Category Archives: Birds

April 13, 2017 Bodega Bay, California

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

Monday morning I left the Mariposa Fairground and made what I thought would be a 4 hour trip to Bodega Bay on the California Coast. My 4 hour trip ended up being closer to 7 hours when I made the mistake of heading north from Mariposa on Route 49, a road I had not driven before. Well, turns out there are a few 7% grades to climb and descend, as well as about a thousand sharp switchbacks and hairpin turns along that route, and, although it was nothing my rig couldn’t handle, I seldom found myself going much over 20 mph.

And then, when I finally reached route 101 and turned north to Petaluma, I encountered some of California’s infamous commuter traffic heading north to home after a work day spent in the San Francisco area ( I’m guessing ). Four lanes of northbound traffic were squeezed down to two lanes at a point where there was an on ramp with traffic backed up forever, and this resulted in a traffic jam of about seven miles moving at stop and go speed and taking around an hour to cover the those seven miles into Petaluma where I was finally able to get off the highway and head west to the coast on uncrowded secondary roads. I have no idea how these poor folks can handle this day after day. This backup was caused strictly by traffic volume and not by any kind of construction or an accident along the way … this would be a daily occurrence!

Without a doubt, this state has got to have the most dangerous aggressive drivers I have encountered. Couple that with the deplorable condition of most of the roads in the state and horrific traffic conditions and suffice it to say, this is not a fun state to travel in. Add in the higher cost of everything out here, gas  ( where does all the gas tax money actually go since it obviously isn’t showing up in highway maintenance ), camping fees ( my spot in Bodega Bay is $34/night for a primitive site and is much less than anything else around here ),  and food ( I was going to treat myself to a fresh seafood dinner in one of the local restaurants, but checking out menus and realizing that it would be over $50 for any sort of meal, I had a sandwich at home ). But then, there is an unbelievable amount of unique and gorgeous natural features in the state, so it pretty much is a must see state. Grin and bear it, I guess.

Westshore Camping Area on Bodega Bay

Westshore Camping Area on Bodega Bay

Anyhow, I finally made it to the Westshore Camping Area in Bodega Bay around 5 PM and was able to get into a site that had three midweek days that were unreserved. All the reservable sites in the campground were reserved for the weekend, so I hoped maybe someone would move out of the two first come, first served sites before my three days were up … and lo and behold, both sites opened up the next day and I was able to claim one of them and thus can stay here through the weekend now.

Weather continues to be very wet, rain every day so far with just one 6 hour window of sun and cloudy skies when I was able to zip up Route 1 for 30 miles and get these shots.

Campground Wildflowers

Campground Wildflowers

Some spots of nice wildflowers but no poppies in bloom yet, still a couple of weeks away.

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

Probably because of the weather, but traffic on Coastal Route 1 is pretty light right now, making it a very pleasant drive.

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

Russian River Harbor Seals

Russian River Harbor Seals

At the mouth of the Russian River, Route 1 climbs up to hundred feet or so above the beach and you get this view of a stretch of beach where the harbor seals haul out.

Russian River Harbor Seals

Russian River Harbor Seals

Russian River Harbor Seals

Russian River Harbor Seals

Wonder what the “sleep number” is on those rocks, these guys look like they are pretty comfortable.

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

This Peregrine falcon was perched atop a sea stack only a few feet from the edge of the highway …

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

… keeping an eye on everything while doing his morning preening routine.

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

I’ve never encountered one of these birds that was so unafraid of humans nearby. Of course there was no way you could get out to where it was sitting, but still quite unusual for a bird of prey to be this unconcerned with human activity so close by ( less than 100 feet ).

Hillside Grazers

Hillside Grazers

Along Route 1, you have some incredibly steep drop-offs to the cliffs and beach hundreds of feet below, with no guard rails, so most people probably don’t even notice the cattle grazing of the green hillsides on the other side of the highway. These animals have to be in some kind of shape to handle the steep grades of their pasture land.

Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

About 30 miles north of Bodega bay is the Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve, where rhodys grow wild up to 30 feet tall under second growth redwoods. Unfortunately, I was a little early to catch the rhodys in bloom, but it must be something to see in a month or so.

Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

The four mile drive ( single lane one way gravel road ) takes you through a dark, damp, coastal rain forest. Lots of moss and ferns to see in addition to the rhodys and redwoods.

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March 4, 2017 Ogilby Road BLM Area, California

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

More Hummingbirds at Ogilby Road

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

The gorgeous male Anna’s Hummingbird made several visits to the feeders over the past few days so I was able to get a few decent shots of this colorful little bird.

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

When the wind shifted to the south, I finally was able to capture some of the wild variations of color in this birds throat and cap.

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

Immature ?? Hummingbird

Immature ?? Hummingbird

As usual, the number of females and immature males far outnumbered the colorful adult males I most desired to shoot.

