Friday, September 25, 2009

Last view of the Pacific

make sure to click for bigger on all these, especially the little crab

If you read my other blog, you already know that this whole California thing isn't working out for me. I haven't been able to find work, and time (aka money) has run out. It's been a fun adventure (despite the constant stress of looking for work, money, bills, etc.), and I've seen a lot of new birds (22 lifers since leaving PA), but it's time to pack it in. California has always been my dream, but it's just not a good time for dreaming, I guess. I'll be moving back to Texas for a while to live with my parents (or perhaps my sister), which will be nice. I haven't seen my parents more than a handful of times in the last seven or eight years, so I'm looking forward to spending some time with them. My mom loves to go birding, and San Antonio should yield some amazing birding, especially during the migration, so watch for some exciting posts in the coming weeks. I'll also be driving down through the Central Valley of CA, through Arizona and New Mexico, and a long way across Texas, so I'm hoping to see some raptors and things along the way.

Today, I felt like I should see the Pacific one more time before I go, so I went down to Muir Beach near Muir Woods. I was tempted to do both, but I didn't have a lot of time so I chose the beach. I had been reading about tidal pools and the wealth of life one can find in them, and I'd read that Muir Beach and nearby Slide Ranch were two good places to go.

It turned out to be one of those occasions where the expectations way outdo the reality; that seems to be the theme these days. I'd seen pictures of starfish, urchins, live "eccentric" sand dollars, sea slugs, etc. in my Audubon California guide, but that's not what I saw at Muir or at Slide. Maybe it's the wrong time of year, but I saw only limpets, snails,seaweed, and such. It's possible that we're too far north here for the good stuff.

Still--it was beautiful out there among the rocks. Some highlights:
Muir Beach

a young gull -- Ring-billed?



I don't know what this green rock is, but I like it. Serpentinite?


After a few hours at Muir, I went north about a mile or two to Slide Ranch. Here, the cliffs were a little daunting but I was all over those rocks like a little mountain goat! (a little mountain goat with weak ankles, a banged-up knee, puny muscles, and a tendency to fall down a lot, that is--but I only fell once!)


That handrail and a rope (starts where the handrail ends) are pretty much the only reason I made it down (and back up) alive.

I knew the tide was going out all afternoon, and low tide was supposed to be around 7:30, so there was a little beach when I first got there around 6pm.
The "sand" was more like little crushed rock, blackish gray.
Here, you can see some of that tidal pool life -- snails.More of those purplish round snail things -- Periwinkle? Dogwinkle? They were round, though--not long and conchy like the periwinkle and dogwinkle things in my book. But they have this pretty little abalone-like pearlized bit right at the center of their little spirally shell. Very pretty.



I started to notice, as I watched all these individual gulls who would just land on a rock and stare out at the water, that a lot of them had pink legs and feet -- Herring Gulls?
I'd only seen one Herring Gull before (assuming these are more of them), back in Cape May 2007. It was interesting to watch them as they gazed out at the water; one of them tried perching on a low rock and perhaps trying to find a meal splashing by, but the water was too rough for him and he gave up.

And hey, I managed to get this terrible picture of a couple of Black Oystercatchers:


I couldn't believe it, but this Black Phoebe was down on the beach with me, hawking for insects then coming right back to its perch:I never imagined a little flycatcher would be down there, but he was. This is definitely the same bird Matty Boy and I saw in Oakland, and I'm positive (gulp--I hope) that it's a Black Phoebe. Look at this funny little pic:That's some attitude!

I also saw these guys near the parking lot at Slide Ranch--are they House Finches or Purple Finches? They look too plump and small to be House Finches, but I could of course be wrong:

For a brief moment, I thought I had something exotic like a Pine Grosbeak, but you can see the little finch bill on that guy on the left in the first picture. Let me see if I have a better one... this one's brighter but not much better.

This little guy was peaking out at me; some kind of hermit crab? A big one?

