Thursday, February 28, 2013

Impressionist Reflections

We saw a great art show while in Yosemite--"Yosemite Renaissance"
 I was inspired to try something a bit different.
Soft light and ripples in the water allowed me to make some interesting, almost painterly, images of the reflections in the Merced River.  
Follow the link above to see what the creative artists of "Yosemite Renaissance" did last year in a variety of mediums.  If you find yourself in Yosemite between now and May 5, stop and see the current exhibit at the museum.  You might find yourself inspired as I did.

See more reflections at Weekend Reflections, hosted for us by James

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Alligator Pear

This California girl couldn't pass up a sign like this, seen on Highway 41 just east of Morro Bay.

Avocados are one of my favorite fruits but good ones are not easy to find. 
They are sometimes called "Alligator Pears" and like many true pears they ripen off the tree.  Perhaps some commercial growers pick them too early, before they are fully mature or they are improperly handled after picking.  Whatever the reason, the ones in the super market often lack flavor or show signs of rot.
They are picky about growing conditions, they don't like it too hot and are susceptible to freeze and frost damage.   Many of the trees we drove past showed such damage due to an unusual cold snap.  The coastal areas of California, south of Big Sur are the best growing areas.
Another interesting fact is why most cultivars are not self fruitful.  "A" cultivars open in the morning of the first day of bloom as female, close mid-day and open the next day in the afternoon as male.  "B" cultivars are female in the afternoon of the first day of bloom and male in the morning.  Thus they can not pollinate themselves

The avocado ranch had a little store with perfectly ripe and soon to ripen avocados.  They were delicious.  They also sold a variety of gourmet items such as avocado oil (it has a very high smoke point), balsamic vinegar, salsas, chips and dipping oil.  I bought a habanero  salsa that son Eric found to be adequately hot and quickly devoured.  I now have yet another reason to visit Morro Bay.

Linked to Signs, Signs, hosted for us by Lesley.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Limekiln State Park

While camping at Morro Bay we decided to drive up the coast and check out Limekiln State Park.  This was one of the parks slated to be closed until the state found funds to keep it open.
The park sits on the coast and features both ocean views and deep, shaded redwood groves.  There were also several hiking trails and we chose the short (1 mile each way) trail to the historic limekilns.
The trail follows a lovely creek which is crossed several times by nice, sturdy bridges.
 One of the kilns featured this impressive stone base while three others were just tall steal cylinders.

Limestone was packed into the kilns and smelted into powdered lime which was then shipped to be used in the making of cement.  The combination of limestone and abundant redwood to use as fuel made this a viable but short lived operation, the limestone ran out before the redwood.

There was another trail I wish we had been able to explore.  It went up to what I am told is a very lovely waterfall.  Unfortunately, there are several stream crossings and no bridges on that trail.  I didn't have time for what might have been a tricky and time consuming adventure.  Perhaps another time.
You can learn more about the park and the trail here.  For a map to its location, click here.
To see more of our amazing world, visit Our World, Tuesday.

Memo to self, don't link when tired

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Birding at Morro Bay

Morro Bay on the Central California Coast is a popular place to vacation for humans, birds and humans looking for birds.  With a nice State Park Campground with hook-ups it was perfect for us.

 The area has a variety of habitats which means there is a variety of bird life.
American Wigeon
In the grasslands of the estuary we saw Brants, American Wigeons and Great Blue Herons.
female Bufflehead
In the bay were Buffleheads, Loons, Greater Scaup, Ruddy Ducks, Pelicans, and a variety of grebes.
I find it hard to ID the grebes in there winter plumage, my guess would be an Eared Grebe.  I also saw pied-billed grebes.
Ruddy Duck
I love the way their little tails stick up.

American White Pelican
Greater Scaup
I'm sure there were many species out in the bay that escaped my view.
Brown Pelican
Other birds were spotted above the water like this Brown Pelican.
A squadron of Cormorants skimmed the water.
female Belted Kingfisher
Hubby spotted this Kingfisher watching for a meal from the mast of a sailboat.  Thanks Jules, my best kingfisher image yet.
Long Billed Curlew
Shorebirds hunted in the mudflats at low tide.  In addition to the Curlew I saw Egrets, Marbled Godwits and Willets.
Assorted Peeps
I was told that there were some redknots among the other peeps out at the water's edge.  They were too far to get a good shot.
Black Phoebe
Of course, there were passerines as well.  I heard but did not see a Great Horned Owl.
We saw a lot in our three days but there is a lot more to see, we need to go back.

See more of what our wonderful world has to offer at Our World, Tuesday, hosted by Arija, Gattina, Lady Fi, Sandy and Sylvia.
To see more birds from around the world, go to Wild Bird Wednesday, hosted by Stewart

Friday, February 8, 2013

Reflection at Morro Bay

No time to frame this shot as the killdeer took off at my approach.  I like the color reflected in the water and the quality of the light at the end of the day.  I just wish I had been able to frame it better.

Find more reflected images at Weekend Reflections, hosted by James.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Gibbous Moon at Morro Bay

We've been traveling again so now I have a bit of new material to share over the next week or two.
I caught this moon shot while out birding at Morro Bay on California's Central Coast.

You can find more views of the sky at SkyWatch Friday, hosted by Sandy and Sylvia.