Friday, December 27, 2013

If you are birding in San Francisco...(#269-272)

Perhaps this will seem a little off topic, since all of Ontario is a-frenzy with snowy owls. If you are fortunate enough to see one, enjoy! (at distance, of course!)

But today I'm going somewhere a little farther south, a little warmer, a little foggier, a little more coastal, and a lot more west!

I've had a little bit of time to catch my breath and time to catch up with myself. So while this post is not just about San Francisco, it's the only clever title I could come up with today.

From Vegas through Death Valley, Yosemite, San Francisco, sleepy beach towns and endless coast to Portland, Seattle and onward, I'm going to try really hard to keep the details of this three-week epic adventure to those relevant to the subject at hand.

The journey begins in Yosemite National Park (well, technically it starts at a seedy casino off the strip where we doubled our money at a blackjack table, but that's another story and this blog entry begins at Yosemite). Turns out the only bird picture I had is a bird I've already seen but it still quite a treat for a non-west coaster.
Steller's Jay. Remember the story about Steller?

However, there was so much about Yosemite that I'm sure my readers will appreciate. Like squirrels. Especially squirrels sticking their tongues out!
California ground squirrel
I thought there was something funny about the squirrels! I felt so absurd taking pictures of squirrels, because I see tourists doing it all the time at home and I always laugh at them. Anyways, they have a faint band of white near their neck and are sport of spotted. Plus their tails are not so bushy. And they are cheeky cheeky things!

And slightly more exciting and also slightly larger are bears. Which it turns out, I am a little less afraid of than I thought. Not afraid enough, anyway, not to take a selfie of myself with one.

We arrived at night in the dark, and when I stepped out of the cabin in the morning, I realized, oh my god, there are mountains all around me. I don't know at what point of the journey we sort of got used to everything being so damn breathtaking.
Half dome in the background. That's another hike for another day when we have more time!

I can easily recommend this hike in Yosemite. 4.8 km, not bad right? This was a trail that is pretty much uphill the whole way--1000ft up. There were people stopped on the side of the trail panting, sweating, even crying. I don't know but I didn't think it was that hard...I guess we have done much more intense elevation changes...with way heavier packs...anyways....
Vernal Falls.
The mountains were fabulous but we had an itinerary and it was time to move. Later that day we pushed right across the map to Frisco, which provided a surprising number of life birds when I wasn't really looking for them, right at fisherman's wharf.
Best catches in the bay

Gulls are my least favourite birds to identify  (something tells me it's not just me....). At least I'm starting to get better and recognize when something is just a bit off. Or in the case of this first gull, quite a bit off.

Like, this one is so sooty it looks like it was hanging out in someone's chimney. And that bright orange bill. Can't miss it. Just hanging out on some dude's car. 

#269: Heerman's Gull; San Francisco, August 2013

How have I not counted a Western Gull yet? I swear I've seen these, or at least something that looks an awful lot like one. Anyways, hey there pink toes, strutting across the intersection like you are Paul McCartney or something.

#270: Western Gull; San Francisco, August 2013
Again, another life bird...hanging out in a planter in the middle of the sidewalk. Geez!! Quite certain I also saw these in Yosemite but couldn't get a clear shot.

#271: Brewer's Blackbird; San Francisco, August 2013
This next one looks a bit odd but I suppose it's somewhere between juvenile and adult. It's definitely a familiar one...
European starling.
Oh yeah. Funny story. Remember that time I wanted to go to Alcatraz so bad when we were in San Fran but it was sold out for like an eternity? Remember that time we got up at 4am to stand in line in the fog drips for *a chance* to get a ticket Alcatraz?

Well, it was worth it and not just because we scored a life bird.

#272: Brandt's cormorant;  San Francisco, August 2013

Notice the dude on the left, with the blue on the throat pouch.
These gulls were the biggest babies I have ever seen, totally whining for food when they are clearly just as big as their moms. I could make an analogy...but I won't go there.

The City by the Bay was a blast, but after a while you need to get away from the crowds and hug the curves of that beautiful coast. You need sand in your shoes. You need salty on your skin. You need a little more space. The adventure continues...

1 comment:

dwaynejava said...

Jenna, amazing posting. I really want to get out to Oregon in early summer this year. You have really had some amazing trips over the years. I dipped on Stellars Jay during my west-coast trip two years ago. What a beautiful bird!