Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sunrise at Chimney Rock

Sunrise at Chimney Rock

From the same April Hike as my previous few posts -- a sea of wildflowers covering the ground with the sandstone cliffs that are so characteristic of Point Reyes National Seashore in the background.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Quail on a post, with a personal note

Photograph of wild irises and sandstone bluffs in Point Reyes

On a trip to Point Reyes National Seashore in April, my wife agreed to wake up with me way before a reasonable hour on a Sunday so that we could be at Chimney Rock for the sunrise to enjoy what has been quoted as one of the best wildflower displays in the Bay Area. (Including the Douglas Irises kissed with the first rays of light shown above.) She’s so wonderfully supportive of my crazy photographic antics, and while she begrudgingly accepts the alarm going off before 4:30am on a weekend, she always enjoys our nature encounters as much as I do. However, she couldn’t help but chuckle at me when I told her that one of my goals for this trip was to capture a male California quail displaying on a pole.

Photograph of a male California quail on a fencepost in Point Reyes

I saw this bird doing exactly what I had envisioned as we were driving out of the park, but we were past it before I had time to stop. Being the ever helpful person that she is, she hopped in the driver’s seat, turned the car around, and took me back to the quail, who was still displaying proudly on his post beside the road. Unfortunately, there was no place to pull off of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard there, so I could only snap off a few shots before we had to move on due to some traffic coming up behind us. However, knowing that I wasn't yet satisfied with what I had, she happily made another set of u-turns so that we could go back for a second round of shots. And that, my friends, is a sign of true love! (This post is in commemoration of our first date, 9 incredible years ago today!)

Photograph of a quail looking over its shoulder

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Long-tailed weasel, Point Reyes National Seashore

Long-tailed weasel

I’ve come to appreciate the fact that not everyone finds wildlife encounters to be as truly thrilling as I do. After a relatively boring hike out to Abbott’s Lagoon (in terms of photographic opportunities), I was fairly resigned to be out of chances to make an interesting image for the day. However, my ever constant scan for wildlife came up with a huge score when I saw this adorable mustelid standing tall in the pasture along the trail. I was stoked! The long-tailed weasel is an animal that I’ve wanted a chance to see for a while, but I figured that it wasn't likely to ever happen.

Long-tailed weasel

We saw him take a few leaps and chases at something, although he never came up with a snack. It was fun to watch him disappear down one gopher hole and then have to scan the area to see where he would pop up next.

Long-tailed weasel

While the pictures themselves aren’t anything special (harsh midday light and cropped significantly), crossing a new wildlife species off of my list is always fantastic, and I was excited to tell anyone about it when we got back. Alas, the odd looks on the faces of the people I told reassured me that it takes a, umm, *special* kind of person to get so excited about encountering a weasel.

Now that I’ve got that one off the list, here’s to hoping a get a chance at a badger!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sparrows and flowers

Another handful of sparrow shots from along the Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore. I believe these are white-crowned sparrows, one of the three sparrow species I was able to photograph on this hike (the Song sparrow in my previous post, and some Savannah sparrows that will appear in a future post).

Sparrow and Flowers

This one landed in the lupine and started pecking at the flowers. I suspect looking for some kind of seed? Although I'm not sure.

Looking for a snack

As I was walking down the trail, some of the birds would occasionally take cover below the tops of the vegetation, but this one was particularly curious while hiding on the underside of some cow parsnip.

Floral refuge

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Singing in the wildflowers

Sparrow in the wildflowers

The Tomales Point Trail is just covered in wildflowers right now, especially over the first half mile or so. It was especially fun on my way out to take a few minutes every now and then to stop and wait until I heard a sparrow's song, and then try to locate it in the viewfinder. Most of them stayed a little more hidden in the vegetation, but every now and then one would display itself proudly.