A Visit to Moss Landing

Myself, and a photographer friend have gone over to Moss Landing a couple of times in the last few weeks in lieu of going further south to capture an annual solar phenomenon in Big Sur. The fog has rolled in diffusing or  blocking the sunlight needed to see it so, we switched to plan B which was to head to Moss Landing for some birding. Many species of ducks and water fowl are migrating from the north and I am near the Pacific Fly-way which is the migration route. Moss Landing is a stop for some of those birds.

Moss Landing, California located north-northeast  of Monterey, CA is little fishing village which started out as a wharf in 1895.  Today it’s still a small town with a population of 204. Its most notable landmark is the Moss Landing Power Plant. A natural gas plant whose tall smoke stacks are visible from Santa Cruz to the north, and Monterey, to the south on clear days*.

This once busy whaling port is still a busy place with over 600 berths, over 300 fishing boats, and hundreds of pleasure craft in the Marina*.  Kayaking, fishing, bird watching, and day trips to the State beach are some of the activities available in Moss Landing.

There are lots of antique vendors, and I can totally recommend the pontoon boat tour of Elkhorn Slough. Yohn Gideon the owner of the boat knew all sorts of interesting facts about the shore birds, otters, the Slough, and he’s funny!

I’ve been able to scratch off one bird from my “I want to photograph those!” list. The female Bufflehead. They are the smallest duck, and so cute! A couple of males flew in over the week, but they were being shy and stayed on the farthest side of the slough so I haven’t got a good photograph of the male yet.

Here’s a Willet in Winter plumage looking very serious.

There is quite a large population of Sea Otters in the Slough. They are cutest when they’re dry I think, but they are always entertaining to watch. This one was busy finding and eating food.

I’ve captioned this one, ” I could use a toothpick” Look at the size of that canine!

The Marbled Godwit is a winter visitor here, and the afternoon light was lovely on this one.

There is a coterie of Spotted Sandpipers. I just learned they lose their spots in the winter.

…and the usual characters one finds hanging around the Slough; The Brown Pelican. Here is one now flying  low, under the radar.

After all this birding you’re sure to get hungry then head to the Moss Landing Café. Mark, owner/chef is not only a great chef he is very friendly, and a wonderful host. I’ve loved everything I’ve eaten there. Dinner is served Friday and Sat. evenings only, but he serves breakfast and lunch the rest the week.

My dinner last night: Stuffed Chicken Breast w/tomato sauce- it was a cream sauce, served on a bed of rice, and the side was a steamed local artichoke with a dollop of Bearnaise sauce. Dessert,  that I didn’t take a picture of was Berry Mango Cobbler with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and dollop of whipped cream. I was good and didn’t eat the whole thing. I started this dinner with a cup of white clam chowder. It was so good and seasoned to perfection! I was stuffed when I left.

Fortunately the solar phenomenon I’ve been trying to photograph takes place over the course of several weeks so I have time to try it again, but if the fog rolls in the next time I go down there to shoot it, I wouldn’t mind making Moss Landing Plan B again.

*  facts gleaned from wikipedia

All Photographs are Copyright © 2011 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

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