How close can you get to a Sea Otter?

Mom and pup
Real close, but shot with a 400mm lens from over 100 ft.

This is a question that Docents at Point Lobos deal with all the time. We have to evaluate the situation and make suggestions as best we can. As near as I can tell the Marine Mammals Act says that you can’t intentionally disturb a marine mammal, but does not give specifics on distances or activities.

We have guidelines that say you can’t be within 50 ft of one or 150 ft of a mother and pup. I haven’t found the origins of these guidelines, but they seem reasonable.

And yet, you can be 30 ft away and not disturbing the otter at all or be 200 ft away and talking in a loud voice that obviously disturbs them. For me if I am taking a shot and the otter looks at me, I am too close. It is time to back away quietly.

Otter mom and pup
If the otter responds to your shutter, you are too close, back away.

Two new birds

Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Pacific-slope Flycatcher

I recently got shots of two “new” birds. I say that because I have probably seen them before, but just never taken the the time to ID them. There are lots of little grayish-brown birds that reside in this group. But as I try to learn more of the birds around Point Lobos, I find that I need to spend some extra time to get these IDs.

So I present the Pacific-slope Flycatcher, a bird that I list as heard more than seen. And true to that listing, I hear them all the time in the Reserve, but have only seen them twice. Fortunately a pair has been nesting near the Reserve entrance and allowed me to get this shot.

 Western Wood-Pewee
Western Wood-Pewee

The second bird was a bit harder to ID because it was flitting about in the top of a big sycamore tree. It was showing obvious flycatcher behavior, so managed to stay at the limits of my auto-focus and move every time the focus got close. I took over 50 shots and and spent 20 minutes on this one bird.

And after all of that, I still didn’t have a no-doubt-about-it shot. So I went through all of my shots, what I could remember of the call, the likely suspects and came up with a Western Wood-Pewee.