Christmas Eve Birding

December 26, 2018 at 5:15 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Wildlife) (, )

Black Oystercatcher

There was patchy fog in Paso Robles, and I figured it would be thick at the coast, but I was pleasantly surprised. I’d heard about some good birds at several of the Estero Bluffs State Park lookouts and wanted to add a few to my life list.

I was fortunate to find both harlequin ducks, although they were in different spots on the “Fig Tree” trail.

Black Turnstone

I also added the black turnstone to my life list and photo collection!

Peregrine Falcon

I couldn’t believe it was warm enough to wear a tank top. I’ve been out there on a summer afternoon when it was windy and darned cold!

Cayucos from the Estero Bluffs trail

I was happy to see some colorful-billed surf scoters riding the waves.

Then there were the usual suspects.

Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s) warbler showing its butterbutt
Turkey Vulture patrolling the shore

Juvenile double-crested cormorant

Before I made it back to the car, the fish scale clouds rolled in. I knew rain was coming, but I tucked in a short trip to the Morro Bay Marina boardwalk. It was uncharacteristically quiet, perhaps because of the incoming rain.

View of the Back Bay, from Morro Bay Marina
Morro Rock

Unknown shorebird

I gave myself a headache trying to figure which species the above bird was, but I’ll add its name when I find out. It was at Estero Bluffs, and I think it was about the size of the black turnstones. A gentle mist began by the time I was in the car, and we received another welcome dose of rain overnight.

Our coastal hills turn green in winter – thanks to the rain!

This is my favorite viewpoint on State Hwy 46 between Paso Robles and the coast. It’s starting to look like Ireland!

I hear “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” – the original version — is on TV now, so I must end this post to give my Christmas Day a proper ending.

Happy Holidays to all!

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

Advertisements

Permalink Leave a Comment

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

Join my Facebook Page

Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com

Permalink Leave a Comment

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Permalink Leave a Comment

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 »

Permalink Leave a Comment

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 »

Permalink Leave a Comment

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 »

Permalink 4 Comments

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Permalink 4 Comments

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Permalink Leave a Comment

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Permalink 2 Comments

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 »

Permalink 1 Comment

Next page »