Holler Lakes & Birds~

There are several lakes surrounding The Holler that provide wonderful places to hike, picnic and birdwatch.

This osprey was vigilant,

intently watching the lake for her next meal (despite the feather stuck on her beak.)

Bald eagles are congregating in greater numbers around Holler lakes,

which thrills me to no end, because they were almost wiped out locally, and I went decades without seeing them here.

Brewer’s Blackbirds are common at The Holler. They are very friendly birds and often eat out of my son’s hands.

Ring necked ducks were on the lake in force,

resting from migration.

The area around The Holler burned extensively in 2007, destroying 1000’s of homes and extensive habitat. You can see the progress of regrowth and the burned trees on the horizon.

Cheers to you from beautiful, burning, California, my native state~

270 thoughts on “Holler Lakes & Birds~

    1. Tack! Örnarna var praktiskt taget utdöda på detta område i många årtionden medan jag växte upp. Biologer uppfödde och återinförde dem och nu har vi blomstrande befolkningar som är en glädje att se.

  1. Once again you have brought sensational photos, dear Cindy. The osprey is a very proud animal. Great also the duck and the colors and of course the landscapes. 🙂
    Kind regards Alexander

  2. I took a picture of an osprey on our 30+ acre lake (in a tree). Unusual to see in our neck of the woods but oh so beautiful. Didn’t realize what I took until I blew the picture up. Doesn’t compare to your pictures but it was a special moment for us 🙂

  3. These images are gorgeous, Cindy, I especially love the osprey…so majestic.
    The holler is a magical place – makes me smile to think of you there.
    And I’m so worried over the misunderstandings around global warming and what it is doing to our world and all that inhabit it. Lives lost in California…tragic.

  4. Incredibly sharp and beautiful images, Cindy! Truly impressive especially the one of the bald eagle! Hopefully the fires we hear about will soon be extinguished. Have a great Sunday!

  5. Anonymous

    Gorgeous regal birds and so beautifully photographed Cindy. We are thinking of the beautiful state of California and the devastation is heartbreaking. Following everyday from here in Florida !

  6. Beautiful photos. I often get good shots of osprey, but rarely get a closeup of an eagle. Or ducks (other than mallards) as they are too leery of hunters around here to let humans close.

      1. Thank you, Cindy. Marian has had five good weeks since her surgery, eating more challenging foods each week. So far so good! She is greatly encouraged. She is also looking forward to our Feb cruise! Thanksgiving will bring both sons and wives out from NYC, and they will cook!! Blessings on your family gatherings.

  7. The birds are gorgeous. I’m very happy to see the area regrowing. Yes, California seems to be burning down. It appears to worsen annually… and then the mud slides. I’m no scientist, but I think I see the fingerprint of climate change on this situation.
    I was sent to do a meet and greet with Charles Bronson, years ago, when I was doing the costume designs for “Family of Cops III. He lived in Malibou. I was so impressed with the beauty and the vibe of the place. His ranch home was spectacular. I wonder if it’s still there?

    1. Yes, living all my life in one region allows one to observe the differences over time. California is drying up. There are still about 1000 people missing in NoCal which is devastating to even think of. I have been evacuated in fires like these and their power and speed, driven by Santa Ana winds is terrifying.

  8. Timothy Price

    Great bird photos. We were talking to a couple in the bosque last night about how we haven’t seen the bald eagles this year, but we have had a lot of osprey this year.

    We had devastating fires in New Mexico during many summers over the past 18 years. Fortunately, New Mexico is sparsely populated compared to California, so we have not had so many structures destroyed as in the California fires. However, Los Alamos lost most of their historic Manhattan Project housing in one of the controlled burns that got quickly out of control in 2000. Then another fire followed by flash floods took out the Dixon Apple orchards south of Los Alamos in 2011. Dixon had famous apples and had been in business for something like 75 years before the fire and flood. Most of the out of control fires out here were due to mismanagement of the forests, and the Forest Service trying to do controlled burns in dry, windy conditions — Like HELLO!

    There is a constant fight between people who don’t want any of the underbrush cut out of the bosque along the Rio Grande where we walk daily, and the need to have it selectively cut. Getting the right people to cut the underbrush here in Corrales has been an issue as well. If we allow the Conservancy to cut underbrush, they will clear cut everything, and if we leave the underbrush and it catches fire, a bosque fire spreads really fast because the underbrush is great tinder, and cottonwoods are soft and porous so they burn really fast and super hot. There has been recent efforts to have the boy scouts, fire crews and prisoners working to create fire breaks in the bosque without clear cutting, and leaving some areas with thick underbrush for the birds.

