere along the line I advised folks to try driving out Miner Hole Road, which is about 1/4 mile north of Lighthouse Road on Hwy 1... I drove out there this afternoon and discovered that the latest blow, over the weekend had caused enough damage to the road, which I forgot to mention is un-paved, that you should not try unless you have an appropriate vehicle... my tiny Toyota bottomed out several times and since there are only sporadic turnaround spots, I was forced to back out approx way farther than was good for my neck :)

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1_09_2008 Magnificent Frigatebird Rescue Link on this page, below.

1_09_2008 A few people have been wondering what's up w/ Al vis-a-vis the gnarly weather... it seems as if the weather is too funky for humans, it's too funky for him... I don't have any real idea where he goes during the storms, but as soon as things clear up even a little bit, he's back... like today, Wednesday and yesterday, after a weekend of tremendous storms... even though the ocean is still swirling like a washing machine in the cove, and the skys are grey and rainy, no problema for Al, or for anyone who wishes to see him... he's bobbing around out there, w/ his beak tucked under his wing...

As the afternoon progressed, the ocean has calmed down quite a bit... here's a link to the AccuWeather Point Arena Weather Forecast...

PS   Al has been hanging out 20 - 50 yards from the north side of the pier just about every day. Rumor has it that he/she has a spot a mile or so up the coast off the recently opened Stornetta property south of the lighthouse in a tiny protected cove during the worst of the storms.

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Also note, the much dissed story of a Magnificent Frigatebird sighting turned out to be true
For the story, go here:
Santa Rosa Press Democrat
The bird is now in the Cordelian International Bird Rescue Research Center

PS In case you're having trouble logging on to the Press Demo story, here's the text:


A storm-tossed frigate bird rescued from a tree in Healdsburg during last weekend's rainstorm was in critical condition Tuesday at the International Bird Rescue Research Center in Cordelia.
Tentatively identified as a juvenile Magnificent Frigatebird, a tropical species rarely seen in Northern California, the seabird was cold and emaciated when rescuers prodded it from a pine tree near Memorial Beach on Saturday afternoon.
"I thought I had seen a fairy tale," said Mela Brasset of Healdsburg, a volunteer with the Bird Rescue Center in Santa Rosa who retrieved the exotic bird that has long black wings, a hooked beak and white head and chest.
An adult of the species is typically about 40 inches long with a wingspan exceeding seven feet.
Healdsburg Animal Control officers and a window washer, Richard Martinez, who supplied a tall ladder, assisted in the unusual rescue in pouring rain.
No one knows how the frigate bird got there, but experts assume it was caught in strong winds and blown into the tree, where it appeared to be trapped.
"You could tell it was in trouble," Brasset said. "It was basically up there dying."
Brasset ferried the bird to the Santa Rosa center, and within an hour it was on its way to the Cordelia facility. Still under intensive care on Tuesday, the bird was receiving fluids, nutrients and antibiotics from an intravenous tube, said Karen Benzel of the research center.
The center, which treated hundreds of avian victims from the San Francisco Bay oil spill in December, is now caring for more than 100 storm-injured birds -- including grebes, murres and fulmars -- recovered from Monterey to Sonoma County.
Jay Holcomb, research center director, said the frigate bird was the first of its species to be treated there in its 37-year history.
If the bird recovers it will be transferred to the Bird Rescue Research Center in Los Angeles and released into the wild, Benzel said.

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12_25_2007 Greetings everyone... here are some pics of everyone's favorite Laysan Albatross, Al / Alice, who comes to the Point Arena Cove every winter. I have a 7 photo high res sequence of Al running and taking off that I'm thinking about burning to CD, along w/ some other pics that show him in all of her splendor (sorry for the tortured syntax / grammar...)

Anyway, enjoy the pics, and I'll post some more in a few days. Al and I are neighbors of a sort; we live 1 mile apart every winter...

Tom Reid
Point Arena, CA

PS Many thanks to Bob Keiffer for his advice, encouragement, etc.
Principal Supt. of Agriculture
UC Davis Hopland Research & Extension Center

Ross / Al running for take-off            7 Al / Ross stretching

Click on any of these thumbnails for a larger view.

1 Lookin' good            2 Looking me right in the eye

3 damaged leg 12_29_2007
Please note dangling leg; comments?

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