My spouse, Jerry, drove our party of four up scenic Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica to Santa Barbara, about a two hour journey.
The Natural History Museum is a delightful collection of Spanish Tiled buildings on a lovely stream-side setting, in the shadow of the Santa Barbara Mission.
I was inspired by Victoria Morrow's photos from the exhibit, "Butterflies Alive." She captured butterflies on beautiful flowers, in a fantastic garden setting. Quite different than my memories of the Los Angeles butterfly exhibit of many years ago; I recall chrysalis hanging on coat hangers in a tool shed atmosphere, fitting for LA; not much green.
Upon our approach to the pavilion, we were greeted by a nice young lady sitting at a display table with a Tupperware container of caterpillars and a small tree branch with chrysalis attached. We were all schooled in butterfly etiquette prior to entering: Don't touch the butterflies, watch where you step as they sometimes land on the ground, don't pick the flowers.
I had the new 80-D and W9's spare SX-60. I loved the vivid setting with the parrot icon on my old SX-50. Well, that's gone. Instead it has a HDR vivid art setting. The camera fires off 3 quick shots and combines them inside camera. The shutter speed is slow. The buffering is painfully even slower. Most shots had unacceptable blur. But the colors were crazy just how I like them.
Exiting the pavilion you are inspected for any hitchhiking stray flutterbys. You step into an anteroom with a mirror and a few butterfly nets on standby.
It was time for a quick break. We cobbled together what little we had brought in the way of consumables. A modern day "Stone Soup." We packed a couple of beers and bottled water but not much food.
Poor Dave ( Camp David Dave, our friend and neighbor) is tall and very active. He has the metabolism of a hummingbird. The rest of us stemmed our hunger with 1/4 of a chicken wrap and a bit of tuna salad eaten without utensils. Dave was ready to fashion some chopsticks from some twigs.
After the break W9 and I went back into the butterfly pavilion where I snapped at a little creepy kid who was about to molest a swallowtail. It wasn't wall-to wall children. There were also adult roadblocks. One clot of grownups spoke in Aussie accents about football statistics. They picked an unfortunate spot to drone on and on. You know how some people like to talk extra loud so that the nearby strangers don't miss a word? Well this group moved with me when I hit my limit and moved away.
Oh, and as W9 and I sat, another roadblock approached and took cellphone photos. I had already turned to shoot photos in a different direction when I hear a sharp intake of breath from W9. My initial thought was W9 is not afraid of bugs but she's wearing sandals so..... Roadblock had stepped on and squashed a Buckeye Butterfly. W9 witnessed a murder. So much for "Butterflies Alive" I guess.
Jerry and Dave appeared to round us up. A raptor event was underway outside. All the birds were rescues that could not be released for various reasons.
The Peregrine Falcon didn't have a "good side." She had one bum eye, a boo-boo on her beak, and a droopy wing. Not bad for a seven year old! All the birds were happy with their handlers who explained that they rotate which avian they care for so the birds don’t get particularly attached to one person. The handlers and birds were calm and encouraged us to move in closely. My shots looked fabulous in the viewfinder of the SX-60 however, later when viewed on the computer, not so much. Here is Lady Peregrine Falcon with a kite hanging from a tree in the background.
It was a 2 and 1/2 hour drive home, trudging through beach traffic, on a summer’s Sunday afternoon. Well worth the effort.
Tags: Butterflies Alive santa barbara natural history museum butterflies friendship canon Camaraderie SX-60 canon SX 60 art vivid crazy colors raptor raptor event museum monkey pekabo90401 southern california peregrine falcon falcon Falco peregrinus Duck Hawk Faucon pèlerin Halcón peregrino PEFA 2 hour scenic drive from Santa Monica eyes in the sky kisa
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Every day is different. The same location a day apart … hours apart, can hold excitement and perhaps sobering disappointment. A lovely nest we found the day before is gone. The parent perches nearby. The winds carried the nest away.
Or a gate that was open is now locked. A bird seen one day is elusive the next.
