Morro Coast Bird Festival – part 2

February 20, 2019 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) (, , )

Brown pelican resting on a light

The Morro Coast Bird Festival held in January 2019 at Morro Bay, California had a huge selection of field trips, workshops, and classes to choose from. I chose two trips in a boat, a walking trip along Morro Bay, and some car caravan trips.

Brown pelican looking for fish

The brown pelicans are coming into their breeding colors, but I had never seen one fly with his huge head dangling down like this one.

Morro Bay in the fog

This post will feature some of the larger water birds I saw on my various trips.

Great blue heron
Great blue heron trying to look thin
Great egret
Pelagic cormorant
Double-crested cormorant
Double-crested cormorants
Brandt’s cormorant
Kayakers on Morro Bay
Black-crowned night heron
Great blue heron

Stay tuned for Part 3.

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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A Yellow House Finch

February 18, 2019 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) (, )

Yellow house finch
A yellow male house finch

House finch males are normally raspberry or orange-red in color, but occasionally a male turns up with yellow plumage. I was lucky enough to have one show up at my feeder in Paso Robles, California on Feb. 17, 2019.

This is the typical color of male house finches.

It isn’t rare like the Yellow Cardinal that showed up in Alabama, but it’s not very common either.

One of each color
With a female house finch
Sunflower seeds are preferred over millet

If the bird’s diet lacks carotenoids, or if he can’t assimilate those pigments which help form the red tints, he will be yellow.

It is possible he won’t have much luck with the ladies, but if the Yellow Cardinal can find a mate, maybe there’s hope for this guy.

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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Carrizo Plain in November

January 1, 2019 at 6:01 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography) ()

Carrizo Plain National Monument, California

This image reminds me of Zabriski Point at Death Valley. I visited Carrizo Plain National Monument in Central California the day before Thanksgiving 2018. The most stunning natural phenomena that day were the lenticular clouds forming stacks of flying saucers due to the turbulent atmosphere preceding a rare rainstorm.

Lenticular clouds stacked like pancakes
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Carrizo Plain Christmas Bird Count

December 30, 2018 at 1:02 pm (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography) (, , , , )

Barn Owl at old Goodwin Ranch

I missed the Dec. 15 Christmas Bird Count with the Morro Coast Audubon Society due to acute bronchitis, so I was happy for the chance to do the one at Carrizo Plain National Monument on Dec. 29.

Barn Owl
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Faces Only a Mom Could Love

December 25, 2018 at 7:30 pm (California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) ()

Elephant Seal bull calling out a challenge

I’m recovering from a 3-week bout of acute bronchitis and needed to get my nature fix, so I spent Christmas Eve day visiting some of my favorite spots on the Central California Coast.

The Elephant Seal Rookery at San Simeon is seeing some early action during the winter breeding season, but there were far more bulls than maternity patients. Since there weren’t too many ladies to fight over, many of them enjoyed sprawling on the sand catching a few winks, their gnarly snouts wiggling as they snored.

There were occasional challenges, however, with heads thwacking and teeth slashing before one – usually the younger, smaller bull – backing down. The more grotesque the “trunk” and the thicker the neck, the more powerful the bull. Some young males choose to tangle with someone their own size, waiting for the day they can claim mating privileges.

Bellowing bull

Frankly, they look more like hippopotami (hippopotamuses?) to me.

The few moms on the beach had newborn pups squawking amid the din of barks and bellows. They will soon fatten on rich milk and will be joined by hundreds more moms and pups on the beach.

Watch the video and hear the racket!

The rookery is a very popular place, and many languages of amazement and awe were heard on the boardwalk that allows for safe viewing. Docents are often on hand to educate visitors and make sure they don’t bother the seals. The morning was stunningly warm. I’ve been at the coast on summer afternoons that were colder than this December morning! Oddly, rain came in before sunset.

Clash of the Titans

The birthing and breeding season will peak in January and February, and many elephant seals haul out on smaller beaches nearby. As with all marine mammals, care must be taken not to harass them by getting close to them. It’s bad manners, and also against the law. Enjoy them, respect them, and protect them.

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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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. Read the rest of this entry »

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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.

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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. Read the rest of this entry »

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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. Read the rest of this entry »

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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. Read the rest of this entry »

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