Thursday, April 29, 2010

Harbor seal pup at Salt Point State Park

A tender moment

We had a great weekend trip camping in Salt Point State Park, which is a gem of a park on the Sonoma Coast. On our first morning there we headed down to an overlook that is frequented by harbor seals. The mid-morning light was really harsh and these pictures are cropped more than I prefer to do, but the interactions between a mother harbor seal and her pup were fantastic to witness!

Nursing harbor seal pup

In addition to watching the little one pester its mom to nurse, we also got to see them swimming around in the somewhat sheltered pools between the rocks. Just like a human kid, the pup seemed to just want to keep in constant motion, when it really looked like the mom wanted to take a break out of the water for a while.

A scratch on the head

More than once, they were hauled out on the rocks and the pup would wiggle away and into the water. The mother would watch it for a while, and you could almost see the exasperation on her face as the pup would get too far away and she'd have to head back into the water and corral the pup back to the rocks.

Hungry pup

This is a different seal who was also hanging out there as well, occasionally stretching and trying to find that perfectly comfortable position.

Stretching seal

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day -- Old Growth Redwoods

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day to everyone! This year marks the 40th anniversary of this great holiday that helped to make conservation an everyday word in American households. When trying to decide what to post for this occasion, I couldn't think of anything better than some old growth coast redwoods. Being with these huge trees (the tallest species in the world) can't help but make you think of the stories of Mother Earth and her nuturing, life-giving trees.

Old growth redwoods

Today is a great day to bike to work, flip off those extra lights your not using, turn down the thermostat, or remember to take those canvas bags with you into the store this time. For more ideas on what you can do to celebrate our precious planet, stop on by The Nature Conservancy's Earth Day 2010 page. Or for a little extra inspiration from nature's beauty, head on over to the Conservation International Blog to check out the iLCP's Top 40 Nature Photographs.

Redwoods for Earth Day

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Trillium among Redwoods

These beautiful flowers (Western Trillium, Trillium ovatum) were blooming all over the understory of the old growth redwoods in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (part of the Redwood National and State Parks area). And of course the beautiful Redwood Sorrel was covering the ground as well (Oxalis oregana).

Trillium with Sorrel

This particular bloom was growing on top of an old fallen tree, and offered a chance to show it in its environment in the forest understory.

Trillium in the Forest

For the horizontal frame, I preferred the aperture to be open, really setting off the flower from the backdrop. But in the vertical composition, stopping down to f/11 really put it more in its place among the giants behind it.

Trillium among Redwoods

Monday, April 12, 2010

Brants in the Rain

Brant's are a lovely saltwater goose that I've seen a handful of times along the coast, but never been able to get some nice images of. However, during a February trip to Pillar Point Harbor near Half Moon Bay I was able to spend some time with a small group of these delightful birds.


It was a dreary morning, and as it rained on me during most of my trip down the coast, I was questioning my decision to have ventured out. But as usually happens, the times you think about turning around are often great. There was a light rain while I wandered the shoreline watching the shorebirds and some buffleheads that I posted previously. I didn't even bother with this group the first time I passed by, since the previous times I've seen them at Point Reyes National Seashore, they took off as soon as they saw me (long before I even thought of trying to approach them).

Brants at Pillar Point

However, this small group was really laid back that morning, and I was able to approach them easily while they searched along the rocky shore for a meal and collected raindrops on their feathers.

Salad bar