Our schedules change. Our priorities change. Our physical capabilities are challenged.
Just for the time we are bird watching, troubles seem to fade.
Having a few photos to capture the moment is not essential but a great way to connect with a community and invite conversation.
We knew about the Indigo Bunting ( 2 down and two from the left) because a flickr friend posted photos. This tree monkey was out there days before a note showed up on LACoBirds. This was a life bird for many of us. We used email and IM to pass the location intelligence and encouragement along.
Birds on the top row are Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Blue Grosbeak ( so pretty he gets represented twice), Say's Phoebe fledglings, Yellow Warbler, and Wrentit.
The second row has the Great Blue Heron, a Rough-winged Swallow, a Northern Mockingbird, and the Pepla-guy (Phainopepla) who is still in Los Liones Canyon. We thought they had left.
The third row has the gorgeous Lazuli Bunting.
This month I almost skipped doing a collage. The muggy June weather zaps my energy and I'd rather be out birding than cursing at a photo processing program. But it was a very fun month with spectacular highlights and punch in the guts lows. The highs, of course, include the Indigo Bunting as well as the Indigo's handsome cousin, the Lazuli. Baby season was a highlight unless you think about the poor Pacific Slope Flycatcher feeding the huge Cowbird baby. We were run out of the area around Wadsworth Theatre, a hummer haven, because we had cameras: “Photograph is verboten!” Oh well. We don't write the rules.
I've been told that Fall migration is already underway.... but I'm not so sure. I think July is going to be very slow but maybe there’ll be a surprise or two.
The fireworks are just about to start. Happy 4th of July.
Fingers crossed that everyone is safe.
Thank you all, my little flickr monkeys. It’s a journey.
Tags: southern california birds Bird watching Birdwatching Los Angeles canon Camaraderie friendship inceville pekabo90401 pacific palisades birds malibu birds malibu creek malibu creek state park indigo bunting Lazuli Bunting blue grosbeak rough winged swallow great blue heron Phainopepla Phainopepla nitens Bushtit Psaltriparus minimus hooded oriole Icterus cucullatus Oriole masqué Bolsero cuculado Bolsero encapuchado Calandria zapotera Jaranjero canon 80D 80D 100-400 new gear Passerina cyanea Passerin indigo Azulito Gorrión Ruicito canyon monkey Passerina caerulea Guiraca bleue Piquirgrueso azul collage lightroom collage lightroom Ruiz azul grande Passerina amoena Bruant azuré Gorrión cabeziazul Gorrión de cabeza azul northern mockingbird northern rough-winged swallow oriole Nanday Conure Nanday naturalized parrots los liones canyon magic bowl vance ave monkey life bird adventure Ballona Freshwater Marsh Ballona Mimus polyglottos Moqueur polyglotte centzontle jilguero ruiseñor Stelgidopteryx serripennis BLue-gray Gnatcatcher gnatcatcher oak titmouse house wren wren nest temescal canyon
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I wasn’t sure if Jerry had time but when I asked about going to Trippet Ranch I got no resistance.
With W9’s gear packed into our school bus/ gypsy caravan/ Toyota Highlander, off we go taking the winding and twisting road that is carved through Topanga Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains.
It’s a bit of a drive and the recent fires are fresh in our minds.
Parking is no problemo. We have a California State Park pass.
A cooler has been packed with sandwiches and Foster’s.
We start at a leisurely pace. W9 and I are hoping it will be birdy. This part of the trail is familiar. Eons ago we hiked many miles of the park’s trails including portions of the 55 mile Backbone trail.
A pretty Say’s Phoebe is hunting and returning to the rustic wooden fence with its insect prey. .... and that was just about when the bird action sputtered to a halt. Oh, no matter.... this is good. We are moving. It gets a bit tedious for Jerry to simply stand and watch us try for photos. Jerry will take us to places outside our comfort and distance zone and Jerry makes us laugh. It’s the give and take, and compromise. This is why I include camaraderie and friendship in my tags.
