Whales!

November 20, 2018 at 4:05 pm (Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography)

Humpback whale diving. Notice the barnacles and what looks like kelp growing on the tail!

My friend from Maine and I went on a whale watch tour with Monterey Bay Whale Watch, Nov. 13. We saw several humpback whales and a pod of orcas (killer whales.)

A closer view

Although I lived in Tacoma, Washington for 18 years, I had never seen orcas. So this was a new experience for me.

Baby orca

There was a small baby in the group, which I got a somewhat decent photograph of.

Four adult orcas and one baby.

At one point a humpback whale breached about a half mile away. It was an amazing sight as it jumped high in the air and came down with a splash. Too far away to photograph, though. I would have loved to seen it closer.

This was a very large orca.
Sometimes there are several boats when whales are spotted. The word gets out.
This is the best view I got of the baby with what I think is its mom.

We also saw quite a few Risso’s dolphins.

“Like a battered boxer, the bulky, blunt-headed Risso’s dolphin bears lots of scars. Its Latin species name griseus refers to the skin’s ghostly gray-white mottling—an effect enhanced with age by extensive scarring made by the teeth of its own kind or by the beaks and tentacles of squid, its preferred prey.” — Monterey Bay Aquarium

Another humpback tail during a dive

We saw a few good birds, too.

Common Murre in nonbreeding plumage
Brandt’s cormorant
California sea lions at the harbor entrance. Their barking can be heard from quite a distance.

The morning was hazy in part from the Camp Wildfire north of Sacramento. It provided soft light, which helped with detail. It also gave a bit of a mood to the landscape.

Point Pinos Lighthouse, Pacific Grove, seen from Monterey Bay.

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

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Hi Mountain Lookout

October 15, 2018 at 7:27 pm (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Uncategorized, Wildlife)

Cinnamon-colored American Black Bears
When I found out from the Morro Coast Audubon Society that the Hi Mountain Condor Lookout was having an open house, I cut my Eastern Sierras trip short and drove home so I could learn about the work being done to save California condors from extinction.

Although the condors aren’t often seen there, a cliff that was last used for nesting in 1969 is nearby and there is hope that the increasing wild populations will rediscover it.

However, one of the Hi Mountain volunteers gave an amazing presentation on the extreme efforts to save this magnificent scavenger, and how so many of them die from lead poisoning from eating animals shot with lead bullets and buckshot. We were led on a bird walk and a plant walk during the day, and I hung out by the feeders where the bird bath was to capture the morning visitors. The band-tailed pigeon was a life bird for me. Unfortunately, I missed capturing its band-tail spread out because I was returning from the outhouse sans camera! The sage thrasher is a rarity and was duly reported by one of the other birders. We all agreed the bears were the “best bird” of the morning!
There was a potluck dinner and an evening program, and you could camp up top if you wanted. I wanted. A wrentit found yummies (or water droplets) in a faucet.
California Thrasher
A California thrasher joined the hermit thrushes, juncos, and sparrows at the bird bath. Dawn was amazing, even though there was a cottony blanket of “marine layer” below.
Bird sentinel
Island in the Sky
This was the 17th annual open house. If you do it next year, be aware–the 6 mile road is very rocky.
Lopez Lake

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

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Summer Fog

September 18, 2018 at 5:00 am (California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography)

A “marine layer” of fog along the coast

Paso Robles is always the HOTTEST town in the Central Coast in summer. It can be 106 in Paso and 66 degrees 20 miles away on the coast. Consistently.

View from Highway 46 between Paso Robles and Cambria

The coast is often hugged by a layer of marine air (fog), and one morning in mid-August I saw its moody magic from my favorite viewpoint.

As usual, it was a cloudless sky in Paso. But once down on the coast, it was a fairly thin fog, with muted sun popping in and out. It made for some great bird photography with bright, even light.

Mt. Hollister

Mt. Hollister is a jagged peak that looks wilder and out-of-place in this land of gentle golden hills. Normally Morro Rock would be visible, too.

From Morro Bay’s sea otters and mound-shaped rock and birding spots, to San Simeon and its elk herds, Hearst Castle’s zebras, the elephant seals, and open views of the coast, this is by far my favorite part of the California coast.

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

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Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

September 16, 2018 at 1:23 pm (Bird photography, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife)

May 2011

I have several GB of images I’ve never gotten around to editing. I found this folder while looking for another old file, and decided to edit it. Unfortunately these were taken with the Nikon D80 and the sharpness is not good. They look fine on the web, though.

