Montana de Oro

June 30, 2020 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, California wildflowers, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, San Luis Obispo County, Wildflowers) (, )

Mountain of Gold

When I first came to California in 2015, I fell in love with Montana de Oro State Park. I was living in Apple Valley at the time and had a job that gave me a 3-day weekend twice a month, which I took full advantage of.

Now that I live much closer, I feel fortunate to live so near to the most beautiful part of the California coast.

Morro Rock

There are several easy trails in the park, and the one my friend and I took was a little ways before the campground. It seemed popular with surfers, who were also out early at the end of May during this Time of COVID.

Desert Christmas Tree, Pholisma arenarium

We are both into wildflowers and birds, in addition to beautiful landscapes, so our journey from the parking lot to the beach took a little time.

We didn’t see any snowy plovers here

We did see several other kinds of birds, though.

Wrentit in song

The overcast light helped tremendously by not filling our subjects with hot spots and deep shadows.

The Bluff Trail is everyone’s favorite, I think. It’s easy and it takes you to some marvelous overlooks.

The Point Bouchon Trail wasn’t open. As with most things COVID-19, we were lucky we had open spaces to wander safely, to help us keep our sanity.

Despite the bright overcast all morning, we both added some color to our skin from the relaxing and beautiful outing.

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre
Feel free to reblog or share
Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com
Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America
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Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com

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Eastern Sierras-Alabama Hills

June 26, 2020 at 7:35 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, Nature, Nature photography, Photography) (, , )

Arch Trail, Alabama Hills, Lone Pine

After more than six months of being “cooped up” due to a deteriorated hip joint, surgery to fix it, and COVID-19, my desire for a road trip was strong. I tried to convince my friend Marilyn, who had been with me since my surgery, to tag along enroute to her former job in Colorado (former because of the pandemic, sadly), but she opted to see the sequoias on the west side of the Sierras instead. So I was solo, and enjoying it immensely.

Alabama Hills

First stop was Fossil Falls just north of Ridgecrest. This was where I spent the night when the Falcon rocket blasted off in Sept. 2018 and filled the sky with light. I had no idea it would be visible from that far away, but it put on a stunning show, and I could even see the return of the reusable engine.

Cerro Gordo road

It was super windy the whole day, and I was anxious to explore new territory. I had read about the Cerro Gordo ghost town, but wasn’t sure I wanted to continue on the road once it got narrow and rutted at the viewpoint of Owens Lake, so I turned back. Unfortunately, the American Hotel there burned down two weeks later, and I wish I had continued to the road’s end.

Alabama Hills

I had also read about the Alabama Hills at Lone Pine, but I really didn’t know just how beautiful the site was until I saw for myself. The area was named by its discoverer for a Confederate ship named the Alabama, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be a target for renaming!

Cottonwoods at Alabama Hills

The backdrop of Mt. Whitney and the Eastern Sierras was stunning, but it was the foreground that enchanted me. The pillow-shaped rocks were very similar to those at one of my favorite areas of Joshua Tree National Park.

I was also fortunate to arrive in late afternoon when the light was at its most stunning.

Arch Trail view from parking lot

I was shocked that the Arch trailhead parking lot was pretty empty, since there were RVs and campers at nearly every nook and cranny up against the hills. I’m not sure if that’s the norm, or if it was because the campgrounds were still closed due to the pandemic. But if you’ll notice above, there is a heart-shaped hole in the rock.

Here’s a zoomed view from the parking lot. The trail was an easy one, and I was in love!

Heart rock from the other side

This wasn’t the famed arch, however. That was found toward the end of the trail (or toward the beginning if one went the opposite direction from the parking lot.)

You could get right up to it. I couldn’t believe there was nobody else clamoring for a turn to look through the window.

Black-throated sparrow

There weren’t a lot of birds or wildflowers in the areas I visited, but this black-throated sparrow didn’t mind telling everyone about his chosen territory.

View from Whitney Portal road

After the hike I drove up Whitney Portal Road. There were several viewpoints looking down in to the valley I had just come from.

