Hiking back down Hellhole Canyon in Anza Borrego Desert State Park in southern California, on our March 4th wildflower excursion, we found this little natural still-life all set up and waiting. The big cholla stump and the short cholla with the Common Phacelia twined around it, against the backdrop of the Anza Borrego Desert canyon landscape and the Ocotillos standing tall…something for the eye in every corner. In-camera HDR. Sony a51000 with 16mm prime and UWA converter for an 18mm equivalent field of view. Processed in Polarr.
The Red-masked Parakeet is endangered in its home range in Ecuador and Peru, but it is doing very well in California. Feral populations are thriving around San Diego and San Francisco. It was imported, breed, and sold as a cage bird known as the Cherry-headed Conure for many years. There are also established populations in south Florida, in the larger Miami area. These birds came daily, in a flock of more than a dozen, to the pepper tree in the courtyard of the Marina Village Conference Center during the San Diego Birding Festival at the end of February, into March, where they were photographed by a few hundred eager bird photographers attending the event. The feral Parrots and Parakeets for southern California are becoming a “thing” among birders. They even have their on conservation organization and web site :). Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. 1/1000th @ f4.5 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr.
We hiked part way up Hellhole Canyon in Anza Borrego Desert State Park when we went wildflower hunting there in early March. This is a mixed stand of Parish’s Poppy (yellow), Wild Canterbury Bells (purple), and Biglow’s (or maybe Red-stemmed) Monkey Flower (pink). Simply wonderful! In-camera HDR. Sony a5100 with the Sony 16mm f2.8 lens and the UWA converter for an 18mm equivalent field of view. Processed in Polarr.
We arrived in Borrego Springs late Sunday, after sunset, but we could not resist driving up Di Giorgio Road beyond Henderson Canyon Road to were the pavement ends to see the wildflower fields of the first of the superbloom. These shots were taken in the fading light. Brown-eyed Primrose is one of the most common Anza Borrego Desert wildflowers at lower elevations. Desert Lily can be found in isolated patches off Di Giorgio Road, (Coyote Canyon) and we found them the next morning out along S22 near Arroyo Salado Campground. I am sure they are other places as well. We found Evening Primrose wherever there were flowers. And finally a mixed stand of Brown-eyed Primrose, Sand Verbena, and maybe one of the popcorn flowers? Sony RX10iv at 600mm and 400mm equivalents. Macro mode. 1/250th @ f4 @ ISO 100-250. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
It is time to share some desert wildflower closeups from our visit to the Anza Borrego Desert in southern California. These flowers were all found within a few feet of each other on the hillside between S22 and Truckhaven Trail just east of Borrego Springs (there is actually a pin there on google maps, with some photos of the wildflower bloom, courtesy of desertusa.com). They are, clockwise from the upper left, Desert Sunflower, Sand Verbena, California Chicory, and Desert Pincushion. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Macro mode. 1/1000th @ ISO 100 between f5 and f6.3. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
We went to the Anza Borrego Desert in Southern California to see the beginnings of the superbloom of 2019, but that did not mean we did not enjoy the birds. Hellhole Canyon was full of Black-throated Sparrows, all around us, singing, and perching up for us to look. Such a perky little sparrow! Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. 1/400th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr.
This is not a great photo as photo go. The birds were too far away across the Little River Marsh from the overlook on the Laird-Norton Trail at Laudholm Farms (Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve)…so far away that it took 2x Clear Image (digital) zoom to identify them. And then a heavy crop to make the birds big enough so that you can identify them in the photo. But they are Red-breasted Mergansers, and they were actively displaying and courting, and on the theory that any photo is better than none 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (2x Clear Image Zoom). 1/1000th @ f5 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr.
To my eye, the Heermann’s Gull is one of the most handsome gulls in North America. Of course, I don’t have to live them. I only see the Heermann’s on my yearly visits to southern California, mostly at La Jolla Cove when I go there to photograph seals and sea lions, pelicans and cormorants. There are lots of gulls always, but generally, at least by when I visit in late February, early March, only a few Heermann’s. I like the delicate grays set off by the red eye and bill. Sony RX10iv at 218mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds in flight and action modifications. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 500. Processed in Polarr.
An American Avocet at Famosa Slough in San Diego, California. And no, it is not the same photo flipped. Take a look at the legs, both crossed the same way. And they are from slightly different angles as I moved down the trail a bit before the second shot, which is why the birds looks “fatter” in the second shot. I just could not resist posting them side by side. 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
I think this is a Brant’s Cormorant (but it could be Double-crested…hard to tell in this photo…there were more Brant’s than Double-crested that day). Sally (my daughter) and I observed a lot of this behavior off the cliffs at La Jolla Cove in southern California when we visited the end of February. I though at first it might be some kind of mating ritual, or territorial display, but after inquiring of “someone who knows better”, I now know that the bird is just wetting itself. Yes that sounds a bit off-color, but that is what my expert said, and I don’t know how else to describe it. The Cormorants get cold in the cool waters of Southern California, and have to come out onto the rocks to warm up and dry off. Then, when they get back in the water with their dry plumage, they are too buoyant to dive after fish, and have to wet themselves down…which they do by this vigorous splashing. The splashing gets water into the back feathers without their having to submerge. Simple enough, and makes total sense, when you know. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds in flight and action modifications. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 125. Processed in Polarr.