Look at all the little barnacles and limpets and tiny snails on this one rock. Which reminds me: I really your help to learn more about cameras so I can deal with the horrible backlighting (glow) issue that results from taking pics on foggy/cloudy days. It's distracting. I'd like to be able to capture some features of the sky behind things, but the auto setting certainly doesn't always work, and I don't know enough about all those manual settings. F stop? Aperture? (that doesn't seem right) Exposure? I don't know. Suggestions?

After getting back up the cliff:

21 comments:

Fran said...

Oh Delia. *sigh*

Do what you must, just don't stop dreaming. Dreams can change, amend, evolve - but don't stop, that is the key.

Something awaits you!

These are beautiful shots.

Sorry we keep missing each other. I will try again. (((Delia)))

Matty Boy said...

Nice pictures, Delia. There's still a week left in the month, so we live in hope.

bunnygirl said...

I'm sorry things didn't work out. When the economy improves, you can try again. Everything I've been reading says California has been hit pretty hard by the recession. Texas is feeling it to, but not so bad. We're still hiring at University of Houston.

You'll have some good birding opportunities along your drive. My father lives just south of Albuquerque and has compiled a list of over 50 different birds he's seen on his property alone. There's also a bird refuge near where he lives, although not much was happening there when I last visited it. Wrong time of year to catch the migration patterns, I guess, but if you have time for things of that nature, let me know and I'll look up the info about it in case you want to stop and check it out.

Elizabeth said...

I'm sorry it didn't work out. CA is a very tough place to live financially.

I think you're right about the Herring Gull, but I'm very bad with gulls. We have many gulls with pink legs (Glaucous, Western, Thayer) but your gull has a longer head than those guys.

You're totally right about the black phoebe. I saw my first a couple months back in Pescadero and now I'm seeing them everywhere. Congrats on getting the front of him too. It took me three different occasions before one would face me directly.

John said...

Sorry that California didn't work out. Maybe you can try again in the future. At least you can enjoy it while you're there, and the drive through the Southwest ought to be exciting.

Regarding the backlighting... You can control that somewhat by shooting in manual mode and setting exposures yourself. Aperture and shutter speed both influence how much light hits the sensor. In both cases smaller numbers let in more light. I usually play around with the exposure settings until I get the result I want.

You can also avoid backlighting by trying to position yourself so that source of light isn't directly behind your subject, but that's not always possible. If the source of light is behind your subject, you can try using the flash to brighten the subject while using a faster shutter speed to darken the background.

Susan Gets Native said...

Sweetheart.
I love you.
If you need places to think about....
I know Ohio isn't glamorous, but at least I am here.

And Kathi...and Nina...and Bill...and Julie...

dguzman said...

Fran-glad we got to talk finally! And thanks for the encouragement.

Matty Boy--well...

Bunnygirl--It's gonna be a fast drive, but you can bet I'll be watching the skies.

Elizabeth--it's tough out here, but I still feel like this journey isn't over yet.

John--thank you for the info--I'll play around with it!

Susan--Ohio's on the short list for the future, baby. Love you too!

Beth said...

I'm sorry your dreams weren't fulfilled this time around. But don't give up-life is too short for give-ups. And you are too tenacious, too gutsy, too brave to retreat in silence.

You always have a home wherever the Flock is.

Beth
xoxoxo

NCmountainwoman said...

Lovely and poignant farewell to the Pacific. You did the right thing by going to CA even if things didn't work out.

We will continue to follow you via your blog no matter where you go and we will keep positive thoughts for your bright future.

Rabbits' Guy said...

Oh dear ... that's too bad about Ca. ... but up here we don't hear any good things at all about the economic situation in that state.

Good luck in Texas!

dguzman said...

Beth--sniffle! Thanks!

NCMtnWoman--thank you so much. I'll have plenty to bird and blog about in Texas, especially during the migration!

Rabbits' Guy--yeah, it's much worse than I could've imagined.

KGMom said...

Delia--I just have a hunch you'll be back. (Oh, sorry--that't the governor's line...)
Anyway, someone who such a passion for living and learning as you will eventually find or make your way. You will go where you want to go, be what you want to be...

dguzman said...

KGMom--thank you for those kind words, Donna!

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