Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Birding at San Pablo Bay

 When we go to the San Francisco area I like to stop at one of the California DFG wildlife viewing sites along San Pablo bay.  I never know what I might see.
It was a windy day and the viewing an photography were difficult.  I did see several Canvas Backs bobbing in the water.
I believe this is a female lesser scaup.
These Sanderlings were hunkered down in the marsh grasses, avoiding the wind I would guess.
As usual, feel free to correct me if I am wrong on my IDs.
San Pablo Bay is north and adjacent to the San Francisco Bay.  A nice route for the birder as there are several places to pull off the road and check out the birds.

Hang Loose?
Back home I finally saw the crests on the Double Crested Cormorant.  I was beginning to wonder about the name!

And a Marsh Wren stayed in sight long enough for me to snap a picture.  I hear them frequently but they are shy and hide in the cattails.

You can find more birds at World Bird Wednesday, hosted by Springman.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Gardens of Filoli

We finally had a chance to visit Filoli, a country estate built south of San Francisco in 1914.
I first became aware of Filoli when we visited the Empire Mine, the subject of an earlier post.
The house was commisioned by William Bourn who had made his fortune from the Empire mine.
After the death of the Bourns the property was sold to Mr. & Mrs. William Roth who continued to lavish loving care on the gardens.
The house and gardens were given to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1975.
Professional staff, interns and an army of volunteers work to keep the garden a showplace for all to enjoy.

I wished we had been there a few weeks later when the wisteria that drapes the portico will be in bloom.

But then this beautiful magnolia might not have been in bloom if we had come later.

The entrance was graced by pots of fragrant blooms.  I'll leave the interior of the house for a later post.

The formal gardens are divided into many garden rooms.  I think this Sunken Garden was my favorite.
Looking across the Sunken Garden, one sees the Garden House, beyond it is the Walled Garden.

Along the wall of the Walled Garden is a row of  London Plane trees, pruned back to knobs (pollarded).

Inside the Garden House were more fragrant flowers.  I wonder what flowers will be there later, when the bulbs are done
In the Walled Garden.
Another view of the Walled Garden, this spot is called the Wedding Place.  I do not recall if it was the Bourn daughter or the Roth daughter that was married here.

There is a lot of work to keep up these gardens.  All of the trees and shrubs require care and pruning.

Now I'm wondering, what will it look like next month, the month after.  I guess we will just have to return and see.
This is one view of our wonderful world, to see others visit That's Our World, Tuesday, hosted for us by 
Arija, Gattina, Lady Fi, Sylvia and Sandy.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Reflecting the Sun

From our family room we noticed this reflection of the setting sun in the windows of a house across the way.

You can find more interesting reflections at Weekend Reflections, hosted by James.

Monday, March 19, 2012

My Wet World

After a few early storms last fall, California has seen little rain.  A chart of the water content in the Sierra snow pack has been very like that of the exceptional drought of 1976-77.
Things are looking up, though.

A week of rain, over three inches in my yard, and several feet of snow in the Sierra.

It is far less than what we need but with more in the forecast we have hope.
California has some of the nations most productive farmland.  On the back roads of California's central valley one sees mile after mile of orchards, vineyards, corn, rice, tomatoes and cotton.  Farmers have been wondering just how much their water allotment will be cut,  will they have enough water to grow a crop?  This is not dry-land farming, with no summer rains California depends on the Sierra snow pack for water.
For those of us not in agriculture, our big worry is the fire danger brought on by drought.
So we listen avidly to the weather forecast and watch the sky, hoping for at least six more inches of precipitation.

That's the news from my part of our world, to see other views, go to That's Our World, Tuesday, hosted for us by Arija, Gattina, Lady Fi, Sylvia and Sandy.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring in My World

It's Spring, that magic time in the garden and so I've been spending more time at home and less time traveling and taking pictures.
The bulbs are up, undeterred by the dry winter.  Tulips, muscari and daffodils grace my garden.
The wisteria is will soon burst into bloom with its heavenly fragrance and cascade of blooms.
The peach and nectarine trees are in bloom and for the first time the winter nellis pear is blooming.  Unfortunately, its companion the comice pear is not in bloom so I have been roaming the neighbor hood, snipping some blooms from the many ornamental pears in hopes of successfully hand pollinating.  The apricots, early bloomers, already have little fruitlets developing.
I've been carefully tending tomato, pepper and eggplant seedlings, keeping them on a heating mat in the house and putting them outside on warm, sunny days.  Some of the tomatos will soon be ready to plant in the garden (if the weather cooperates) but peppers and eggplants started at the same time still don't have their first true leaves.  A week of much needed rain is in the forecast so perhaps I'll be in at my computer again instead of out playing in the dirt.  But then, maybe I'll be stuck with my nose in the seed catalogs or gardening books.

This is what is happening in my world, to see other parts of the world go to That's Our World, Tuesday, hosted for us by Arija, Gattina, Lady Fi, Sylvia and Sandy.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Winter Birds in Yosemite

I didn't expect to see much birdlife on our Winter trip to Yosemite.
Crows of course are always around.
Can you find the little American Dipper?  I was surprised to see it in the cold water of the Merced River this time of year.

I have only caught glimpses of a pileated woodpecker in the past.  This guy was hard at work, drilling a hole in a branch.  He paid us no attention.  Not a great shot but since it is my first of this species, I'll keep it until I can get a better one.

I though I was photographing a group of Mallards in the river.  There were Mallards but I didn't realize that some were Wood Ducks until I downloaded the images.  I also had a brief view of a rock wren and other birds were twittering out of view.  I have never found Yosemite to be a great birding spot so I was pleased to see what I did.

See what birds others are finding at World Bird Wednesday, hosted for us by Springman.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

What a Difference a Day (or Two) Makes

Each year we try to take a Winter trip to Yosemite.  Since the reservations are made far in advance we never know what the weather will be like.  This year we had quite a variety during our three day visit.  I found I had taken similar shots on different days so I paired some of them to show the contrast.
Monday was cold with blowing clouds and a few snow flurries.
Tuesday was beautiful and mostly sunny.  After a morning walk up to Mirror Lake we drove to Tunnel View in the Afternoon.  We were just in time to catch a bit of a rainbow on the distant Bridal Veil Falls.
Wednesday was a different story, we awoke to a Winter Wonderland.
The cliffs and waterfalls had faded behind a curtain of white.

This is what I saw in our world last week, to see what others saw visit Our World, Tuesday, hosted for us by     Arija, Gattina, Lady Fi, Sylvia and Sandy.