Saturday, December 26, 2009

The new baby

The newest addition to the Zoo - Kikuyu Colobus baby. Quite unexpected, it says on the sign, and there is a naming contest going on. All these things aside, just watching this little baby clinging to his mother, nursing and poking its head out with those huge eyes gazing at the world... so much fun!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The wonders of the Central Coast - A Merlin's Breakfast

This picture merits a separate post for two reasons. First, I like it a lot; in fact, I think it's the best picture we took this trip. (Roxy snapped it from the car window, so the credit goes to her.) Second, it's gory and not very appetizing, though true to nature, so if you are squeamish, don't look! On the other hand, if you like gory stuff, clicking on the photo will bring up the original size.

That being said, what we have here is a merlin enjoying an early morning meal near Highway 1 in San Simeon.

The wonders of the Central Coast - chapter 2

The Central Coast is a bird-watcher's paradise. I didn't say that, it's from one of those free brochures they give you at the hotels and tourist information centers. It's true, though. The lush vegetation and the varied habitats, from beaches and creeks to forests and meadows, with everything in between, all crowded along the 300-mile or so stretch of coast make for a dazzling variety.

So, even though our trip wasn't strictly a bird-watching one, we were lucky to see many beautiful birds, both familiar, and those we have never seen before.

Here are some of them, the ones we saw in Santa Barbara and around Santa Ynez valley.

This white-breasted nuthatch with a few of his buddies were making a racket in the trees by Santa Ynez Mission early in the morning. I snapped this one photo from the car window. By the time I parked and went back, they were gone!

Same time, same place - these birds looked and sounded a lot like woodpeckers from far away. The close-up revealed that they were, in fact, Red-naped sapsuckers, which is a kind of woodpecker.

Also in the mission garden, the bluebirds were stuffing themselves with berries (or was it fruit? it was high up in a tree - just don't ask me what kind of tree it was.)

It seemed every bird in that garden was busy with some sort of food... like this oh-so-common scrub jay...

or these common crows... or are they ravens?

The red-shouldered hawk was eyeing us from a pole in one of Santa-Barbara's residential neighborhoods.

The red-tailed hawk was less inquisitive - as soon as it saw us stop and point the camera, it just flew off.

This osprey - and a few more just like it - were patrolling the heights around Cachuma lake. The photo is taken from VERY far away, with a maximum zoom, so don't tell me it's bad, I know it!

A pelican-covered rock by Shell Beach - I am at loss to say how many birds were there, but thousands is not an exaggeration. Most of them were California Browns...

...looking at us down their noses...

A very common black phoebe at Pismo Beach. Did you know they feed entirely on flying insects, mostly flies?

This last photo is not so much about the bird (which is an acorn woodpecker) but the pole on which it sits. Or rather, what's left of it. Those round little things in the holes are acorns, in case you were wondering.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Guys will be guys...

African Wild Dog male was feeling rather well that October morning...

Sacred Ibis male knew it was spring and he must do something very special...

And the Madagascar Radiated Tortoise male was very busy one summer day...

Monday, December 14, 2009

The wonders of the Central Coast - chapter 1

Did you know monarch butterflies are capable of crossing the ocean? More often, though, they migrate up and down the coast here in the Americas.

Clusters of monarchs make a small eucalyptus grove at Pismo Beach their winter home. One by one they fly south from as far as Canada to seek shelter from the elements and land in the tall trees, forming shingles for further protection from rain and cold. Some of them don't make it, and we found quite a few of them "left behind" farther North.

Those that make it to the grove will remain there until spring, venturing out on warmer days to feed. In March, they will take off and fly North, though it will take a few generations to get there.

Read more about these amazing creatures here.

These photos are taken with an approximately 450mm-equivalent lens, some with a tripod, some without. And, it was windy. You may click on them to enlarge.