A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Red-tailed Hawk

 This handsome fellow and I had fun along the fog shrouded peninsula road of
Point Reyes National Seashore.
He would be perched on a fence pole...

I would get a picture then he would fly off...
and land again two fence poles further down the road.
I'd creep up slowly in the car, take a picture and off he would fly again, two poles down the road.
We kept this up for a quarter of a mile or so until he located another fence line further away from the road and me, and there we ended our little game.

These pictures all were very muddy with the poor lighting due to the thick fog. I am very surprised how much my photo program was able to clean them up, providing some clarity.
All pictures were shot with a 70-300mm VR Nikon lens set at 300mm.

For more birds on World Bird Wednesday go to Pine River Review

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Historic H Ranch, Point Reyes CA.

Early settlers in the 1850's recognized the opportunity to raise dairy cattle on the Point Reyes peninsula with it's cool moist climate providing rich grazing lands all year long. But the Franciscan missionaries were the first to introduce feral cattle to this area in 1817. Today Marin Sun Farms raises grass-fed, hormone/antibiotic-free stock on 3,500 acres of mostly certified organic pasture.

There were several working dairy farms of the historic H ranch within the Point Reyes National Seashore and this barn, no longer used, stood out on the furthest reaches of the peninsula north of the San Francisco Golden Gate. This remote end is designated for the Tule Elk who live here thus the dairy cattle are excluded yet the barn and ranch house still remain.

It was a dreary foggy day out along the coast. Converting the first photo into black and white brought out messiness in the sky not visible in the color photo. I couldn't figure out what it was or how to fix it, but being determined to have in it black and white, here it is. 
For more better (like that?) barn photos, click on Bluff Area Daily

Monday, August 29, 2011

This Old Crow

Really he was a raven but Old Crow has a better sound to it. As often as we see crows and ravens about, it isn't until you have camera in hand and want to get a picture of them that you realize, they really do not want to be any closer to you than is necessary. This raggedy old fellow confirmed that for me. It was a foggy, poopy day out on along the coast which really messed with the exposure setting of a pitch black bird against the bright gray skies. Later when I looked over my photos of him before he flew off, the best of the lot...he had his eye closed. After a few shots, that was it and he took off.
I've learned to hold the shutter button down and rapid fire off a series of shots when birds get pissed off at me and fly away. Usually one or two come out fairly well. I used to just put the camera down and watch them fly away grumbling to myself, but no more. Fire away!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sinbad Sunday

Sunday is a day of rest for Sinbad. Well...everyday is a day of rest for him really.
This is how you do it.

First you select your spot, someplace soft with the sun to your back.

Next, a bit of yoga to relax the body.

Then relax and let sleep take over.

Have a nice Sunday.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Irene

I've been following the progress of Hurricane Irene up the east coast of the states and as with other major events with Nature, I always wonder how do the little creatures we enjoy taking pictures of, how do they make it through such disasters?
Or do they?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pretty Amazing

This little bee, or fly, not sure which, was doing this strange little dance in the middle of the trail. He'd land in the dirt and shimmy about, shaking his little beehind, but not really accomplishing anything in the process. I don't know what the purpose any of this was.

This shot was taken about 6 feet away, using a monopod with my Nikon 70-300 VR zoom lens cranked up to 300mm.

Now here is a similar shot, same distance and settings but I cropped the image,
enlarging the image many times over.

Now that I think, is the pretty amazing part.

Judging by the first two comments, I am thinking what I was amazed about wasn't too clear. It wasn't the fact about the bug dancing about, it was the performance of the lens being able to produce this good of an image  from such a distance away and being enlarged to the degree that it was.
I wasn't using a macro lens 12 inches away. Instead a 300mm 6 feet away from a bee-sized fly.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Return to Dragonfly Lake

Back at the lake where I had good luck with dragonflies before, I was fortunate to have this different species of dragonfly land and pose for me. I learned from another blogger about their habit of usually returning to the same spot to rest, resuming their watch or doing whatever it is they do when not flying. True to form, he always returned to this reed after chasing away another dragonfly, and perched himself on the tip.
Here he is after another landing offering a slightly different angle to the sun which was behind him. There was no way I could get myself behind him in order to get a shot of the topside of his wings. Well maybe I could have if I wanted to tromp around in the reeds through the water. I would probably sink down in the muck up to my knees only to find myself two feet shorter and still beneath him. Plus the prospect of hiking back two and half miles to the car wet and muddy was not that appealing just for a dragonfly photo.
A Mountain Lion photo yes, dragonfly no.

Incidentally the lake isn't called Dragonfly Lake. I just had to have some sort of title for this post.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

California Towhee

This is another one of those birds I have long taken for granted and is very nondescript. A dull drab dusky brown bird with no remarkable features. Yet once I began to understand what is normal run-of-the-mill for me, can be quite unusual to those in other parts of the country and the world. In fact this fellow is only found down along the Pacific coast region of California and Baja Mexico, plus one small spot in southwest Oregon.
Of all the birds that frequent our yard, the Towhee is always underfoot, almost literally. They are the most tolerant of having people around and will continue with their shuffling about and scratching in the leaf litter with their feet until you are almost on top of them. That is until you have a camera in hand, of course.
So there you have it, the camera shy California Towhee.

For more birds on World Bird Wednesday, click on Pine River Review

Catalytic Popcorn

I was driving along last week, having a grand old time when an engine warning light lit up on the dash. Great! I dropped by my local mechanic (the cars these days prevent me from doing any work on my own vehicles anymore other than changing oil and putting air in the tires) and he reset the light. He said sometimes these things come on on their own accord but if it does come on again, I'd be looking at having the catalytic converter replaced. Wonderful. All was well and good for a week and bingo, the light came on again. So it was off to a muffler shop. What an irritation. I have better things to do. I wandered around while they worked on it. Normally I avoid waiting rooms but this one was empty so I stepped inside. And what did I see?

