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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.)
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
One of my favorite birds from the CBC in Victorville this weekend was the bushtit. I’d only seen this chubby little bird once, in Big Bend National Park, Texas, but it was cold and foggy and they didn’t stay long. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve participated in Christmas Bird Counts in Friendship, Maine; Big Bend National Park, Texas, and Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. Here in Southern California, there are opportunities to join many more groups for this annual census of the birds. On Saturday I explored a country-club development and an adjacent community college in nearby Victorville. Read the rest of this entry »
Birds seen on a field trip with San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society and on the Morongo Valley Christmas Bird Count. (Not including ones already featured in recent blogs.) Read the rest of this entry »
The male Costa’s hummingbird also has a violet crown. This little beauty was seen sitting on a blooming bladderpod bush in California’s Morongo Valley last week.
He was the second Costa’s seen on the Christmas Bird Count. Since the first was at a bladderpod, when I saw another in bloom I hunted for another flying jewel. Read the rest of this entry »