Immature ?? Hummingbird

Immature ?? Hummingbird

Hummingbirds and Ocotillo

Hummingbirds and Ocotillo

Immature ?? Hummingbird

Immature ?? Hummingbird

Nonetheless, these guys are beautiful in their own right, even if not as spectacularly colorful as the mature males.

Immature ?? Hummingbird

Immature ?? Hummingbird

Immature ?? Hummingbird

Immature ?? Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

Once more the male Rufous made an appearance also.

Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

Note the pollen on the top of his head, obviously he has been visiting other feeding sources out in the desert.

Rufous Hummingbird Portrait

Rufous Hummingbird Portrait

With temperatures forecasted to hit 90 this week, I am going to break camp and head west to the Salton Sea and then up onto higher, and cooler, ground in Joshua Tree National Park where the desert flowers are getting ready to put on a show ( I hope ? ).

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February 28, 2017 Ogilby Road BLM area, California

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

The Desert Begins to Bloom, Bringing Hummingbirds

Sunrise, Ogilby Road BLM Area

Sunrise, Ogilby Road BLM Area

Another beautiful day in the desert begins with a colorful sunrise. It is just about at this time in the morning that I go outside and fill the hummingbird and other feeders I have planted outside my motorhome door.

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

The hummingbirds arrive at the feeders before it is anywhere light enough to photograph, so I use this time to go out and scour the surrounding area for any blooming flowers I can find. The blooms are few and far between, but it is now only a matter of time before everything starts to pop, given the recent rains and how green everything is around here.

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

Though there are hundreds of healthy ocotillos around, there are only a few here and there that have started to bloom, and these flowers are the perfect photo prop to use for these desert hummers.

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

I know there are at least three different types of female hummingbirds coming in to feed, but other than the fairly distinctively colored Rufous, I am never exactly sure who is who with these females, so i won’t bother to attempt to label their images.

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

Costa's Hummingbird

Costa’s Hummingbird

The male Costa’s is pretty easy to identify, but seems to be the most timid of the other male hummingbirds coming in, and is always chased off by either the male Rufous or Anna’s.

Costa's Hummingbird

Costa’s Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird and Ocotillo

Rufous Hummingbird and Ocotillo

The male Rufous is probably the most aggressively possessive of the feeders, chasing off all others who dare approach. He actually kind of irritates me as I wait for birds to approach and he chases them off before I can get a shot taken. After scaring them off, he retreats to the inner branches of a nearby tree, leaving me with nothing to photograph until he gets hungry again or finally decides to fly off and check out other areas.

Rufous Hummingbird and Ocotillo

Rufous Hummingbird and Ocotillo

His throat coloring is very impressive if exposed to the proper light. Unfortunately, with the sun coursing across the southern sky and the prevailing wind coming from the north, I have been unable to get a great shot of him yet ( they prefer to feed facing into the wind ).

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

And then there is the colorful Anna’s male. This guy was here a lot in the beginning but has made far fewer appearances since the Rufous arrived and staked out his claim to my feeders.

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

I was here two years ago in a spot only a hundred yards or so from where I am now along the same wash and had a lot more activity than I am getting here this year. Still, I have a hard time complaining about day after day of wonderful 70 degree weather with cool nights and gorgeous sunrises, with three different hummingbird species to shoot.

Hopefully I’ll have some more shots of the male hummers next post.

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February 26, 2017 Ogilby Road BLM Area, California

Burrowing Owl Portrait

Burrowing Owl Portrait

Finally Some Opportunities to Shoot a Few Birds

Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl

I drove north from my campsite on Ogilby Road to check out the Cibola NWR, a refuge I have visited twice before. The fields were green but the birdlife pretty sparse at the refuge, perhaps because the migrants have already taken wing to begin their northward migration.

Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl

However, the Burrowing Owls were here as they usually are, and I can never resist spending some time with these diminutive ( about the size of a pigeon )  little raptors.

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

Back home at the campsite, the feeders I have put out are finally attracting some action, such as this male Anna’s Hummingbird,

Male Costa's Hummingbird

Male Costa’s Hummingbird

this male Costa’s Hummingbird,

Gathering Nest Material

Gathering Nest Material

this female ??? hummingbird, with spider’s silk wrapped on it’s beak,

Male Rufous Hummingbird

Male Rufous Hummingbird

and this male Rufous Hummingbird.

Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

The female hummingbirds coming to the feeders far outnumber the more colorful males, although this female Rufous is fairly colorful herself.

Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

My tray feeders have attracted White-crowned Sparrows,

??? Sparrow

??? Sparrow

??? Sparrow

??? Sparrow

along with these unidentified sparrows,

??? Sparrow

??? Sparrow

plus a few House Finches and one solitary Verdin, drawn in by the oranges I put out in the tree. Unfortunately, the little Verdin has been completely uncooperative in allowing me to catch him in action.

With my dental work complete, I hope to now be able to spend some serious time attempting to get some decent Hummingbird shots.

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