Bighorn Sheep at Anza-Borrego

March 20, 2015 at 6:38 am (California, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) (, , , )

 

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The highlight of my trip to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park last month was seeing newborn desert bighorn sheep with their mamas on the Borrego Palms trail.

Desert-bighorn-ewes-and-lambs,-Anza-Borrego-CA-(54)-copyThey scurried up steep rocks and knife edges as if they had been doing it for years.

Desert-bighorn-ewes-and-lambs,-Anza-Borrego-CA-(44)-copy-2We first saw them high up, and you can see one of the ewes has a red tracking collar.

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The juxtaposition of a jet and the sheep was strange.

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We took the alternate route back, but unfortunately that was when the sheep chose to come down to the main trail.  I saw the awed hikers and cursed our poor decision.  (However there were more wildflowers on that trail.)  We found a shortcut (eventually) back to the main trail, but by then the sheep were headed back up.

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Desert-bighorn-ewes-and-lambs,-Anza-Borrego-CA-(25)-copyThese youngsters made up for not seeing rams.  Next time…!

 

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

These images available for purchase here

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A Blinding Blanket of Wildflowers

March 15, 2015 at 3:31 pm (California, Nature, Photography, Wildflowers) (, , , )

California poppies and goldfields, Lancaster, Calif.

California poppies and goldfields, Lancaster, Calif.

I’ve always wanted to see the fields of poppies in California, especially paired with the famous oaks near the central coast. And even though I’ve seen spectacular fields of wildflowers in the subalpine meadows at Mt. Rainier and in the San Juans of Colorado, I was just agog at what I saw last week near Lancaster, California.

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As you can see, it looks like a literal blanket of both California poppies and the small daisy-like goldfields.  Obviously there was adequate rain this winter (it’s still winter for a few more days, actually.)

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I had a three-day weekend, and went to Death Valley first in search of color.  But true to its name, it was pretty much dead except for a few isolated patches.  So I headed to the famous Antelope Valley and the poppy reserve set aside to preserve the diminishing vast patches of these iconic flowers.

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Unfortunately, there is an abundance of invasive cheat grass, and few poppies compared to what lay outside the preserve.  Perhaps there will be more by now.  However, there was a field of the notch-leaved phacelia on one hillside.  With eight miles of trails to explore, I missed the patch of grape soda lupine which is supposed to smell like…grape soda.

Notch-leaved phacelia

Notch-leaved phacelia

I drove around this agricultural community in the lovely morning light, spotting orange and yellow seemingly spray-painted on the tops of hills bordering farmlands.

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I looked for a road to get close to these inviting patches of color, and found several.  They were narrow dirt roads, and for the entire morning I was pretty much the only person there.  Meeting anyone else on those roads would have meant squashing flowers to let them pass by.

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I first encountered the yellow blankets of goldfields and a Joshua tree forest.  The scene was electrifying, but further uphill were fields that left my mouth open in wonder.

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_D600007-copy-2One large patch was mixed poppy-goldfields, while another a few miles away had purple Davy gilia instead of yellow mingled with the poppies.  I had a full day drinking in this amazing beauty, and was pretty much “poppied out” by the time I had to drive home.

California poppies and Davey gilia

California poppies and Davey gilia

_D600142-copy-2For updates on wildflowers blooming this week, there are several websites:

Desert USA

Theodore Payne Foundation

And many of the national parks have weekly reports.

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Next week, hmmm… should I go south to Joshua Tree and Anza Borrego, or west to the emerald hills of central California and the coast?  The wildflowers are calling, and I must go…

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

These images available for purchase here

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Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com

 

 

 

 

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Salvation Mountain

March 1, 2015 at 11:10 am (California, fine art photography, Photography) (, , , , )

Salvation Mountain, Niland, CA

Salvation Mountain, Niland, CA

A psychedelic mountain rises from the desert on the east shore of California’s Salton Sea, a beacon to the lost and the joyous.  Vivid flowers and red hearts and lime green words abound.  One phrase repeats over and over again.  “God is Love.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Salton Sea Shore

March 1, 2015 at 3:07 am (California, fine art photography, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Sunrise in the palms, Mecca, Calif.

