Camp Parks – Wildlife Oasis, part 4

June 19, 2018 at 6:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) ()

Great egret with mouse

This great egret finds the grasslands of the Parks Reserve Forces Training Center, aka Camp Parks, to be an excellent hunting ground. Its bill was already quite bloodied before it caught the mouse.

In no time, the mouse was swallowed whole.

Eek!

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Camp Parks – Wildlife Oasis, part 3

June 18, 2018 at 6:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) ()

Turkey families were abundant at the Parks Reserve Center Training Area, also known as Camp Parks, in the Bay Area of California.

Two hens and about 20 chicks were in this group.

Count ’em. There are some not in the picture, too.

A very handsome male.

Wild turkeys are native, but the ring-necked pheasant is not. However, it does no harm and is ubiquitous – an excellent and handsome game bird. They don’t allow hunting on Camp Parks, though. Maybe that’s part of why it’s such an excellent wildlife refuge.

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Oak Landscapes of Jolon and Lockwood

June 16, 2018 at 5:13 pm (California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography)

Jolon-Lockwood, Central Coast, California landscapes

I live and work in some of the most beautiful landscapes in California. Sometimes I take a drive through the country roads of Jolon and Lockwood to admire the scenery.

A vineyard glows chartreuse in the distance.

The oaks that grow on the hills tend to be blue oaks. Valley oaks grow larger and more impressive, but tend to be on flatter ground.

Tule elk herd

Black Hawk helicopter from nearby Fort Hunter Liggett

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Camp Parks – A Wildlife Oasis in Bay Area – part 1

June 16, 2018 at 9:52 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography) ()

Female northern harrier

An Army Reserve training installation in the San Francisco Bay area is small, but when it comes to wildlife, it is a powerhouse.

Parks Reserve Forces Training Area in Dublin, California is only a few thousand acres of hilly grassland, but because it is surrounded by ever-encroaching housing, it is a magnet for displaced wildlife.

View from Parks Reserve Forces Training Area, Dublin, Calif.

However, it is not open to the public for nature watching.

Mule deer with deformed antlers

This isolation may have something to do with the preponderance of deformed antlers in the mule deer population.

Other than that, they seem to be doing well.

Burrowing owl and trail camera

There are also a few burrowing owl nesting sites, and this one has a trail camera set up by a biologist to monitor it. The chicks were banded and their dispersion is studied over time.

Is California called The Golden State because of the color of the grasses most of the year? (It’s especially beautiful in winter/early spring when rains make it look like Ireland)

Loggerhead shrike

These images and those in the next few posts were taken on a two-hour visit with the installation biologist, starting shortly after dawn.

Pie-billed grebe

Great blue heron

Stay tuned for white-tailed kites, turkeys, and an egret catching a mouse.

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Tule Elk Herd

April 16, 2018 at 5:00 am (California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Wildlife) (, )

A herd of tule elk grazed peacefully in a field along Mission Road, Fort Hunter Liggett, California on Saturday, back-dropped by blue and valley oak. Tule elk are the smallest of the three elk sub-species found in California.

“Tule elk are endemic to California and the most specialized elk in North America, given that they live in open country under semi-desert conditions, whereas the species as a whole typically occupies temperate climates and utilizes heavy cover at least seasonally.” — From California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife.

Two calves have already been born to this herd.

The bull is growing his new set of antlers, but is no less the boss of his harem of 10 cows and one that looks like a spike male. Annoyed by the photographer, he slowly gets his herd moving, nudging one cow and tapping on the rear end of a calf hidden in the grass. The two calves cavort as the herd slowly moves to another grazing area. See it in the video.

I’m not sure how old these calves are, but they do have white spots like deer fawns.

These elk are commonly seen along the post’s public roads, and I can’t wait until there are more calves and the bull has a full rack on display as the season goes on.