Free Popcorn!

Hey, this is alright.

Job done and I was out of there in less than 30 minutes with my $358 bag of popcorn. It was a good day.
Sorry, but I didn't take a picture of the inside of the popcorn machine. I ate the last of the popcorn except for the unpopped and burnt kernels. It was okay though in case someone else stopped by. There were two donuts left over from the morning.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Artifical Dew

When conditions are dry like they are, so much so you don't even get any morning dew, go outside and turn on the water sprinklers for a few minutes.


For more Macro Monday photos check out Lisa's Chaos


I was in the park and happened upon a group playing a game I was unfamiliar with. I talked with a lady that was playing who educated me on the game. It is French in origin and much like Bocci Ball (Italian) and Lawn Bowling (English). She said this was much more informal than the other two. They are much more sticklers in Bocci Ball regarding rules and such, and don't even think about stepping onto the court in that game. Lawn Bowling is quiet and subdued, you can walk on the grass but there is a dress code - one must dress all in white much like they do in Cricket. In Petanque everyone was dressed as they wished, walked all over the court and didn't really want to bother with a measuring device to see who was actually closer to the mark. They just eye-balled it and agreed. Imagine that happening with a bunch of Italians playing Bocci Ball. She said they did have a tape measure but no one wanted to look for it.
So they toss the little red ball out there then proceed taking turns rolling their baseball size metal balls to see how close to the red ball you got. Each person has two balls and you have a team of two or three on each side. The ball closest to the red ball gets a point. If the next closest ball is a teammate, then that team is awarded two points. But if the next closest ball belongs to the other team, no other points are given and only that first single point ball is counted. She said the highest she's seen is three points at one time. You play until 13 is reached.
Well, that seems easy enough. Maybe a bit too easy at least for me at this stage in my life. I need a little bit more action but at least I have something to look forward to in my later years.
Just in case you were wondering, the court was really hard packed, and the presence of leaves and twigs on the court wasn't an issue. The Brits would never stand for that in Lawn Bowling. They were lobbing these hollow metal balls (around 1.5 pounds) out there, landing with a resounding thud and hardly a dent appeared on the surface of the court. Each pair balls had a different pattern of colored lines etched into them so as to keep track which belonged to who. A few of the players had a two foot long cord with a strong magnet attached to the end. This allowed them to retrieve their balls without exerting any extra effort in bending over, so very French.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Apples or Cellphones

On a hike yesterday I took off cross country through the tall dried grasses staying away from the well-used trails. There in the middle of a large meadow, upon a bare outcropping of rock I found what is definitely Mountain Lion scat.  I see a lot of other scat but here for sure this was Mountain Lion. I thought it interesting that he/she chose the bare rock to do their business rather than in the dirt like a regular domestic cat would, or even just in the grass itself.

For size reference I placed my cellphone alongside. I couldn't think of anything else to use and I wasn't about to set my apple next to it.
Would you?

I long for the day to actually see the cat. Even just a Bobcat I would be happy.
Now I am wondering if that may have been Bobcat scat. I so want to believe Mountain Lion.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Out To Lunch

The other day we went out to do something which turned into a story itself that may never get told, but in the end we had a nice lunch at a new (to us) place called Bruno's on Fourth. The owner's name is Bruno and the little restaurant is situated on 4th street. Unfortunately I didn't have the presence of mind to take a picture of the front. Let's just say, I didn't want to stand out in traffic to snap a shot.

They had a nice selection of wines to choose from.

Fortunately for me, they had a nice selection of beers also. This is my IPA which as you can see I was well in to before I pulled out my little point and click. For those of you new to my blog, I am not fond of wine.

I really liked the custom made tables created from old wine crates.

I had a Reuben on marbled rye,

and my wife a chicken Caesar, one of their specials for the day.
 Those fries may look like your standard old French fry but they were anything but that. Seasoned with garlic, herbs and other spices, what we couldn't eat we asked to take home with us. It's not a common practice to take your left over French fries home, but evidently here at Bruno's it is. Katie, our waitress, told us that customers always do and suggested to not re-heat them in a microwave. Instead use a toaster oven and they will be ideal. They were. 

Overall it was an excellent dining experience. We now have a new great place to go for a nice meal.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Not a Bee Fly

The other day, I referred to the lucky insect that freed himself from the spider's web as a bee fly. Well it really wasn't a bee fly but for the practical purpose of the blog post, that was good enough. It was a fly of some sort, that hovered about much like a bee, and therein lies it real name the "Common Hover Fly". They do not land that often but I was lucky enough to catch this one fellow taking a breather.

Most of the time they were darting about, having their little dogfights in the air, playing catch me if you can, or just plain hovering, seeing what I was all about. It was fun and challenging trying to get a shot of them doing just that.

Here is a Blue Bottle Fly, which is a common blow-fly.

"Blow-fly". So what exactly does the term blow-fly mean I wondered. Well here you are courtesy of Wikipedia: The name blow-fly comes from an older English term for meat that had eggs laid on it, which was said to be fly blown. The first known association of the term "blow" with flies appears in the plays of William Shakespeare: Love's Labour's Lost, The Tempest, and Antony and Cleopatra.

Well how about that. This has been a life-long affliction of mine going back to when I was a young lad. I'd look up something in my encyclopedias and would always become derailed reading about one thing, which led onto another, then another, and so on and so on for hours.
Now with the Internet I am able to get even further off track a helluva a lot faster.