Merced-San Luis Refuge System

December 17, 2019 at 6:50 pm (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Wildlife)

Snow geese coming in for the night

I had a few hours over the weekend of Dec. 7-8 and visited the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge complex, starting with the San Joaquin River NWR. Wasn’t able to get close to the noisy flocks of geese to see the Aleutian Cackling Geese, as the roads are off-limits.

San Joaquin River NWR

So I went to the San Luis NWR – the light was amazing but didn’t get as close to the birds as I had hoped.

San Luis NWR, late afternoon

I did see a pair of juvenile tundra swans.

Tundra swan juvenile

I got to the Merced NWR just as the sun tinted the dramatic cumulus clouds building over the distant Sierras. Really really really wanted the sandhill cranes silhouetted against them, but they came in long after the color had drained from the sky. I did get some snow geese, though.

A clear night

The next morning was foggy and drizzly. Which is what the weather usually is when I visit. I always choose the wrong time.

Sandhill cranes

The sandhill cranes had mostly left before dawn, and this small flock didn’t linger too long either. Not sure which fields they went to for grazing, but I didn’t have time to go look for them either.

Sandhill Cranes

I drove around the auto tour road about three times, each time seeing something different.

Northern harrier
White pelicans

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

Feel free to reblog or share


Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

Join my Facebook Page

Contact:  cindy at

Permalink 3 Comments

California Condors

November 10, 2019 at 3:10 pm (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) ()

California Condor – Orange 77

I have seen California Condors, mostly from a distance, though I did see some juveniles close enough to read their wing tags about five years ago at Pinnacles National Monument.

Purple 54 and Orange 20

But on Nov. 9, 2019 I was fortunate to go on our tour of the Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Southern California where I saw approximately 8 free-flying and 14 captive condors in the flight pen.

Orange 77

According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife 2016 report on the California Condor Recovery Program, the total world population of condors is 446, with 166 wild in California, 76 in Arizona/Utah, and 34 in Baja, Mexico.

Blue 28

Of the California population, there are a total of 82 in Southern California (2017 report) and 86 in Central California.

Black 40

Many in the flight pen were captive-raised and were to be released after learning from the older mentor bird how to interact, feed and fly. Some were trapped for medical checkups.

Pink 64 juvenile and a raven at flight pen

The wild birds are often at the pen, either waiting for their mates to be released, or perhaps as support or out of curiosity.

We met a few miles from the refuge entrance and were escorted to the bunkhouse where we carpooled to two observation points. The first one (above) had a view of the flight pen.

Flight pen

We were told that the condors generally become active around mid-morning when the thermals are stronger. Since they are also curious, they flew close to us to check us out.

Unfortunately they were against the light, so their coloration isn’t as clear.

Orange 77
Orange 20

Soaring against the expansive hills was a majestic sight.

Blue 28

We had lunch and then visited a hillside opposite of the first one. The light was much better, but the birds kept their distance. I wish our first visit had been to this side instead when the birds were more curious.

Flight pen.

Juvenile condors have black/gray heads, and attain their full adult coloration of white-underside wings and red heads around age six.

I drove home through one of my favorite places – Carrizo Plain National Monument. After six or seven months without rain, it was barren, a sharp contrast to the lushness of the flower-covered landscape in late winter.

Carrizo Plain- Elkhorn Hills backdropped by Temblor Range

There were hundreds of antelope squirrel holes, and I looked for burrowing owls but without success. I did catch two of the San Joaquin antelope squirrels, a species considered threatened in California.

San Joaquin Antelope Squirrel
San Joaquin Antelope Squirrel

There were very few birds actively foraging. I saw some white-crowned and lark sparrows at the southern end at a spring in an old farm yard, a flock of sagebrush sparrows and horned larks, and a single red-tailed hawk.

Red-tailed hawk

There were more birds at the northern end, but by then I was rushing to get home by dark.

It was an exceptional day, and an amazing condor experience. Thanks to our tour guides for giving us this opportunity. Check out the Bitter Creek NWR website to join a future tour.

For more information on the California Condor:

Defenders of Wildlife

California Dept of Fish & Wildlife

US Fish & Wildlife

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

Feel free to reblog or share


Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

Join my Facebook Page

Contact:  cindy at

Permalink 3 Comments

Critters of Jolon

October 21, 2019 at 10:24 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Monterey County, Nature, Nature photography, Photography) (, )

Tule elk

When I drive to work (as opposed to taking the bus or vanpool) I try to swing by some areas reliable for spotting elk or cool birds. I don’t always see the elk in their usual spots, but sometimes I get lucky.

This herd enjoyed a cooling rest stop in the marsh, which accounts for why their bottom parts are dark colored.

Late in the day they are backlit, which makes photography more challenging

I went in the morning last week, when the light was good, but the bull was nowhere to be seen.

