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

I jazzed it up quite a bit for the top image, but the clouds weren’t that dramatic.

They were more like this
Lenticular cloud

I’ve seen these clouds regularly over Mount Rainier. They usually meant rain or snow within 24 hours. However, out here, the rain came within a handful of hours.

Bell’s Sparrow

The Bell’s sparrow, along with the Sagebrush sparrow, split from the former Sage sparrow. Visual differences are hard to figure sometimes, but the songs are a bit more distinctive.

Loggerhead Shrike
Prairie Falcon

If you compare the landscape along the Sprague Hill Road with the previous post taken a month later, you’ll see how quickly that rain helped to green up the landscape.

In another month or two, there will be wildflowers blooming!

Carrizo Plain National Monument, California
This was just outside the monument.
I’m not sure what the rock composition is to make this patch so distinctive

Carrizo Plain National Monument is administered by the Bureau of Land Management, and offers a very different landscape from that of the rest of San Luis Obispo County.

Carrizo Plain National Monument, California

Let’s hope for a good winter of rains, to bring back the green to the hillsides. To cover the plain with flowers. To keep drought at bay.

Happy New Year!

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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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

I always hope for at least one new bird or one great photograph. I didn’t get my new bird (mountain plover) but I got some stunners of a barn owl. It’s not a bird I’ve seen a lot of, even though they’re quite common.

This was one of a pair the others in my group had seen in a tamarisk tree. The house resident said there are two pairs that normally take up residence in the old barns and granaries, which have fallen into disrepair.

Barn owl

Although the tree is right next to the house, this owl was extremely wary. Every time it flew into the tree and I got a good look at it, it flew out. I hated to keep harassing it, so I ended the game with a few nice images. There was a large nest in the tree as well, though it’s not certain if the nest belonged to the owl. With the plethora of available covered buildings, I doubt it, but they are known to nest in dense trees.

Kestrel

The count circle was divvied up into sections, and I went with four other women, two of whom had done that area before. Even though I had visited Carrizo several times, this was my first CBC there.

Red-tail hawk

We spent quite a bit of time at the ranch, as the birding was pretty good. The resident of the home had a bird feeder frequented by many lark sparrows and house finches, with some white-crowned sparrows thrown in. There were western meadowlarks, mourning doves, horned larks, and a variety of other usual suspects in the area. Even though there was a hill with many ground squirrel type holes, I couldn’t coax out a burrowing owl.

Western meadowlark

Although the morning started in the low 20s, it warmed to the 50s and a few lark sparrows sprinkled the soundscape with their buzzy melodies. Western meadowlarks also felt a tinge of spring in the air and let out a few notes as well. Meadowlarks tend to be more cooperative photo subjects when they are singing.

Western meadowlark

Horned larks

I saw many more horned larks during a Thanksgiving visit. They tend to travel in large flocks of 20-100. This was on the small side.

We also saw 10 Bell’s sparrows on the edge of Soda Lake. The heat waves distorted nearly all photos taken at any distance, so I don’t have one of these guys, but the distinctive feature at a distance was their very long tails which they cocked up like a miniature roadrunner when they scurried along looking for seeds.

I ventured out of our count area while the others returned to tally the results. I wanted to look for the mountain plover, which would be a life bird for me. No luck at the areas they had been seen in the past. But I did find this prairie falcon.

Mountain bluebird

Several mountain bluebirds were also in the area, and this one caught the sunlight just right.

The blue was absolutely neon!

Say’s phoebe

Say’s phoebes were also on the prowl, especially as the insects became more active as the sun warmed the landscape.

The roadrunner (beep beep!) had crossed the road in front of me, ran down a dry wash, and back out the other side at high speed.

Carrizo Ranch

There is a private ranch on the Sprague Hill Road, which offered some ribbons of green (alfalfa?) in the still-brown landscape.

Carrizo Plain National Monument Christmas Bird Count, Dec. 29, 2018
Carrizo Plain National Monument Christmas Bird Count, Dec. 29, 2018

Just a reminder: This is one of the public lands whose employees are either furloughed or working without pay. Shutting down the government is a tyrannical abuse of power and shouts “failure!” to those we sent to represent our best interests. Our natural, cultural and social heritage is too valuable and precious to be used as a pawn in power grabs. Pay attention to who and what you support, or these lands will just be another commodity for corporations to exploit. End of rant.

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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Carrizo Plain National Monument

January 9, 2016 at 5:07 pm (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, National Parks, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) (, , )

Carrizo Plain National Monument

Carrizo Plain National Monument

The nice thing about being in Oklahoma in winter is that the cold, dreary days make it easy to stay inside and catch up on my photo editing. Although I miss California, I needed some down time and a chance to stop spending several hundred dollars a month in gas traveling to beautiful places year-round. Editing is a way of revisiting these places, such as the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

State Rt. 58

State Rt. 58

April 2015 was past-peak flower season in many areas of California, but enroute to the coast the hills were still kelly green in central California. Read the rest of this entry »

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