Del Norte's coast is a great venue for migrating shorebirds

Gary Bloomfield, Sue Calla and several other birders were transfixed by a flock of semi-palmated plovers at the mouth of Elk Creek on Sunday - until an osprey stole the show.

The bird of prey snagged a fish in his talons and chowed down in the middle of the estuary. When he finished his meal, the osprey, much to the delight of his audience, dunked his head in the water twice before flying off.

"It's such a treat to see an osprey on the ground," one birder said.

Bloomfield, publicity co-chair for the Redwood Region Audubon Society, led a tour of the best places in Del Norte County to spot migrant shorebirds. The group started at Crescent City Harbor and ended at Alexandre Dairy's farm on the Smith River bottoms.

The tour is part of a series of summer activities and nature programs sponsored by the Redwood Parks Association.

The tour brought seasoned birders and novices together. Bloomfield pointed out various birds currently passing throughDel Norte on their way north or south. He also talked about using smart phone applications to identify birds and special hardware, called a digiscope, designed to get close-up photos of the birds using a spotting scope.

"The digiscope has drawn a lot of photographers who are interested in birds," he said. "It has also gone the other way by making photography easier for birders."

Bloomfield showed folks a digiscope he had purchased through Apple as well as a homemade one he constructed himself.

"It brings in the younger generation too," said Sue Calla, program coordinator for the Redwood Parks Association.

Janice Gober of Brookings said she became interested in birds as a photography pursuit and was hoping to get some ideas to take back to her 4-H group, which offers classes in photography.

"I'm up to oystercatcher," she said. "It's wonderful to get ideas and learn."

Crescent City resident Carole Cink said she heard about the trip after going on the Redwood Parks Association's bug walk and butterfly walk.

"Pelicans are my favorite," she said, watching a squadron of them fly in formation. "I've been a novice admirer of them since grade school when I had to study birds."

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