Monday, February 27, 2012

Mammoth, SF Road Trip: Nerdy Birdy - Coyote Hills Regional Park

I only had about two and a half hours left of time before the sun went down. I pulled into my second stop for the day, Coyote Hills Regional Park, and what greeted me as I pulled in the drive was not what I expected. Seems like to get into Coyote Hills you have to drive through a Patterson Ranch, a ranch full of beautiful yellow flowers and new little baby sheep. I got distracted from my mission to find the birds and spend some time with the sheep. Mama sheep followed by the most adorable little baby sheep. SO CUTE!


I turned around the car and parked at the closest parking lot, got my gear together and scooted as fast as I could to the sheep. Of course the moment I walked up some ranch hands started herding the sheep together I was frantically snapping photos thinking that they were being taken to the barn for the night. I was pleasantly surprised that they were just moving them all across the street.


What I didn’t realize was that the confusion of the drive would shuffle the herd. When they finally settled on the other side of the road the bleating started; bleating on a massive scale.


Mama’s would call, babies would call and then in glee finally find each other. I left an hour later, there were still birds to take photos of after all and the park closed at sunset. Even though I sat there for an hour a few of the babies and mama’s were still looking for each other. I hope that they don’t move them often, how traumatic!


After getting into the sheep vortex I only had about an hour and a half left to spend at the park. So much to do so little time, but the light, the light was PERFECT! This park is pretty big, a large marsh, some coastline, some salt water ponds and some riparian habitat. There was no way I could explore it all so I spent most of my time in the fields and on the boardwalks. I will just have to go back to San Francisco another time to see the rest.


I love backlighting on a bird. It is a technically hard thing to do to get right. Although I am still working on the technical aspects of getting the shot I liked how this one turned out. There were BILLIONS of Song Sparrows; I really liked this one on the cattails.


Many birds were taking advantage of the water, the bugs and the marsh. I found a few Bluebirds and was super happy. Generally these guys are only seen in the mountains, so seeing them down in the lowlands here was a special treat. The male has such a rich blue color, offset by his rust colored breast he make a striking bird.


There were a ton of water birds hanging out but not many that were close or interesting. Many times I go out and see the same birds, although these guys are interesting to photograph its the newer or harder to find species that I try and focus on. With that being said some of the Northern Shoveler’s were watching me but feeding closer to the shore. When the sun peeked out and shone directly on one of the males I couldn’t resist snapping a few photos. I am glad I did, his ended up being one of my favorites of the day. Sometimes there is beautiful in the ordinary.


I was photoing another bird when I noticed a White-faced Ibis poking around in the reeds. He was perfectly camouflaged and if I hadn’t been standing right there i would have missed him. Sadly He was missing his “white” face because it isn’t quite breeding season.


The highlight of the day was the Northern Harrier’s. There were about four of them flying directly over a channel of water. The best part was they kept flying the same pattern, along the water, circle around repeat. The best scenario because then you could predict where the birds were going. Sadly the males were not playing with me, but I did get several glorious shots of the females.




paul peggy zeus said...

Oooooo, really nice pictures. Each one from the bluebird on, I kept saying thats my favorite, no I like the Shoveler, then the Ibis and the Harrier in flight. lol

lilmansworld said...

Don't. Ever. Stop. Doing. This. EVER!

Post a Comment