The late-season calf is getting bigger.

The watering hole also attracted mule deer and wild turkeys.

Of course, birds are great subjects, too.

Yellow-billed magpie

The yellow-billed magpie has eluded me with perfect portrait poses or lighting. This one was pretty close, though.

Yellow-billed magpie

Even thought it was late October, the male red-winged blackbirds seemed to be trying to impress the ladies. Or maybe just each other.

A great egret (I still call them American egrets) is often seen in the area.

A kestrel and acorn woodpecker vied for the same pole.

I’ve visited this area many times in the two years I’ve lived here, and there is almost always something interesting to photograph.

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

Feel free to reblog or share


Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

Join my Facebook Page

Contact:  cindy at

Permalink 1 Comment


September 23, 2019 at 4:55 am (fine art photography) (, )

When I saw the photo of the Museum at Prairiefire in Overland Park, Kansas in the tourist book at the Marriott, I knew I had to visit. The dichroic glass, the extra-vibrant colors, the patterns – it was all so absolutely enticing. I never made it inside the museum, though, since I arrived near closing time, but it was the exterior I was in love with. It was designed to simulate the natural prairie fires that kept prairies healthy. Sadly, very little of the original prairie is left in America. I walked all the way around the museum, and here is my collage.

Read the rest of this entry »

Permalink 2 Comments

RIP Two Venerable Seattle Icons

September 22, 2019 at 5:25 pm (Seattle)

Seattle, WA Cityscape from Bremerton Ferry

I lived 18 years in Tacoma, Washington, and I travel back to the area every few years to visit family. I’m amazed at the massive increase in population and cost of living there, especially in Seattle. It’s been strange seeing the Kingdome replaced awhile back, and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge with two spans. Now the Alaskan Way Viaduct is being torn apart as the tunnel replacing it is nearing completion. RIP Viaduct.

Read the rest of this entry »

Permalink 2 Comments

Kansas City Zoo

September 22, 2019 at 3:54 pm (Bird photography, Butterflies, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Uncategorized, Zoos)

Lorikeet at Kansas City Zoo

Wow. I’ve let three months go by without a single blog post. It’s been a busy summer. Gone visiting family in Seattle, and mandatory training in Kansas City. Then catching up, lounging around, binge-watching TV shows and movies. So these next posts will be light on text as I catch up on my adventures.

Read the rest of this entry »

Permalink Leave a Comment

Monterey County Wildflowers

June 12, 2019 at 5:00 am (California, California Central Coast, California wildflowers, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildflowers) (, )

Harlequin lupine, Lupinus stiversii

We have had six months of pleasantly cool weather with plenty of moisture in California this year, and the Memorial Day weekend was a perfect time to look for tiny treasures in the Los Padres National Forest and environs of southern Monterey County.

The harlequin lupine (above) was perhaps one of the most interesting flowers I found, and it was only in a small patch of ground. They aren’t rare, but I guess they’re also not common.

Read the rest of this entry »

Permalink 2 Comments

Pinnacles National Park – Wildflowers Second Wave

June 2, 2019 at 11:00 am (California, California Central Coast, California wildflowers, National Parks, Nature, Nature photography, Wildflowers) ()

Elegant clarkia (Clarkia unguiculata)

The first wave of wildflowers at Pinnacles National Park has gone by, and the second wave is going strong even though the grass has now turned brown and gone to seed.

California buckwheat

The California buckwheat was beginning to bloom, and this head was the nicest of the bunch.

Read the rest of this entry »

Permalink 2 Comments

Coyote Lake Spring

May 19, 2019 at 1:49 pm (California, California wildflowers, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildflowers) (, )

Coyote Lake at sunset

I had an assignment in the Bay Area and on the way home I wanted to explore Henry W. Coe State Park. Unfortunately the annual backcountry weekend was limited to only a few hundred permit holders, and I didn’t realize a permit was needed even just to drive through, so I looked for somewhere else to play.

I passed by an artichoke field in San Martin. I love artichokes! (With butter, not mayo)

Read the rest of this entry »

Permalink 3 Comments

Malibu Wildflowers

May 12, 2019 at 2:59 pm (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California wildflowers, Nature, Nature photography, Wildflowers)

Phacelia grandiflora

The Woolsey Fire devastated the hillsides of Malibu last year, but fires bring out wildflowers, and the hillsides in and around Newton Canyon were filled with the lovely Phacelia grandiflora, painting the hills a lovely purple.

Site of Woolsey Fire several months ago

Fires release minerals back into the soil, and often in the Spring after a fire the area is lush with greenery and flowers. Some flowers, such as the fire poppy, only bloom after the heat of the flames awaken the seeds. I was not lucky enough to see any of those.

Cardinal catchfly, Silene laciniata
Read the rest of this entry »

Permalink Leave a Comment

Next page »