Thursday, September 1, 2022

Clearing the Fog


Black Mountain with Clearing Fog

I'm pretty sure the last time I drove out to Pt. Reyes, there was no vineyard going right up to the fence along Lucas Valley Road at Skywalker Ranch. I was also surprised to see how lush and green the vineyard's leaves were. When I was ready to head home later on I hoped to find more surprises by taking Sir Francis Drake since I hadn't been that way in a long time either, but the harsh light in the redwoods along Lagunitas Creek, plus the vehicle traffic and road construction, put a damper on the anticipated magic. Had there been a little less hustle and bustle I'd like to have pulled over at the Farm Stand at Forest Knolls since that was the one new thing of interest I noticed along the route.

I'd initially been hoping to find some shorebirds to photograph, so my first stop of the morning was Drake's Beach. The fog was thick and the wind was blowing stiff and cold. I'd worn shorts, figuring I'd soon be enjoying the heat wave, but I'd at least had enough sense to bring a longjohn top, a windbreaker and a knit watch cap. 

I needed them all as I started walking east up the beach. There was no pool of water on the beach in front of the parking lot, and the rocky reefs were still covered with sand. I guess the new lagoon (so new it doesn't show up yet on the Google Maps satellite view) impounds all the fresh water draining from the hills. The shorebird action looked pretty sparse, so I let myself be drawn in by a few cheerful patches of purple sand verbena dancing in the wind. 

After snapping a few frames of the wildflowers I turned to the west and ambled over toward a mixed group of gulls, but there just wasn't enough interest in the scene to take any pictures. It was peaceful out there with small waves breaking on the nearly deserted beach, the bluffs rolling off into the fog-shrouded distance, and a wide expanse of Drake's Bay to ease the soul. It was a lovely morning for a walk (the bluffs blocked most of the wind), but I decided to leave and try for some photographic inspiration over at Abbott's Lagoon.

Even before I got out of my car at Abbott's Lagoon I caught sight of a small, dark critter bounding across the field off in the distance. I grabbed my binoculars, but I believe the critter ducked into a burrow (whose dirt mound I could see) before I could get a good look at it. What that critter was, I have no idea. It looked more like an otter than anything else I could think of, but it made no sense to see one so far from water. 

A car pulled into the spot next to me, and as the guy got out he said to his wife, "It doesn't look like the fog's going to burn off, does it?" "Nope." They went for a walk. I got out of the car and photographed a California quail on a lichen-crusted fence post, partly in the hope that I might spot a bobcat if I just kept my eyes peeled for a little while. The quail eventually peeled off his perch to join the rest of his gang gleaning seeds and clickety-clacking in the dry grass and brush at his feet, and that was my cue to peel off and check out Limantour Beach. I made a brief stop at White House Pool on the way, photographing Black Mountain as the morning's fog burned off.

Although it was sunny all the way out Limantour Road, the beach itself was still in fog, so I pulled over at the Limantour Estero vista point which, for a long time now, has not had a vista of Limantour Estero. The viewshed has been overtaken by forest. Nevertheless, hearing elk bugling in the distance made the stop worthwhile.

I parked at the east lot at Limantour and walked down to the beach. The same few gulls were massed off to the right and the left, at least until dog-walkers chased off the group on the right. The dog, Bruno, was an inquisitive and friendly, four-month-old, gangly-legged hound whose owner hoped it would be good for hunting turkey and deer. I watched a few pelicans fly by, as well as a tern or two, then decided to head back to the car and have a leisurely drive home.

Sand Verbena Meadow

Verbena Close-up

Quail on the Fence

View from Lagunitas Creek

View of Limantour Estero, Sort Of

Limantour Beach

Brown Pelican Fly-by

View Over Drake's Bay Toward Chimney Rock

Bluffs Southeast of Coast Camp

Doe and Fawn Emerging from Marsh

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