Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Cold & Dry


A Bobcat emerges from the chain ferns surrounding a mostly dry creek bed.

My habit has been to ride up to Mt. Tam every other Thursday to check on my trail cameras, but with rain in the forecast I figured I'd go up earlier this week. Monday was still too windy, and Tuesday was almost too cold. I had to do a bit of self-cajoling to actually roll out the door, but as usual I was glad to be outdoors on such a beautiful day. 

The ride was fairly uneventful: uncrowded bridge crossing, greater yellowlegs and black-necked stilts probing the mud at low tide, light vehicle traffic, still-blooming weird azaleas, the squirrel carcass was gone, a couple of awesome road-bikers passed me on my e-bike while going uphill (a remarkable feat that has happened only twice before), still-blooming California fuchsia, and dry brown hillsides.

I moved the trail cameras back to the pool, which was covered with powder down left behind by bathing band-tailed pigeons. I'm hoping to capture something interesting before and after the coming rain. Hopefully we'll get enough rain to finally get the creeks going.

Second frame of bobcat capture (video below)

Crop of the previous frame.

Gray Fox

Buck with skinny antlers.

Dual-frame overlay of passing coyote.

The new GardePro camera has a "no glow" flash for night photography, and the animals (including this coyote) really don't react to it. The Foxelli "low glow" camera sometimes mesmerizes animals to the point where a 10-second video shows nothing but the animal staring at the lights. The downside to "no glow" is the flat light.

Tam Cam Video Clips

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Saturday, November 26, 2022

Point Reyes in November Past


Sunrise at Point Reyes

I've been too lazy to go out and get any new shots, so this is Point Reyes in November of years past.

Bluffs at Chimney Rock

Pacific Edge at Dawn

Lagunitas Creek

Surf Fishing at North Beach

Marbled Godwit at Drake's Beach

Roadside Cleaning Crew

Dewy Morning in Bear Valley

Handsome Coyote #1

Handsome Coyote #2

Remembering Fallow Deer

Remembering the Wittenberg Trail

Galerina in the Moss

Pelicans in the Dunes

Mt. Vision View

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Tuesday, November 22, 2022



Waning Crescent Moon Above San Francisco

When I got into bed last night I figured if I happened to wake up in time, I'd go out onto the Golden Gate Bridge to photograph the crescent moon rising above the city. Then I thought better of that half-hearted plan and set my alarm for 4 a.m., only to wake up at about 3:30 anyway. Plenty of time to make some oatmeal and drink a cup of coffee before heading out for the 5:33 moonrise.

I'm so used to biking to the bridge, I almost forgot the most direct route to drive there. Other than a couple of cop cars, mine was the only car in the lot when I arrived, and even the cop cars had left by the time I got back. I walked out around 15 minutes after the gate opened at 5 a.m. to allow pedestrians and cyclists onto the bridge. There are crisis counseling signs everywhere, and I got checked out--by a guy on the bridge and from a boat on the water--to make sure I wasn't planning to jump. 

As soon as I set up my camera I realized I was going to be contending with wind-shake, bridge vibrations from passing traffic, and a bit of atmospheric disturbance, all of which would compromise the sharpness of any photos. The shot above was the best of the bunch, and a couple of them were downright blurry. As I was waiting for the moon to rise, I took in the Big Dipper and Orion, and when I turned my back to the wind I saw a cruise ship about to enter the bay, so I photographed it with a slightly long exposure since sharpness was not an option anyway.

A while ago I posted a shot of a nearby neighborhood intersection from 1928 to compare it with today. The owner of the house with the big pines in the "today" shot recently had all his trees removed. I documented the loss with my smartphone during the ten days or so it took to do the job.

Ship Passing In the Night

Neighborhood Tree Removal

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Friday, November 18, 2022



Acorn Woodpecker

As I biked across the Golden Gate Bridge there were very few tourists afoot, as I would expect for this time of year, but I was surprised to encounter so few cyclists riding the other way. It was a beautiful Thursday morning and not particularly cold, but I practically had the whole span to myself. On the north side I was pleasantly surprised to see unusually large flocks of pelicans and cormorants resting on the  calm water's surface in front of Fort Baker. They were  all gone by the time I rode back that way in the afternoon.