    1. I know New Mexico has issues with water too and there is rationing in some areas. Living in drought conditions is painful for those of us who love nature to see. The losses in these fires are going to be the most devastating yet for California. We face the same controversies you mention at The Holler. A bond passed recently to build another fire station. There was no funding in it for brush abatement, which made me almost want to not vote for it. There are so many orchards in The Holler that have been left to die because people cannot afford to irrigate them. They sit here like tinder waiting to explode. But, hey we will have a shiny new fire station. I hear, and relate, to your frustration. Huge amounts of effort need to be put into prevention.

  9. Gorgeous shots as usual, Cindy – of magnificent birds. The fires now are frightening, I often think of the horror people must fear if the fire comes closer. Poor families who have lost someone.

  10. Great photos. You are one of the best at shooting birds, in a nice way! My friends’ RSF home burned to the ground in that fire. They have since rebuilt.

    1. It is awful. Birds get confused by the smoke though. I do think the fires are why there are so many exotic ducks on local lakes. They are flying in confusion and land on available water.

    1. Thank you Linda. My daughter and her newborn preemie twins are in the smoke affected area, but so far no fires at The Holler, although lots of dry tinder and no rain in sight here. Rain is forecast for NorCal on Tuesday night which will be a Godsend.

    1. Yes we are. Thank you sweet friend. Although we are surrounded by many dead orchards, the effect of the seven year drought, with no rain forecasted. We are tinder waiting to burn. The temps are cool though and the santa ana winds have abated. SoCal is suffering from the drought, the animals, the trees and plants, it is heartbreaking to watch it dry up, Through most of my life, November was the time for the first heavy rains. Those days are no longer.

    1. Ospreys are amazing aren’t they. I see them at the oddest moments, in the oddest places, where they sit solitary, allowing me to photograph their amazing visages. The last one I photographed, just like this one, stayed briefly, allowed some clicks. That was in the southern most reaches of it’s territory, in far southern South America. Birds are phenomenal. They leave us scratching our heads on the surface of this earth.

  11. I was thinking it was time to look at your blog for a photo for the GreenFriends newsletter. I was riveted when I saw the big one of the bald eagle.You will see it soon! Thanks.

    1. Ahh, thank you Alison, for caring. We are safe, for now. Which is basically all anyone ever is. It seems like for California, especially SoCal, it is just a matter of when. We were evacuated in 2007. It is worse now. Everything is dry tinder around us. Temps are dropping and Santa Ana winds are abating which is good. Now is the time we should be getting consequential rain. But we aren’t. Haven’t now for seven years. NoCal will be probably getting rain Tuesday night, maybe 5″. This will help a lot, except for everything, and everyone, who is already gone.

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  13. Stay safe my friend, and happy Holler Days to you and yours.
    I actually saw a Toehee (type of larger sparrow) that I hadn’t seen or at least recognized before – last month.

    We had an early snow, yep a record breaker before Thanksgiving. Wish I could’ve put some on the burning parts of your state.

    I haven’t gotten any of my birds or squirrels to eat out of my hand yet. But at least they don’t seem to run as far when I come out to fill the feeder.

    Hugs, Jules

    1. We have towhees. They come quite close and are fun to watch as they spend a lot of time on the ground pecking and scratching. Happy Thanksgiving dear Jules and be well my friend <3

  14. Beautiful birds and how cool that the blackbirds will come so close. Hope your area remains fire-free now; California has faced so much devastation and it is heartbreaking.

  15. Sad about the fires you guys get. It never used to be like this, and I wonder if there isn’t some kind of preemptive forestry you can use. Wish we got more eagles in Boise. I see them about once per year, but we have ospreys every day.

  16. Anonymous

    Such beautiful birds and good to see some conservation success. There is certainly a worry for us about living in the woods but the fire plans often seem to not serve the interests of indigenous plants and habitats. Often difficult choices and my thoughts and prayers are with you all in California.

    1. We are fine. Thank you Charles. Rain is coming to NoCal, lots of it. So the inferno will be extinguished, and only the irreplaceable loss will remain. The rain will even wash away the smoke, so my daughters newborn preemie twins who live there will be able to breathe easier. I live in SoCal, we will be brushed by the remnant spit of NoCal’s rain, barely a trace, not even close to enough to stop SoCal from drying and dying. If we don’t get substantial rain this season, it will be our eighth year of drought.

  17. What lovely shots and the burned landscape is haunting…on our spring road trip up country here in British Columbia we noticed blackened hills from a devastating fire in 2003…my heart goes out to Paradise, California as we grapple with a new reality, fire season!

  18. Superb images of the birds, but sad to see the Californian landscape burning on our ‘overseas’ TV news channel. At least you have some lakes for the birds to escape to in bad times.

    Your area looks so dry even so.

    I guess it’s all a reminder of our own bushfire season to come in a couple of months here in Australia.