Sunrise in the palms, Mecca, Calif.

It’s not really a sea.  It’s a lake with a strange history.  You see, the Salton Sea was once a legitimate lake (a small portion of prehistoric Lake Cahuilla), but then it dried up thousands of years ago.  When a canal was built in the early 1900s to divert water from the nearby Colorado River to the Imperial Valley for crops, the engineers failed to take into account the fact that the river sometimes floods. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mountain Lion!

February 2, 2015 at 10:00 pm (California, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) (, , , )

Juvenile Mountain Lion

Juvenile Mountain Lion

I’ve worked at several national parks that had mountain lions, and try as I might, I never saw one.  Until yesterday at Montana de Oro State Park near Morro Bay, California.  This young cat had been seen a few minutes earlier by a jogger and some hikers who told me to look out for it.  I had my camera locked and loaded, visualizing the hoped-for encounter.

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When I heard a slight rustling in the shrubs alongside the trail, I stopped.  And then he appeared!  He sat right in front of me, blinking, as if he had been expecting me.  Then he figured he’d done his duty and returned to his nap spot.

He seemed large enough not to need his mother, which would have made me extremely nervous knowing she might pounce at any minute.

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From the side, he (or she) looks like an oversized orange tabby cat.

The lead photo has been retouched to remove the green glow that you normally see at night when a flash is used.  Oddly, the young lion’s pupils were apparently fairly wide open when he stepped into the bright sunlight, even though the sun was behind him.  If he had been napping, that would account for the dilated pupils, which allowed the sun to bounce to the back of the retina and reflect green.  I did not use a flash, so this was a very odd thing to see.  I just replaced the green glow with black and added a highlight in each eye to make it look as normal as possible.

Demon eyes

Demon eyes

I wish this young cat well.  I hope he learns to stay away from cars and people, and finds plenty of deer and squirrels to fill his belly.

Feel free to reblog or share

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

These photographs can be purchased here.

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Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com

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East Jesus and West Satan

January 22, 2015 at 1:02 pm (California) (, , )

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This might be a peculiarly California thing:  a squatter city in the desert.  If you like Funky Artsy Fartsy weirdness like I do, you will feel right at home in Slab City, just east of Niland on the Salton Sea.  (Warning:  bad words ahead.  Get over it.)

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I had heard about Slab City from co-workers who had been there.  Salvation Mountain, at the entrance to Slab City (see future blog post) is perhaps more famous, but you can see the influences of one upon the other. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hummingbird Ballet

January 21, 2015 at 10:42 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) (, , )

Male Anna's Hummingbird

Male Anna’s Hummingbird

Sometimes the mistakes turn out to be unexpected poetry.  The hummingbird blurs remind me of Ernst Haas’s work in “The Creation” – lovely and purposeful motion blurs of nature.  While I could invoke Pee-wee Herman who capsized his bicycle in “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure,” and say “I meant to do that,” the truth is I didn’t. Read the rest of this entry »

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Go Watch Birds! (And Watch Movies About Birds)

January 18, 2015 at 12:06 pm (Bird photography, Birds - California, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) (, , )

Male Buffleheads taking flight, Silverwood Lake

Male Buffleheads taking flight, Silverwood Lake

Walking around with binoculars and peering intently into trees or across a lake is sure to elicit strange looks.  Sometimes, though, people aren’t just making conversation when they ask, “See anything interesting?” Read the rest of this entry »

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A Good Birding Day

January 11, 2015 at 7:42 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) (, , )

Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk

All this time we thought we were looking at a rather pale red-tailed hawk.  Turns out it was a ferruginous!  Several, in fact. Read the rest of this entry »

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Christmas Bird Count – 29 Palms, California

December 31, 2014 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, National Parks, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) (, , , )

Indian Cove, Joshua Tree National Park

Indian Cove, Joshua Tree National Park

On Sunday I went to my third CBC in Southern California.  Bill and Herman live in the area of Joshua Tree National Monument and were familiar with the areas.  Like most birders, Bill checked places where he had seen such-and-such a bird before.  For years afterward, certain rocks or trees or areas will always be remembered as “the place I saw….” That’s the way we birders are. Read the rest of this entry »

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