The trail is shaded by Sycamore trees in places. Not a straight path. It winds through ravines. We climb and descend. I need to tie my jacket around my waist and recall breakfast was a single hard-boiled egg eaten standing over the sink.
Jerry is leading our merry troop so we keep up the pace.
We come to a road where we find a nice leaking water fountain. There must be birds nearby. We can refill our water bottle. It looks like a great place to turn around and go back to the car for a picnic.
But on we trudge. No birds and lots of climbing. It crosses my mind that this trail will be tedious and slow going on the way back.
Too much time has passed since we regularly hiked this trail. Now a bit of anxiety is in the mix. We are not lost but if we needed medical care it wouldn't be quick or easy. There are a few sips of water left in the bottle. W9 and I decide we will save it to perform the Last Rites on Jerry. We continue our rocky journey.
Jerry says we are almost at a junction with a fire road. It’s too far and arduous to go back the way we came. I turn on my phone and google the Musch Trail. If we can make it to the fire road the way back will be much smoother. W9 and I decide we will sing hymns after the Last Rites.
A Flock of quail flush out from below us and fly up into a distant Toyon bush. The Fire Road comes into view.
The winter days are short and the shadows are growing in the canyon. Dead brown leaves scurry and swirl behind us.
Tags: trippet ranch birds trippet ranch topanga canyon California State Park southern california birds Bird watching Bird watching Los Angeles Friendship Canon Camaraderie 80D canon 80 D 100-400 pekabo90401 Wesen says phoebe phoebe Sayornis saya Moucherolle à ventre roux Papamoscas ilanero Flycatcher Canyon monkey 鳥 鸟 oiseau lind Fugl Vogel chim ibon avem manu πουλί پرنده Happy Fence Friday HFF птица นก fence Friday Fence monkey Lightroom santa monica mountains happy new year new year's eve quietest place in Los Angeles flight TLDR
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I hop into W9's car and off we go to a stakeout in nearby Pacific Palisades. It's the sort of neighborhood where people might emerge from their homes in evening gowns and tuxedos to be transported in stretch limousines to some Hollywood movie award event.
We have precise directions. Alejandra and Manuel are smiling and give us a warm welcome after we pull over and park. Another couple are there watching as well.
I am relieved to see that we have a team effort because it is unlikely that I will ever spot such a plain looking little bird without help. A little bird flies over our heads and lands on the lawn precisely where he was spotted a few days ago. This lawn monkey is moving from the shaded area farther away, hiding under the house hedges. This is private property and it looks like no one is home. We confine ourselves to the curb but the bird is just too far away. I can see my camera has maxed out with the highest ISO it can muster.
We introduce ourselves to the other birding couple. We recognize their names, Mary and Nick Freeman. They are local bird experts. Nick allows us a look through his spotting scope. And suddenly I can see this wonderfully different sparrow. I want to move in closer to improve my odds of getting a better shot but someone politely says "Wait...” so I do.
We are a clot of paparazzi standing in the road. Several cars stop as folks want to know what we are watching. I am having a really good time exchanging bird stories with my fellow birders. As we watch our odd little visitor, he begins to move a bit closer to us. I'm glad we didn't throw in the towel. 400 photos later, Mary and Nick ask us if we want to try for another rare bird, the Greater Pewee. The location isn't very far away but nobody walks in LA so we hop into our cars (portable bird blind) and head over a few streets.
A frog is croaking. He sounds close. W9 does a mean frog imitation and engages the frog in a conversation. I can see how impressed Mary is. Then she gives us her best Spotted Owl call.
"Plain in plumage but distinctive in habits, the Cassin's Sparrow inhabits arid grasslands in the south-central United States and northern Mexico." Allaboutboids. Not Baja Mexico, not California, not even close.
