Birds, Butterflies, and Beach Towns

Ruddy_DuckIt was another full day today starting with a bird walk at a place called Oso Flaco, or Skinny Bear. We saw Scaup, Ruddy ducks, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Shovelers, a green heron, juvenile black crowned night herons, and white pelicans as well as some shore birds and a few black phoebes. The Ruddy ducks proved to be the most photogenic Racoonthough. And then there was this marauding mammal that snuck into the picture.

Next we had a real treat with a visit to the Monarch Butterfly grove in Pismo Beach where the Pacific butterflies come to hang out for the winter. We even got to see some mating behavior. I have in mind to do something artsy with Monarchsbutterflies but it isn’t going to happen tonight so this view of the clusters where they hang together will have to do for now though it is awfully hard to see that this is really a tree covered with butterflies and not a bunch of dead leaves.

ShorebirdFinally, we had lunch in downtown Pismo Beach and then strolled out on the Pier and around town looking at the shops and taking pictures of the signs. By this time I was almost too tired to enjoy it. The first picture here is an artistic look at the shadow of the pier against the patterns of the waves in the sand. The shorebird just ties it all together. Then we have a great painterly rendition of the Splash Splash2restaurant. Splash has been providing our catered meals throughout the week.

We ended the day with an very fascinating talk on falconry and owls with live bird examples. Nobody told me to bring my camera and I was too pooped to go back and get it.

Tomorrow promises to be another very full day but a trip to the Elephant Seal rookery will definitely be the highlight!

Of Sunsets and Sea Otters

Thsunset1is is the sunset that was happening last night as I was finishing yesterday’s blog. This, by the way was shot from my hotel room balcony.

This morning was spent in classroom mode learning about Sea Lions, Elephant Seals and Monarch Butterflies. Then we took a field trip to Morro Bay and had a walk along an Estuary which was interesting but not to photogenic for the short telephoto lens on the M3.

The next stop was along the Bay to look for sea otters. We were in luck and Sea_Ottersfound 15. It was still pushing the envelope for the M3 and how I was wishing for my 150
-600 lens. But with a little cropping and finessing I did come up with some sea otters that looked like sea otters oughter. (Sorry, couldn’t resist). But I still hope to have time to go back with the big girl camera before heading home.

Sea_Otters2

Sea_Otter1

Sea_Otter2

And then there was this Brown Pelican wBrown_Pelicanho actually showed up to try and steal the otters food.

And the sun had just set when we got back to the hotel so here is another pretty sunset picture.

sunset2

Tomorrow we have a bird walk, a trip to the Monarch butterfly grove and some time in downtown Pismo Beach.

On the Road Again!

Today is the first day of a two week adventure in California. Clear sailing over the Siskiyous set the stage for a great day. Unfortunately, the only glimpse I got of Mt. Shasta was in a place where it was not safe to pull over for a photo so that op went by. I finally decided to pull off the freeway at Willows and see what I could find to photograph.

What I found was grain elevators. Who cGrain_Elevatorsan resist the shapes and textures of a grain elevator? Not me for sure. Here is the first one I stopped at done in a Platinum tone black and white treatment in Topaz Black and White Effects.

The next grain elevators were metal and Grain_Elevators2cried out for a cool tone treatment so I went with a Cyanatone, also in Topaz B&W Effects. I toned it down some using decreased saturation in Photoshop but I still think the toning is a bit overdone. I’m also not crazy about the jet streak in the sky but it could be argued that the diagonal line adds something.

I checked in to Granzella’s Inn in Williams and then set out for the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. Now, it should be said that the Sacramento Valley Wildlife refuges are a worthy destination iSnowy_Egretn themselves but for this trip they had to be just a fly by. I made three laps around the auto tour route and came up with this handsome Snowy Egret who seemed much more interested in his/her dinner than me and my car blind. And for once the sun was coming from the right direction.

MeadowlarkThen there was this Western Meadowlark just hanging out on the edge of the lake, actually there were several, along with some Brewer’s blackbirds. I still can’t get over the detail in the feathers that is coming out of the 7D Mark II. Wow, just wow.

Tomorrow I make my way from Williams to Salinas or wherever I land en route to Pismo Beach where I am due to start a Road Scholar trip on Thursday. Mostly, making tracks is on my agenda for tomorrow but there should be at least one Mission on my route and who knows what else may turn up. Check in tomorrow or, better yet, subscribe to this blog and find out!