Carpinteria Salt Marsh – March 5, 2011

March 7, 2011

We took a quick trip to the Carpinteria Salt Marsh on Saturday.  Most of the marsh is part of the University of California Natural Reserve system, and is closed to the public; however a portion of it is owned by the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County and is open to the public.  I had heard reports of a red fox in the area, and with all the recent rains we hoped to at least find some tracks.  No luck on that front, but we were rewarded with so nice light and cooperative birds.  The highlights were seeing every kind of Teal, a couple Northern Pintails, and even a Surf Scoter preening very close to the beach.  A couple dolphins were also seen lounging and barely moving just offshore.  All in all, it was a very nice morning trip.

“Cinnamon Teal”  –  Carpinteria Salt Marsh

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Wintry weather in Southern California

January 4, 2011

A cold storm blew through last weekend and some mysterious white stuff  graced the Santa Barbara mountains.  Unfortunately the clouds didn’t clear until the snow completely melted from the front range.  However, from the ridge-top there was plenty of snow to be seen on the distant mountain peaks.  Sunset would have been a better time to photograph them, but it is always hard to know how long the clouds will last, so waiting is always a gamble.  As it was, there were clouds forming literally in front of me as I perched atop the ridge.  The constantly moving clouds created some amazing light, with foreground vegetation illuminated against dark skies.  These conditions changed from minute to minute and I could have spent all day photographing along the mountain top.  Unfortunately I had to hit the road, but I’m really glad I made the trip.

“Backcountry Snow”  –  Santa Ynez Range, Los Padres National Forest

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First Front of the Fall

October 4, 2010

It was only a little over a week ago that it was well into the 100’s here in So Cal.  Now, our first cold front of the season is heading our way.  It probably won’t bring much in the way of rain, but it certainly brought the wind!  It also brought some interesting clouds to the local mountains.  Here are a few snaps from the brief evening walk.

“Clouds I”

“Clouds II”

October… already???

October 3, 2010

Most people would lament the ending of Summer, but I’m quite happy for it to be over.  Summer is the least interesting season here in Santa Barbara and I’m glad to see it go.  I did get in a bunch of traveling over the summer, and hope to post some images that haven’t already made it to Flickr.

The first weekend of October has been a Jekyll & Hyde affair.  We have had crazy weather since the middle of last week, with large thunderstorms over the mountains and gorgeous clouds floating by overhead.  Not to mention, the bolts of lightning dancing across the mountain tops.  This is not something we normally see here.  The interesting weather abruptly ended sometime last night, with the return of the marine layer which has yet to burn off today.

“Ground Fog at Sunrise”

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Incredible Encounter

July 11, 2010

We had an interesting encounter with one of the bobcats a few days ago.  I spotted the young female walking through some brush, so we circled around and waited for her to appear on the opposite side.

We made it over just in time for her to appear moments later.  She took a casual look at us and proceeded to walk away before dashing into the brush after something.  We didn’t want to get any closer since she was obviously hunting, and I decided to shoot some video with my DSLR in case she came out with a rabbit or gopher.  Well she did come back out but we couldn’t tell what the heck she had caught.  She was very energetically batting it around and it appeared to keep changing shapes.  It wasn’t until we got home that we discovered that she had “caught” a snake!

I say “caught”, because after batting it around a bit she all of a sudden started trotting our way very quickly.  The snake was a Kingsnake, which is not venomous but it will mimic the rattle of a rattlesnake by vibrating its tail against dry brush.  It’s possible that the snake did this and successfully scared her away.  In any case, whatever happened was far more frightening than heading towards two people.  She actually got within a few feet of us before walking down another trail where she proceeded to stalk a rabbit.  In the photo below, you can see that she is still listening for the snake as she heads our way.

Favorites from February 2010

March 14, 2010

While doing some digital organizing, I realized that I have only posted a small fraction of my favorite images from last month.  The bulk of my time was spent searching for the local bobcats.  Day-by-day, they have become more difficult to find and with warm weather in the forecast I think they will become far less active during the day.  Thankfully the warm weather should really kickstart the wildflowers and I hope to get out to as many of the hotspots as possible this season.

“Young Male Bobcat at Dusk”  –  Goleta, CA

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Of Birthdays and Bobcats

February 22, 2010

Two of the local bobcats were kind enough to make a rare appearance on my birthday last week.  We were thrilled to find the young female and upon review of my images, it was clear that she was spending most of her time marking her territory.  I’m wondering how her mother feels about her daughter laying claim to the same area.  Based on published research, this is very early for a female to be marking like this.  I think this young one has grand aspirations.

Later, we saw both young bobcats together.  The young female disappeared but her brother calmly laid beneath some brush before coming out to watch us.  Once he got bored with that, he spent some time grooming, gave himself a good scratch and walked away.  All in all, it was a great day!

“Young Female Bobcat”

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