This visit was in early May, 2011 when birds were in their finest breeding plumage.

The four grebe species I saw there are above. The Western looks similar to the Clark’s but the black covers the eyes.

There is a phenomenon called “midges” this time of year that greatly interferes with photography. They are basically harmless mosquitoes – they don’t bite or suck blood, but they emerge in clouds.

This is one of those places where you can do most of your bird photography right from the car. As I get older, those places are more important for me.

Go give it a try, you may discover things WordPress can already add into your posts that you didn’t know about. Here’s a short list of what you can currently find there:


Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

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Tule Elk at Their Finest

September 15, 2018 at 2:48 pm (California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Video, Wildlife) (, , )

The biggest herd of elk I’ve ever seen under control of one alpha male was along the Pacific Coast Highway just north of San Simeon, California the first week of September. He ruled over 35 cows and half-grown calves, with 10 other bulls – some with huge racks – grazed peacefully. One scrawny male challenged him while I was there. Take a look.

The first part of the video was in mid-afternoon, so the heat waves interfered with the quality. But I returned an hour before sunset for the best light, and they were closer to the road. A few horses even joined them in grazing.

He spent a lot of time rounding up his harem in a fairly tight bunch, so no interloper could snatch them away.

The testosterone keeps the bulls pretty wound up, and he made a few mating attempts with a cow who seemed receptive. It seems the females also mount the males as well, which could be a sign of affection and desire. Watch the video if you don’t believe me.

A few days later I found a smaller herd that frequents an area in Jolon, near Fort Hunter Liggett. This bull had just chased off a rival.

His cows were in the shade under a grove of oaks, standing on their hind legs to pull down the oak lichen, which apparently was a delicacy.

I returned to the area in the early evening and found them a couple of miles away.

The bull seemed exhausted and had a slight limp. Maybe the rigors of mating and fighting were wearing him down.

The cows moved out when they saw me, with their lord and master bringing up the rear.

They would stop periodically to look back, as if awaiting further guidance.

They moseyed along.

The Tule Elk is the smallest of the three sub-species of elk found in California.

To see a herd like this one in April, when the bull was just regrowing his anglers, see my earlier blog post.

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

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Mission San Miguel – Birds

September 1, 2018 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography) (, )

Cliff Swallow

This is the 4th in a series of photographs of Mission San Miguel, California.

Cliff swallow

Oak titmouse

House sparrows

Eurasian collared dove

Eurasian collared dove

House sparrows

House finch male

Male house sparrow

House sparrow

American robin

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

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Mission San Miguel – Crosses

August 31, 2018 at 5:00 am (California, California Central Coast, Photography) ()

Mission San Miguel, California

This is the third in a series of photographs of Mission San Miguel, California.

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

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Mission San Miguel – Doors and Patterns

August 30, 2018 at 5:00 am (California, California Central Coast, Photography) (, )

Mission San Miguel, California

This is part 2 of a series of photographs of Mission San Miguel, in San Miguel, California.

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

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Mission San Miguel – Architecture

August 29, 2018 at 3:29 pm (California, California Central Coast, Photography) (, )

Mission San Miguel, California

I spent one morning exploring Mission San Miguel in San Miguel, California, just off Hwy 101. That’s the highway dotted with shepherd’s crook bells to mark the mission road, since most of the 21 Spanish missions built in the 1700s and 1800s were in the general vicinity.

Mission San Miguel, California

The mission still holds Mass on Sunday mornings, so I waited until it was over before I went inside. From what I understand, much of the organic paint decor on the walls is original.

Mission San Miguel, California

The altar is incredibly ornate for a California mission, and a description of the symbols is on hand to explain their meaning and significance.

Mission San Miguel, California

I’m going to share my morning in a series of posts, since there are sooooo many images, so I will just let you enjoy them with minimal commentary.

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel, California

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

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Birds of the Oaks

July 8, 2018 at 6:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife)

Acorn woodpecker female

Since I live in the Central Coast area of California, there are lots of oak trees, mostly blue oak, and there are some very nice stands of large valley oaks as well. The acorn woodpecker is extremely populous here, since there’s a plethora of acorns. You can see how striking they are with their black-and-white plumage topped with a red cap, and white eyes. Read the rest of this entry »

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