    1. Yes, Oz and Cali have lots of common. I was in Melbourne for the terrible fire. I remember the shelter in place people, and the rescued koalas with burned feet. Exotic birds are coming to The Holler lakes, escaping the fire and smoke I expect. Maybe they will make it permanent. Some of the lakes are clean and lovely.

  19. Beautiful pics especially of the bald eagle. So sad about the fire they’ve had out there. I remember the bad ones that came too close to our mountain property when we had ours in Glacier View Meadows northwest of Fort Collins, Co. Takes many years to regain the beauty back & never comes back the same way again. Have a blessed & wonderful Thanksgiving Cindy. Hugs to you.

    1. Es tut mir so leid, von Ihrem Herzinfarkt zu hören. Ich bin froh, dass Sie zu Hause sind und wünsche Ihnen viel Ruhe, Entspannung und Erholung. Meine Gedanken und Gebete sind bei dir. <3

  20. As the poet Howard Nemerov said to one of my teacher friends who, trying to make polite conversation at parents night with the father of one of his students, asked if he lived in The Heights (A neighborhood around Washington U. called University Heights because it was on a hill)– Mr. Nemerov answered without missing a beat, “Yes, and sometimes in the depths.”

    But I think you are most of the time in the heights, at least as far as natural beauty and neighborly creatures goes. Thanks for inviting us for this little visit. Wonderfull photographs. Majestic birds!

    1. Thank you so very much more for Nemerov’s quote which is so freaking brilliant, and humble, at the same time. He lives in the heights, and the depths too. He “gets” life.
      Reminds me of Irene Nemerovski.

      1. I hadn’t known about Irene Nemerovski until now (just did a search). What a strong person. Talk about depths! I plan to read more about, and maybe by her.

        Yet another giving of thanks! It just keeps on going, and giving.

  21. Those birds all look like they mean business. So serious looking. We were too dry as well but finally, finally have rain. I’m worried about all of California too. There seems no relief in sight. It’s the animals that worry me most. It’s not like they can hit the highway to better grounds. Hope you had a wonderfilled Thanksgiving.

  22. Beautiful and wonderful homeland. So peaceful. Superb photos. Fires are certainly devastating but I’m glad the environment responds positively. My prayers go out to the people of California. I hope and pray the fires subside now and that the mudslides do not present further complications.

  23. That eagle photo!! Magnificent! And the countryside all around looks beautiful– a lot more green than where we are his week up in Ojai– similar terrain, but a lot less green. Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving Cindy. xox

    1. You are in Ojai!
      I think, sometimes, of moving there.
      I know the love you generate, will keep coming back to you, as it should.
      You make me feel, like people are right in the world.
      Love to you Rhonda.

      1. HI Cindy– so kind and encouraging. We love Ojai– So close to the coast, but it seems a world away nestled in that little valley. Our son & family live there, so we are up pretty often. When the light comes across the hills in the the late afternoon, it’s magical! take care friend! xo

  24. So wonderful to see these exquisite photos, Cindy. There’s a theme of healing here with the fire recovery as well as the eagle recovery. I am happy to know your bald eagle population are increasing. Love the ring-necked ducks in the dazzling water photos. And wow–that close-up of the bald eagle is stunning.

    1. There was no replanting in the extensive burned areas around where we live. Mother Nature is doing it all herself. Pine cones split and are often activated by fire. Even acorns, if they don’t get too charred, will sprout and root. The ash makes the soil nutrient rich. All the seedlings need is rain, which is in the forecast for Thursday! Hooray!


    Ce jour
    je regarde le ciel et je pense
    je m’évade et m’envole dans le plus grand silence
    voir un monde meilleur
    Je rêve, je m’imagine que le bonheur est
    sans challenge,ni concurrence,ni vainqueur,ni vaincu
    Voir tout le monde avec le sourire
    Regarder les enfants , courir , sauter , s’amuser ,

    en cette période de Noel tout est beau


    Aimer toujours aimer quoi de plus beau
    sans le dire on peut le montrer , quel joli cadeau
    Je passe te souhaiter une bonne de journée ou soirée
    Gros bisous . Bernard

  26. All gorgeous and full of life! We watched in horror for weeks about the fires consuming California. My heart aches for those in the path of the beast. It’s awesome that you have some lakes and ponds in the Holler where wide life can find refuge. We must do better to help this poor planet survive. xk

    1. We must do better indeed. It is a horrible to watch our planet and her creatures be abused and neglected. I share your concerns and appreciate your caring. Be well my friend <3

  27. Bonjour ou bonsoir mon Amie CINDY

    Un petit mot de tous les jours
    Ça va, merci!!
    C’est une marque de confiance , que je t’adresse
    Avec du soleil en abondance ou une nuit remplit de sommeil
    Pour moi
    Ces petits gestes viennent du cœur
    Je te fais aussi un clin d’œil que je puisse te faire sourire
    C’est une bonne recette du bonheur
    Gros bisous Bernard

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