Saturday, January 22, 2022

Sunsets & Squirrels

Watching the Sunset

The workweek was done, the computer was off, and it was almost time for an Anchor Steam. But the view east from our bedroom window showed some promise for another gorgeous sunset. The clouds were wispy and wind-sculpted in the east, but when I looked out our front windows toward the west the sky appeared to be clear. I didn't see how it would be possible to have such a dramatically different sky from the two viewpoints and wished I could look straight up through the roof to see the dividing line.

Sunset Over the Sunset District

I realized the illusion of a clear western sky was most likely due to the way the light scattered in that direction, so I packed up my DSLR and, instead of the 16-35mm I took last time, I brought a 50mm lens. With Grandview Park just a 5-minute walk away I had plenty of time before the 5:22 p.m. sunset. I was surprised to see so many cars lined up at the base of the stairs. There was even a mini-traffic-jam with cars waiting for each other to parallel park on the sloping, curved street.

Good Ole Mt. Tam

I took the stairs two at a time, as I do every weekday on my morning walk to enjoy the pre-sunrise view. Going back up at sundown was a nice way to bookend the day. Along with the couple of dozen people already up there, I watched as the sun finally sank below the horizon. My phone said the time was 5:26 p.m., at least four minutes later than sunset at sea-level.

Mating Western Gray Squirrels

Meanwhile, one of my camera traps on Mt. Tam has been catching more mountain bike riders than bobcats, or even foxes. (In the two years I've been monitoring this spot I'd never before caught mountain bikers.) By far, though, it has been catching western gray squirrels, although usually just one at a time. I'd always assumed I was seeing the same squirrel every time, but now I realize that probably isn't the case.

Squirrel Festivities

This frame caught four squirrels, with the mating pair and two others zipping through. About the only other time I've seen more than one squirrel at a time on Mt. Tam, it's been around chinquapins when the nuts are ripe enough to eat. On Mt. Tam the chinquapins tend to grow in isolated pockets, so squirrels will congregate there, whereas acorns and bay nuts can be had all over the mountain.

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Friday, January 14, 2022

Spirit Realm


View Toward Mt. Tamalpais from Grandview Park

With some interesting cloud formations still holding up toward sunset I thought it might be worth walking over to Grandview Park to take in the show. I was also inspired by a recent post of a mesmerizing sunset by Jackie Sones over at The Natural History of Bodega Head.

I almost didn't go because sunset was going to be at 5:13 p.m., which is right about our usual dinner time. I was hungry, and so was my wife, who'd just gotten home from work. Part of me wanted to blow off the sunset and just get dinner started. I hemmed and hawed about what lens(es) to bring, whether I'd need my tripod, and whether I should drive or walk over, and so on. I finally decided to go, on foot and with just the 16-35mm lens, no tripod.

It's not like my life depended on having all my camera gear, and in fact I even took a few snaps with my phone so I could easily text the sunset back to my wife. The walk over to the park was pleasant, as usual, and several other folks were there to take in the day's transition into night. The height of Grandview Park, a knob of sand and chert we sometimes call Turtle Rock, is just a few hundred feet above the city below, but that's enough to get the magic of being a little closer to the heavens.

Color in the East, View Toward Downtown

Last Light Over the Sunset District

Moon & Clouds with Sutro Tower & Window Reflections

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