The ride up the mountain was uneventful until I noticed that those crazy western azaleas had a few blossoms on them again. Their leaves were all autumn shades of red and yellow, yet a couple of them had fresh white flowers at the tips of their highest branches.

Farther up the road, between Bootjack and Pantoll, I passed a squirrel that had recently been hit by a car in the downhill lane. Since I had a safe place to pull over and there was very little traffic, I went to move it off the road so scavengers could feed on the carcass without themselves being endangered. When I reached the squirrel I was struck by the bright red stream of fresh blood that had flowed from its wound. Even more poignant were the broken pieces of a peppernut on either side of its head. 

The sun angle was noticeably lower when I reached the Pantoll Road vista point I often stop at, and the first blades of green grass were infiltrating the brown hillsides of Bolinas Ridge. I locked my bike at Rock Spring and hiked out to my trail cams, and was disappointed to find the creekbeds still quiet. There were more or less continuous pools of water in some stretches, but the water wasn't flowing. 

Near the Rock Spring tank, the dead Douglas firs that had been marked with yellow ribbons (see photo near the bottom of this post) had recently been cut down. The sound of chainsaws buzzed in the distance. I heard water running in the little well-like spring next to the trail and went to investigate. Sure enough, water was pouring gently from a pipe onto a bed of watercress. Suddenly I felt something like a tick crawling on my leg, and when I looked down to flick it off I saw what I thought was a ladybug. I had to put on my reading glasses to be sure, and when I did I saw that the ground was crawling with many other ladybugs. Had they been nestled in holes or beneath the bark of one of the felled trees? Some of them congregated on nearby plants and fallen branches, but for the most part they seemed to be milling about very loosely. I wish I could have been there early this morning to see if they had formed a larger aggregation like this in order to stay warm.

An acorn woodpecker takes stock of its pantry.

Cut trees near Rock Spring.

A quick count of the rings showed this section to be about my age -- over 60 anyway.

A small aggregation of ladybugs.

Buck deer at stream crossing.

Two of three raccoons that foraged along the creek after some rain put more water in it.

A gray fox stops to smell something of interest.

This is a combination of two frames from the GardePro cam, showing how fast the coyote moved through the frame. The cam is set to snap two stills and a video, but the coyote was well out of the frame by the time the video started.

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Thursday, November 10, 2022

Like Old Friends


Baying at the Moon (California Bay, that is)
(click images to view larger)

One of the best things about getting to Mt. Tam early in the morning is hearing coyotes baying at the moon, and whatever else they like to bay and howl at. At one point I was concentrating on a close-up scene on the forest floor when a surprisingly nearby coyote began to howl, raising the hair on the back of my neck. Such an eerie, plaintive, and primal sound.

I drove up again today instead of riding my bike because I wanted to poke around on the mountain with my Nikon. Doing so was like hanging out with old friends. I got my knees muddy shooting close-ups and felt the bite of a frosty morning. I enjoyed watching the birds come to life in the bright, warm sunshine. I closed my eyes and inhaled the signature scent of a redwood forest.

I was surprised that our recent rainfall has still failed to fill the creek beds. I'd been confident that I'd get to hear the season-opening song of water running down Cataract Creek, but I guess the forest has been drinking up all the rain. Well, at least we're getting some other signs of change: the moss is greening up; the madrone berries are ripening; and the first LBMs (little brown mushrooms) are sprouting. 

California Towhee

Spotted Towhee in Coyote Brush

Towhee Appears to Yell at a Squirrel

Doug Fir and Sinking Moon

Acorn Woodpecker

Frosty Swirl

Cold & Prickly

Warm & Soft

Madrone & Moss

Just the Moss

Dyer's Polypore

LBMs with Moss & Lichen

Robins and band-tailed pigeons were feeding high in the madrone, causing a steady rain of berry pieces. I wondered how they extracted the seeds with just their beaks as a tool, but then it struck me: tongues.

Bay Laurel Nuts Breaking Out of Their Jackets

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Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Rain Remnants


Rain Gone By

Thunder Heading East

Blue Horizons

Island View

Hang Gliders

Beaks to the Wind

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