Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Number 93

Our 93rd species was spotted last night on my way home from town.  As I was passing a neighbor's new gate, I noticed a white bird-ish shape perched on a oak branch overlooking the road.  I hadn't noticed anything there before, and when I stopped to peer at it, discovered the lovely heart shaped face of a male Barn Owl looking back.  We figured they had to be around - they're not uncommon after all - but neither one of us had actually spotted one where we were confident in our identification.  We both agreed that it was a good omen for the nesting prospects of the several Barn Owl nestboxes that Dino has recently installed on our place. (Photo US Fish and Wildlife, in the public domain.)

On the subject of which (bird boxes that is), Dino and Audubon compadres have had several work days the last couple of weeks for building new boxes intended for the abovementioned Barn Owls, plus Wood Ducks and passerines such as Bluebirds and other cavity nesters.

I took last week off work, it was a little rough getting myself back into the office on Monday, but now look!  Four more days off, one of which will be spent eating good food!  Nifty!

This photograph was taken on a not-quite futile fungus hunting expedition over the weekend.  I found this oak bathed in pretty afternoon light near Lion Creek on our Northwest Territory.  A friend who saw this photograph states she can see a horse in it (that would have to be a spirit horse however).

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November Road Trip

Week before last we took a road trip south to attend the memorial service for Dino's aunt.  We took a couple of extra days to play tourist. It was a major road trip, over 700 miles of mostly back roads through some of the most beautiful areas of California.  (Have I mentioned that I love where I live?)  We went to three wildlife refuges, took a side trip to a national monument, took the coast route south, and saw mile after mile of farmland, which has always fascinated me no end.  The cotton crop is being picked.  Slide show photos: the seahorses and all bird photos by Dino except the sanderling.  Others by yours truly.

Thursday was the first leg of the coast part of the trip.  We stopped in San Luis Wildlife Refuge, not too far from home, in the wetlands area of the Central Valley.  The flying critters were jam packed, and unfortunately that included a terrible number of hungry mosquitoes.  Leaving that aside, we did some heavy duty birding, being especially enchanted by the Sandhill Cranes. 

From there we headed toward Monterey, where we arrived in plenty of time to get checked into our comfy but not fancy motel, which as it turned out was only a 10 minute walk to Asilomar State Beach.  After we got situated, we headed to the beach and found that the tide was out enough that we could do some tidepooling.  I hadn't taken my good camera with me, just the iphone, and I did not get good shots of some of the neat critters - crabs and anemones, but the gadget did a pretty good job on capturing the beautiful sunset.

The next morning we lingered in the room a bit, eating breakfast and having a couple of cuppas, and then headed to the aquarium neighborhood.  We were still a bit early, so we walked along the waterfront and did some more bird and Harbor Seal watching, until the aquarium opened.

Love!  The seahorse exhibit was so neat, and although I do love seahorses, I fell in love with the Sea Dragons.  There were a couple of different species, the one in the slideshow is a Leafy Sea Dragon.  I was fascinated by watching their little fins pulsing -  the fins aren't the leafy things.  They have two little fins on the top and near the tail.

Then, on to the jellyfish exhibit, always interesting.  Another area I could just stand mesmerized.  That blue is how the photos came out of the camera - I don't know what the lights are used for these exhibits but wow on that color.

After the aquarium, we spent a couple of hours on a tour of the Tor House, the home of Robinson Jeffers.  We had to make an appointment, because only six people are allowed at a time on the tours, which are strictly led by guides.  I can see why, people would start carrying off bits and pieces of the place no doubt.  Most of the house and all of the nearly 40 foot stone tower were built by Jeffers, by hand, who rolled the stones up the hill from the beach.  We all got to climb the tower, via the secret passageway.  (Actually just hidden behind the door, but fun anyway, if a bit claustrophobic.) 

Next leg of the trip was down the Coast Highway.  Not the speediest way to get to where we were going, but on a nice day, the most beautiful. 

Sunday was our day to head north to home.  Instead we took a southerly direction (so typical of Dino, it's uphill both ways with him always but it's always interesting) and went to the Carrizo Plain National Monument.  This side trip was with the hopes of seeing a California Condor, which had been spotted somewhere in the area, according to the eBird software Dino uses.  We didn't see any condors, but the bird watching was great, I saw a couple of new species for me, including a prairie falcon.  The shot of Soda Lake, a large drainage basin which is seasonally wet show that this obviously is the dry season.  This area is also one of the best areas to see some of the naked slashes of the San Andreas fault - the background of this photo shows the Temblor Range.  Nothing was shakin' while we were there, however.

I'm taking the week off work, it's been lovely to doodle around the house and take multiple walks.  I've been doing a lot of Audubon work so I don't get too used to being lazy.

Fingers crossed for more rain at the end of the week.
Site Meter