View from Whitney Portal
View from Whitney Portal
Whitney Portal

Two days ago, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake occurred several miles from Lone Pine, centered in Owens Lake. There were rockfalls, including a huge rock that crashed into the campground below. Whitney Portal is now closed to climbers/hikers. I’m wondering if the balanced rock at Alabama Hills is still in place.

Inyo County required everyone to wear masks in public, and many did, especially indoors. I limited my public contact, wore a mask, and washed or sanitized my hands when I had to use a public restroom. There was a lovely little park right in Lone Pine where I ate take-out meals.

Moonlight

By dusk I had found an unoccupied and quite lovely spot to camp out. My style of camping is just to park my car, eat my “dinner” and cover myself with a sleeping bag, push the seat back, and go to sleep. I woke up around 2 a.m. to light from the full moon washing over the landscape.

Of course I had to get out the camera and tripod. Unfortunately I guessed at the focus and missed a little, but it’s still a stunning image of the big dipper behind an unusual rock.

It was a magical end to a wonderful first day of my Eastern Sierras roadtrip.

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre
Feel free to reblog or share
Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com
Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America
Join my Facebook Page
Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com

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Lagniappe

May 28, 2020 at 7:03 pm (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, California wildflowers, Nature, Nature photography, San Luis Obispo County, Wildflowers) (, , )

Western bluebird male

Lagniappe often means “a little of this, a little of that.” Since I have many hangers-on images that didn’t quite fit into a themed blog, I’m tossing them all in here like a stew.

Mrs. Western Bluebird

This sapsucker-drilled tree has a cavity just perfect for this pair of western bluebirds.

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Southern Monterey County

May 21, 2020 at 8:33 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, Butterflies, California, California Central Coast, California wildflowers, Monterey County, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildflowers) (, , , )

Nacimiento-Fergusson Road at Fort Hunter Liggett
Same view same time last year

The Los Padres National Forest re-opened the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road and I had a hankering to explore one of my favorite areas in Central Coast California.

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Morro Rock-Otters & Birds

May 11, 2020 at 5:45 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, California wildflowers, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, San Luis Obispo County, Wildflowers) (, )

Mom and baby sea otter

Photographers like me like to go out early in the morning when the birds are active and the people aren’t. Marilyn and I headed out to Morro Rock, part of Morro Bay State Park on Saturday, with a stop at my favorite California viewpoint off Hwy 46.

Looking toward Morro Rock, well hidden in fog

As is typical of summer, the coast is often shrouded in fog on mornings when it is sunny and headed for hot weather in Paso Robles.

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Estero Bluffs

May 8, 2020 at 6:23 pm (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, California wildflowers, Nature, Nature photography, San Luis Obispo County) (, , )

A partial fogbow

Estero Bluffs is one of my favorite places along the California coast. The best trail for me is this one, by the windmill. On this morning, it was the second trail of the day for my friend and me.

Windmill and oaks

The fogbow was a bit of magic that added to the beauty of the oaks and windmill.

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Shell Creek Wildflowers

April 30, 2020 at 7:51 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, California wildflowers, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildflowers) ()

Lupine, purple owl’s clover, California poppies, tidy tips

There’s a street famous in these parts for its bounty of wildflowers. Shell Creek Road is off Highway 58 between Paso Robles and Carrizo Plain National Monument.

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Hummingbirds

April 23, 2020 at 6:59 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) ()

Female Allen’s Hummingbird and lilac

This spring was the first I had noticed some unusual hummingbirds at my yard feeders.

Male Rufous Hummingbird

Unlike the mostly iridescent green-backed Anna’s hummers that are year-round residents, these sported a lot of rusty coloration.

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Love of Carrizo Plain in the Time of COVID-19

April 7, 2020 at 8:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, California wildflowers, Nature, Nature photography, San Luis Obispo County, Wildflowers, Wildlife) ()

Pronghorn females

I have visited Carrizo Plain National Monument about a dozen times and this is the first time I saw pronghorns. I guess it helped that it was not a people-frenzied super bloom year, as last year was, and it was also in the midst of the Safe-at-Home era of the COVID-19 pandemic, so running across them was more likely.

Two pronghorn does

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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.

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