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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The Other Side of Big Sur

April 14, 2018 at 6:00 am (California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildflowers)

Along the San Antonio River

The landscape just the other side of the Santa Lucia Range from Big Sur is a lovely mix of blue and valley oaks, cottonwood and willows, and grassy fields.

The foothills pines provide a gray-green backdrop to the new leaves of the oaks, and the foreground is often colored with the previous year’s dried-up yellow-star thistle, a noxious invasive that resists control.

The pines look as if I’ve turned that part of the image black-and-white, but this truly is the tonality.

Valley oaks tend to be bigger and grow in the valleys, while blue oaks have deeper roots and can cling better to the many rolling hillsides.

The trunk of the valley oak is checker-boarded like this, and it is most distinct on the oldest trees.

This year’s wildflower bloom is a bust, especially compared to last year’s superbloom which I missed. But there are some patches of sky lupine on the roadsides.

There were also a few mule deer out and about.

The textures and interplay of greens is always a show-stopper for me.

The oaks on this side of the mountain range rarely get the Sudden Oak Disease that is afflicting many on the coast. The thought is the pathogen needs the fog and moisture from coastal climate to thrive, and our side is drier. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a late wildflower showing, since the rains came late. I’ll keep you posted!

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Pinnacles National Park – West Side

April 8, 2018 at 10:32 am (California, National Parks, Nature, Nature photography, Photography)

Pinnacles NP west side, CA (27) copy

My first visit to Pinnacles National Park was about three years ago when I lived in Apple Valley, Calif. I stopped there again on my way to San Francisco a few weeks ago.

Road to Pinnacles NP West side, CA (1) copy

One of my favorite views is on the narrow, winding road from the Salinas Valley to the park’s west entrance, with this particular oak tree leafing out in spring.

Western bluebird male, Calif copy

Western bluebirds were busy in the visitor center parking lot snatching bugs.

Pinnacles NP west side, CA (5) copy

I was enamored with this tapestry of green hues backlit by the mid-day sun.

Pinnacles NP west side, CA (3) copy

The landscape is volcanic in origin, and the west side offers several trails. I chose the short, easy one – The Balconies Cliffs-Cave loop trail.

Pinnacles NP west side, CA (9) copy

The layers of color as I approached the end of the trail fascinated me.

Pinnacles NP west side, CA (20) copy

I didn’t notice at the time, but this rock formation looks like a whale leaping out of the water to swallow the moon!

Pinnacles NP west side, CA (12) copy

Pinnacles is known for having good rock climbing routes, but many can be pretty much walked up, like this one.

Pinnacles NP west side, CA (3) copy

I was too early for the wildflowers there (and the winter rains were late) but I’m guessing the flowers are making a showing by now. I didn’t see the California condors I had seen there last time, but there’s always the option for another visit!

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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A Pretty Cool Day

March 17, 2018 at 4:51 pm (California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) (, , )

Rainbow and blue oak, Fort Hunter Liggett, California

I missed the bus yesterday morning. Actually there was a new driver and he wasn’t at my stop at the right time. So I drove 50 miles to work.

I’m glad I did because as soon as I got to Fort Hunter Liggett, California, the rainbows happened. Read the rest of this entry »

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Homosassa Wildlife Park

March 10, 2018 at 5:35 pm (Bird photography, Birds- Florida, Florida State Parks, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife, Zoos)

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Crested caracara

My birding friend Marilyn and I knew that the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park  was a great place for bird photography from a visit a few years earlier. We were determined to return when I was able to extend a business trip to take advantage of a 3-day holiday. Read the rest of this entry »

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Snail Kites and ChizzyWinks

March 4, 2018 at 2:52 pm (Bird photography, Birds- Florida, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) (, , )

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Florida snail kite, female

Actually, I thought they were called chisleywinks, but couldn’t find that word, so chizzy wink it is. But more about them in a minute

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Florida snail kite, male

This post is about the endangered Everglade snail kite, which lives in the U.S. only in Florida and eats pretty much only apple snails. Read the rest of this entry »

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