Morro Bay, perched midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, is a sleepy fishing village, popular with city folk looking to get away from it all. But each winter, the place is overtaken by a rumpus of life.

Located along the north-south Pacific Flyway, Morro Bay is among the country’s most important bird areas.

Between November and February, up to 20,000 shorebirds congregate on its tidally exposed mudflats. Brant geese from the arctic, pelicans from the Canadian prairie, and waterfowl from inland lakes flock to the area’s unique blending of estuary, bay, and open ocean.

A great blue heron took flight at Morro Bay.

Marcie Begleiter

"There’s lots of habitat, I think that’s basically what it boils down to," said Kaaren Perry, an educator with the Morro Coast Audubon Society. "Here we just have a tremendous amount of rich habitat for exploration."

Hundreds of humans arrive from faraway places as well to witness the tableau, a migration that culminates in mid-January during the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival. Visitors can spot dozens of bird species in a single afternoon.

Marcie Begleiter, a photographer based on the Central Coast, has captured some gorgeous shots of the area’s bird life. She shared a selection with the California Sun.

A snowy plover on the beach at Morro Bay.

Marcie Begleiter

A California brown pelican took flight.

Marcie Begleiter

A juvenile great horned owl.

Marcie Begleiter

Sanderlings swept across the beach at Morro Bay.

Marcie Begleiter

A red-winged blackbird.

Marcie Begleiter

A great egret.

Marcie Begleiter

A brown pelican went in for a clumsy landing.

Marcie Begleiter

An osprey flaunted its wings.

Marcie Begleiter

A song sparrow let out a tune.

Marcie Begleiter

A line of cormorants meandered with Morro Rock in the distance.

Marcie Begleiter

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