Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Monterey Harbor, Fisherman's Wharf

In 1870 the Pacific Coast Steamship Company constructed a wharf at Monterey for regular passenger and freight service, with ships arriving four times weekly. Growth of the sardine industry and the need to keep the Wharf in better repair prompted the City Council to assume ownership of the pier in 1913. (At some time during this period it became known as "Fisherman's Wharf")  Early history taken from the Fisherman's Wharf web site.

The Wharf has seen a lot of changes since that time. Yesterday was another gorgeous day on the California Central Coast. We went out just after sunrise while the Harbor was coming alive for the day. The vendors were busy replenishing the popular restaurants on Fisherman's Wharf. There were a few other early risers on the wharf taking in the scene. Early morning is a special time of the day, many miss it.

All shots yesterday were taken with a Nikon D90 with a Nikon 80-400 zoom lens, 1/500 shutter speed, ISO fixed at 200, variable aperture.

First I saw a pair of Brown Pelicans sunning themselves in an out-of-the-way spot likely after spending an undisturbed night. They took off as I got this shot - beginning their day. You can tell this one had his eye on me. Note the band on his right leg.

Not far away near the mooring slips for the Whale Watch boats I spotted this Sea Otter Mom and her Pup cruising into the protected harbor. They were rolling and cavorting constantly.


I then walked to the Coast Guard Pier where two Coast Guard crews were readying their craft for the day's sea duty. And a perfect day it was with calm seas, bright sun and no wind. This Harbor Seal cruised by with only a passing glance.

On an isolated rock nearby this gull was preening in the sun - getting the flight feathers ready for the day of foraging for the next meal. It is always fascinating to observe the daily morning routine of our wildlife neighbors - they can't close the bathroom door.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Odello Marsh, Carmel River, California

The Carmel River mouth area is one of Monterey County's prime birding locations. It is best known for vagrant birds during the fall (primarily eastern warblers) but a wide variety of common and rare ducks, shorebirds, and gulls have appeared.
The Odello family gave up their lease following the 1995 floods and the Odello Marsh area is now being restored to wetland and riparian ecosystems. (from Monterey County sources)

Today was a crisp sunny winter day with clear skies as we began our walk along a newly cleared path, well away from the Carmel River. The many deer were very cautious as we arrived but quickly scattered into the dense underbrush. These bucks were on their way to cover, never to be seen again.

All the shots below were taken with the Nikon D7K camera with a 300mm telephoto lens and a 1.7 Tele Extender. Shot at 1/1000, variable ISO on a monopod.

Along this path we saw several Lesser Goldfinches enjoying the morning sun and feeding on tender sprouting leaves.

We also spotted this bird, were unsure initially but now have had expert advice, it is - for sure - an American Goldfinch. The Lesser and American's were feeding  in the same area. This is a good lesson learned, Thanks Brian.

At the Odello Lagoon area we saw many Buffleheads feeding - beautiful birds.

Further along the trail we were fortunate to see and record these American Pipits. There were a few feeding together.


Song Sparrows were also feeding and enjoying the sun. There were also several active Black Phoebes in the area.

An American Kestrel arrived and started hunting with the expected hovering and darting for prey. This one stayed in the area several minutes but wasn't successful while we watched.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Monarch Grove Sanctuary on a Warm Winter Day

Arriving in October, the Monarch Butterflies cluster together on the pines and eucalyptus trees of the Sanctuary. Their migration to Pacific Grove, CA is so unique and inspiring that Pacific Grove is nicknamed "Butterfly Town, U.S.A." The community has always welcomed the butterflies and sought for their protection. Citizens of Pacific Grove voted to create an additional tax to create the Monarch Grove Sanctuary, led by dedicated volunteers. 

Today the volunteers were out with their spotting scopes and we got the shots below with a Nikon D90 , 80-400mm lens and shooting at 1/2000. Still Monarch don't pose but do catch the light when they lite momentarily.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Along the Rec Trail, Pacific Grove, CA

January 18, 2011    Lover's Point Area, Pacific Grove, CA

Today I found a flock of Black Turnstones working the low tide kelp covered rocks, I got fairly close , concealed myself behind a large rock and waited for the flock to come to me. This shot was a particularly nice pose with a good eye highlight. No post processing.

January 19, 2011   Pacific Grove Neighbors Yard

Spring comes early to the Monterey Peninsula. The bushes all over Town are bursting into bloom. These shots were taken with Nikon D40, 16-85mm lens with a black background held behind the blossoms.

It is a most welcome sight to see the flowers come to life.

 This one looks quite like a cherry blossom.
And this one is just an attractive mixture of colors.

January 20, 2011    Along the Rec Trail in Pacific Grove, CA

Spring flowers along the path overlooking Monterey Bay. Shot with the Nikon D40, 16-85mm lens

The ever-present Back Oyster Catchers patrol the rocks as well as the sandy shoreline. This one found a tasty morsel in the sand. We see Oyster Catchers almost every day, usually in pairs.

Then some target practice at Point Pinos.

And the Point Pinos Lighthouse, The Oldest Continuously-Operating Lighthouse on the West Coast.
Since February 1, 1855, its beacon has flashed nightly as a guide and warning to shipping off the rocky California coast. Alcatraz Island Lighthouse preceded Point Pinos by 8 months, but was replaced in 1909 by the expanding military prison.