Saturday, December 21, 2013

Solstice Sunrise

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I went back to East Peak to re-shoot the sunrise that I had problems with last week and ended up with the same lens flare problems all over again. I'd blamed the graduated neutral density filters, but the flare occurred even when I didn't use them. Curious. It only happened with the 16-35mm. The photo above was made with a 50mm. 

After another lucky morning of the ranger opening the Pantoll gate a few minutes early, I drove up to the empty parking lot at the end of the road and once again hiked up to the base of the fire look-out where I was surprised to find a group of young photographers who'd hiked up from Mountain Home Inn.

I guess a couple other photographers drove up, but I never saw them. Only one of the two cars was still in the lot when I got back to the Jeep. I caught up to the second car a short ways down the mountain. It was upside-down along the side of the road. No one was hurt, and the same ranger who'd opened the gate earlier was already on the scene. That's only the second auto accident I've seen on Mt. Tam, and the other one was also a rollover. In neither accident was it immediately apparent how they could have lost it so badly.

As I continued down the hill I was passed by a fire engine heading up toward the accident, and then below Rock Spring I encountered a group of dancing turkeys.

A couple of Sheriff's patrol cars also passed by, and finally a CHP cruiser. I kept expecting a tow truck but got all the way down the hill without seeing one. The fire engine didn't stay long, and they startled the turkeys as they came back down and around a bend. The females fluttered down the hill, and the males in this photo are calling to them to come back up to the dancing grounds.

Despite the poor showing of rainfall this year, the hills are starting to green up, and I saw another coyote while I was scanning the terrain for bobcats. When I saw the turkeys doing their mating display -- another sign of the season -- I felt like things might not be great on the mountain, but life is going on.

In addition to fanning their tail feathers, the toms' displays also include brushing the ground with their wings as they strut forward, and sometimes they utter a deep thumping sound, or boom, at the end of the strut. Meanwhile, the hens move about and forage, pretending to disdain the toms, but you know they're taking note of who the cutest gobblers are.

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