Every year while at the San Diego Birding Festival in February, I visit Cabrillo National Monument on the high far end of Point Loma overlooking San Diego Bay. On the ocean side, at the foot of the point, there are weathered compressed earth cliffs, and tide pools. I go there for the Pelicans. Pelicans use the uplift from the wind off the sea rising up the cliff face to glide for miles along the point…and the come by the tide pool area, often just above eye-level, for some dramatic flight shots. The light yesterday was variable, not always ideal, but with patience, I managed several sequences of shots. The Pelicans cup the wind with their huge wings and appear to be just hanging in air in a single shot like this, but they are really moving at about 30 miles an hour, and keeping them in frame is part of the challenge. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/2000th @ f8 @ ISO 100. Processed in Photoshop Express, Apple Photos, and Polarr.
Harbor Seals, Children’s Pool, La Jolla, California [/caption}
Yesterday, I made my annual pilgrimage to La Jolla Cove and the Children’s Pool to see the Harbor Seals on their pupping grounds (among the many delights of that wonderful stretch of coast). I was surprised and slightly disappointed as I walked down from the north end of Scripps Park to see so few seals on the beach. Children’s Pool Beach is closed from December to May as it is taken over by the local Harbor Seals to give birth and to raise their pups to an age when they are safe on their own. Generally the beach is thick with seals and nursing pups when I visit in late February, but this year there were only a few seals at either end of the beach. There were, however, a lot more people than usual on high arch of sea-wall that protects the beach on the sea side, so I suspected there might be seals on that side, and I was right. The wall overlooks some semi-sheltered rocks, and submerged ledges honey combed with deep pockets, which is, evidently, ideal water for the seals to give birth, and they were busy doing just that…or laying out on their sides waiting to do that. The mother’s on the rocks were huge! They looked ready to pop at any moment, and at least 4 of them had popped that morning. The new pups were frisking around them, with the umbilical cords still hanging. One pup was born just as I got to the wall. I spent the better part of an hour there, watching the new pups play, and waiting for another birth, but birthing time was evidently over by then. The pups and mothers were in the “getting acquainted” stage, with much face-time…nose to nose…sniffing each other’s breath (which is how they identify each other at least for the nursing time). With that many new pups at once, there was, as always, some confusion when a pup would approach the wrong mother, only to get rebuffed after a nose to nose. The pup in the photo is certainly less than an hour old. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/250th @ ISO 100 @ f4. -.3EV. Processed in Polarr and TouchRetouch (to remove a bright hotspot where the sun reflected off the wet fur off the mother).
After a slow time at Famosa Slough yesterday morning, I decided to go look for the Burrowing Owls along the San Diego River Channel in the Southern Wildlife Preserve, in Mission Bay Park. There are a few that have their homes in ground squirrel nests there, if you know where to look. I found them last year, half burred in the ice plant, after failed attempts the two years before. This year the ice plants have died back considerably and I found my owl sitting out on a sizable mound of dirt in front of its burrow. I saw at least one other likely burrow but no owl there. It was raining when I found the owl, and I have lots of pics of it eating a small bird in the increasingly wet rain…before fear for my damp camera and myself drove me back to the car. I could see that it was a passing storm, so I drove up and across Sea World Drive to visit the facilities at the Boat Ramp in Mission Bay Park, and came back when the storm had passed. The owl was still there, now taking its ease and drying off in the sun. It was super cooperative, not afraid of me at all, and allowed me to take a few steps out into the dead ice plant to get this close up at 600mm. You would have to view it at full resolution to see the feather detail, but it is amazing! Sony RX10iv. Program mode. 1/800th @ f4 @ ISO 100. -.3EV. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Though I am in San Diego this morning, I only got here late last night and have not gotten out for any pics, so here is one from a few weeks ago, on our back deck in a snowstorm. The background of snow makes this look somewhat surreal (or that is what I think). Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/250th @ ISO 160 @ f4. -.3EV. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
We put the meal worms out for the Bluebirds, but I don’t begrudge them to the Chickadees, and Nuthatches, and Titmice, especially on cold winter’s day after heavy snow. This Black-capped Chickadee certainly seems to enjoy them. (I am not so forgiving of the two Starlings that have started to haunt the meal worm feeder.) Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/250th @ f4 @ ISO 200. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
When the temperature got up to 40 degrees yesterday afternoon (after waking to 6 inches of wet snow) Carol and I went to the beach for a walk. She walks the length of the beach, maybe a mile, in the time it takes me to go a few hundred yards, but then I am looking for images. 🙂 Like this clam shell, which evidently served as an anchor for a stand of seaweed until a ruff surf and heavy tide pulled it loose from its other half and cast it ashore, still attached to the weed. I saw it in the pile, and pulled it out to face the sun for this shot. Color and texture are what makes this image compelling (or at least interesting). Sony RX10iv at 600mm and 4 feet for a tele-macro. In-camera HDR. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
I went out to the Kennebunk Plains yesterday to see if I could get out to the pond. It was very quiet. No birds, no sign of wildlife of any kind. The pond was still completely frozen over. The grasslands, however, had lost most of their snow. (That was yesterday. We got close to 6 inches overnight.) All that was left, at least where the snow had not drifted, were patches of ice in the low spots where the sun was slowly sculpting around vegetation, creating filigree ice. I am always reminded of french curves. I photographed a lot of patches, and chose these 4 as a representative sample. To me, the panel is worth some study as I find quite a bit of subtle beauty there. Sony RX10iv at various focal lengths. In-camera HDRs. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
One nice thing about the Space Coast Birding and Nature Festival being in late January is that the Anhingas are always in full breeding plumage, and there is no place better than the Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands in Viera Florida to see and photograph them. There are quite a few of them there, and they like to sit out on the tops of the broken Palm trunks, not far out into the ponds. This handsome male seems pretty full of himself. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/500th @ f4 @ ISO 100. -.3EV Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Near the restrooms, half way around Black Point Wildlife Drive at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Titusville, Florida, when we were there for the Space Coast Birding and Nature festival, there were always a bunch of winter Forester’s Terns in the air, over a little canal where there were evidently a lot of small fish. They were swooping, and hovering, and diving…and who could resist trying to catch them in the air. The gallery shows a sampling of the shots I managed to get…but terns are almost as hard to photograph in the air as swallows, and share many of the same flight characteristics. Sony RX10iv in my customized flight mode. 600mm. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
This Red-shouldered Hawk, with its head feathers lifted by a contrary wind, makes me think of the Ornate Hawk Eagle of Central and South America. It has the same crest, but its is natural, and not an artifact of the I wind. I have to think that if the Red-shouldered Hawk had its choice, it might wear this crest all the time. 🙂 I love this pose, with the legs and talons, the weathered wood, and the proud bird. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. 1/1000th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Polarr.