MCAS Field Trip Report - AUG 5 - Shorebird Habitat on Morro Strand

Who knew sand dollars could walk? 

Morro Coast Audubon's August 5th "Shorebird Habitat" field trip was most extraordinary. Held along the Morro Strand beach, we identified shorebirds and explored the wildly diverse source of their food. What brings them here?

The leaders Karen Watts and Robbie Revel began by describing the birds we would see and their very long migrations from breeding grounds. Most of these birds spend 9-10 months every year here on our coast because abundant rich food sources are found on rocks, in the sand, or washed up kelp

Various seashore findings were on display such as sand dollars, sea stars, clams, crabs, and seaweed. On the beach so much was revealed and taught! Everything and anything we found had a story. Piles of washed up kelp were great places to find hidden marine animals, some hidden in the holdfasts and others tightly adhered to the blades. Some things that looked like seaweeds were actually animals.
[above photo by Robbie Revel]

I found a black rock with white designs. It had two shallow grooves that had been drilled out by a piddock clam an unknown number of years ago. Within the groove the color was white and felt hard as the rock. I figured it was a mineral deposit. Turns out it was a bryozoan, a name I had never heard before. It’s a marine animal!!! Magnified under a hand lens (we were all provided one) it looked like lacy scales. The other side of the rock had circular white spots. These spots were old attachment sites of barnacles. All this on a rock I would have otherwise passed over and not noticed. Needless to say my beach walks will never be the same again.[rock photos by Debbie Jo Bird]