Tags: cassin's sparrow Rare bird pekabo90401 Pacific palisades birds southern california birds 80D canon 80 D 100-400 1.4 extender sparrow lawn monkey Wesen Lightroom Bird watching Bird watching Los Angeles Canon Camaraderie Friendship moineau spatz mus spurv passero chim se sẻ manu liilii σπουργίτης スズメ 참새 鳥 鸟 fugl lind oiseau ibon πουλί 새 avem manu پرنده chim นก птица Peucaea cassinii Bruant de Cassin Zacatonero de Cassin Go Dodgers! Hairdo feathers Lifer Life bird lifer bird TLDR
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We got a hot tip about the White-eyed Vireo. (Top row photo, next to the King of Snakes.) Drive here, park there, walk a block or two.... Ca-Ching! New bird! And for the brief time it commanded the limelight, we were all mesmerized.
A smallish clot of polite birders gathered off the path. Everyone watching. Vigilantly listening and waiting. We compare equipment and notes. Who has seen what and where they saw it. We are envious of the Orange County birders. We meet Gabriel, a Santa Monica College professor and a Herpetologist. His wife jogs by us with their new baby in a stroller. I like this Gabriel and a smidgen of hope swells in my heart. This new baby will grow up to be a gifted scientist.
homepage.smc.edu/gartner_gabriel/AboutMe.html (Guess who’s holding the snake?)
We all get a little punchy after explaining to person after person what we are looking for. People walk by with whatever the current version of a boom box is called. Loud-music-to-go because the world without continuous or constant noise is obviously unbearable.
We take turns ignoring people. We size up the curious folk before we talk. Carrying binoculars or a camera gets you in. Clownish loudly patterned yoga wear merits a dumb answer. "We are watching squirrels." Gabriel snorts but I know I could have been kinder. I make myself a promise to be less mean. Maybe Gabriel's child will develop a cure for meanness.
W9 and Jerry got the Chat as a life bird at Malibu Creek State Park. We were on the lookout for the chat after using the ebird Explore the Hot Spot tool. He put on a song and dance show for us. Thrilling, but be quick if you want a photo.
And have a gander at the red crustacean deal in the second row. How can you scream and focus a camera at the same time??? Asking for a friend.
The green landscape we experienced a few months ago is rapidly fading. Birds have disappeared. Migration and nesting. They have left or they're hiding.
Slowly my bird list is growing.
The original lists were probably carved in stone and represented longer periods of time. They contained things like "Get more clay. Make better oven." David Viscot
Die Liste der alten Leute war vermutlich in Stein gemeißelt und vertreten längere Zeiträume. Sie enthielten Dinge wie "Holen Sie sich mehr Lehm. Machen Sie besseren Ofen."
La liste des personnes anciennes était probablement sculptée en pierre et représentait des périodes plus longues. Ils contiennent des choses comme "Obtenez plus d'argile. Faites un meilleur four".
고대 사람들의 명단은 돌로 새겨 졌을 것이고 오랜 기간을 대표 할 것입니다. 그들은 "더 많은 찰흙을 얻으십시오. 더 나은 오븐을 만드십시오."
La lista de personas antiguas probablemente estaba tallada en piedra y representaba períodos de tiempo más largos. Contienen cosas como "Obtener más arcilla, hacer horno mejor".
Tags: ash-throated flycatcher mourning cloak butterfly king snake white-eyed vireo california scrub jay yucky red lobster thing from the marsh green heron barn swallow phainopepla lazuli bunting Spotted Towhee California Thrasher Yellow-breasted Chat Cabora Road Western Bluebird acorn woodpecker Lightroom collage pekabo90401 Los Liones Inceville Pacific palisades birds southern california birds Bird watching Bird watching Los Angeles friendship Canon Camaraderie 80D canon 80 D Canyon monkey california towhee malibu creek state park madrona marsh Ballona Freshwater Marsh Ballona South Coast Botanic Garden thistle george F. Canyon park Playa Vista MDR Lifer Life bird bird list phainopeplas are in Los Liones Canyon in June pepla guy Splash zone at the picnic table Chat room Is this a thistle? TLDR
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