Archives

Local Feathers~

Stellar Jays live in the pine forests in Southern California’s mountains.

Oregon Dark Eyed Juncos are local birds and are related to sparrows.

Burrowing Owls are “a species of special concern,” in Southern California, where much of their natural habitat has been destroyed by development. Petitions are being submitted to the state to change their status to endangered.

This handsome jay was hanging out on a picnic table, waiting for a handout.

So, of course, I gave him one!

Juncos are quite tiny, and rather shy, so they are hard for me to photograph. This guy was unusually cooperative!

Burrowing owls nest underground to hide from raptors and raise their young. People and organizations all over California are setting up underground Burrowing Owl boxes to help shelter and protect these adorable owls. It is a rare thrill to see them out of the boxes curious about the human who is photographing them! These guys were being sheltered by The Big Bear Zoo & Rehabilitation Center.

Cheers to you from a few of our local feathers~

Red Shafted Flicker~

The Northern Flicker is a type of woodpecker.

In the western US, Flickers have red cheeks and tail feathers, but in the east they have yellow accents.

This guy was so relaxed around me, he started snoozing while I was photographing him,

and then hopped over for a closer look!

I photographed him in The San Bernardino Mountains, near Big Bear Lake California.


These photos were taken before the region was hit with five major storms, leaving several feet of snow and alleviating the drought.

Cheers To you from snowy & birdie, Southern California~

Peeps~

Peeps are the world’s tiniest Sandpipers.

They weigh 3/4 of an ounce and stand just a couple inches tall.

They run speedily along the beach like frenetic tiny housekeepers, catching all sorts of little crabs to eat.

Here they are politely sharing a sandcrab lunch!

You can see how tiny they are in comparison to a Western Gull and a Godwit Sandpiper.

These peeps are Western Sandpipers.

They winter along the California coast and breed in Alaska and Siberia.

These constantly busy little birds are super entertaining to watch.

Cheers to you from California’s winter peeps~

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve~

The Big Morongo Canyon Preserve is a verdant oasis in Southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains.

The 31,000 acre canyon is surrounded by desert,

and is one of California’s ten largest perennial oases.

The preserve is a riparian wilderness with Palm Trees, Cottonwood Trees and Willows, as well as a variety of native shrubs and flowers.

It is a critical wildlife corridor sheltering mountain lion, bighorn sheep, mule deer and bobcat.

It is also hosts up to 274 different varieties of birds during the spring and fall migrations.

The marsh like preserve is perpetually flowering even in late fall and winter.

Cheers to you from the happy wildlife at Big Morongo Canyon Preserve~

Hiking the Holler~

The Holler is surrounded by thousands of empty acres.

It has many oak groves, and permanent and seasonal creeks running through it.

900 of these acres are set aside as a permanent nature preserve, and many more 1000’s of acres are still free from human development.

There are no hiking trails or public access, but we live adjacent to the preserve and hike it several times a week.

The Holler was first settled in the 1890’s and consisted of 2,700 acres. It was a working ranch for much of its history. Crumbling fences and old ranch dirt roads remain. We hike the dirt roads, and game trails, which are everywhere.

This is the lower pasture below our house, and this is where we access the preserve.

Since people are not here, The Holler is full of wildlife and has an entirely different feel from hiking in parks that people frequent. This natural ecosystem is unique for over-developed Southern California.

We see oodles of tracks, coyotes, bobcat, cougar, raccoon, but no deer. There are no deer because there are too many predators for them to survive. There are lots of kill sites and bones scattered around, but I will spare you photos of these, even though I have them.

And of course there are hundreds of birds! Cheers to you from the still wild Holler~

Enraptured~

Elusive raptors,

rarely let you near.

When they do,

you are enraptured.

Melanistic red tail hawks have more melanin or pigment in their feathers than other hawks making them distinctive. It used to be thought these morphological distinctions were an isolated variant, but now scientists are noticing behavioral differences associated with the changes in feather color.

Melanistic hawks typically let me get much closer than other hawks and I wonder if this might be due to behavioral differences associated with their color variance. After all, it is often true, those who are different, are also braver!

Cheers to you from the brave and different hawks~

Romance & Fine Dining~

Spending the holidays with family in Santa Cruz California,

and spied this young egret on Christmas Day.

He had romance on his mind,

but his timing was all wrong.

He expected affection,

prior to,

fine dining!

Live and learn.

He got the dinner,

but not the date!

Cheers to you from sunny Santa Cruz~