Tag Archives: wildlife

A Week in O’ahu

As much as I’ve enjoyed the rest of Hawaii, I had yet to visit O’ahu and was always put off by pictures of busy Honolulu and Waikiki.  However, as part of Darlene’s “birthday month”, off we went – and while it doesn’t compare to Kauai or the Big Island, it was still quite enjoyable!

A short video montage of our week in O’ahu (under six minutes, 119 MB)

We rented a condo in Waikiki for four nights and then spent the remaining two nights at a place on the north shore.  We walked the length of Waikiki (and up to the top of Diamond Head and back), snorkeled at Hanauma Bay, spent a rainy day at the Pearl Harbor exhibits, visited some of the south and eastern shoreline, navigated Dole’s “world’s largest pineapple maze”and enjoyed more snorkeling in the north bay.

Click through for the full gallery:

      

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Tracking Coyotes

I had my first chance to try using my drone to track the coyotes that are often in the neighborhood.  I heard them yipping so I pulled out the Mavic Pro and sent it to hover over the nearby field.  I had to hang around looking for them for some 10 minutes or so before they apparently came out of the bushes to bask in the sun.  They didn’t seem too disturbed by the Mavic but I kept it back aways and zoomed in 2x and then further cropped the footage afterwards:

Spying on coyotes from a drone (1:45, 68 MB)

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A Gray Whale Threesome

Darlene and her mom and I took a whale watching tour out of Santa Cruz on March 23rd with Stagnaro Charters.  (I didn’t know whale tours were available out of town here in Santa Cruz – super convenient as opposed to driving down to Monterey.)  We were very lucky to get to first come across a threesome of gray whales in the midst of their courtship/mating – something that apparently gray whales do in groups of three or more:

What appears to be mating, however, is simply an elaborate courtship in which two males can be seen attempting to mate with a female.

Christopher Fitzsimmons, an education specialist at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, explained that mating in pods of three, with two males and a female, is entirely common among gray whales.

“This rolling and rubbing we see is believed to be the whales familiarizing themselves with one another and making sure the female is receptive to mating,” said Fitzsimmons.

Gray whales engage in often elaborate courtship practices before mating. Males will use their pectoral fins to coerce and align females into mating positions. Females have even been observed avoiding the attempts of males for days.

And then later we came across four more gray whales, one of whom did several breaches in front of us. All very cool!

    

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Five Days on the Sonoma Coast

Here’s some pics and video from our longest run yet with the cats in the Traveling Cat Adventure Vehicle – five days on the Sonoma coast from Bodega Bay to Fort Ross, coming back home on New Year’s Day.

Click through for the full gallery:

      

After another rough start with the cats (they still aren’t too keen on being trapped in the big, noisy moving house) and after cleaning up a messy episode with Pan, they eventually settled down for the journey.  We spent a couple of nights at the Bodega Dunes campground exploring the area on foot and finding a few geocaches by day.  On the following day we only ventured up the coast a few more miles and overnighted in an overflow area at Wright’s Beach.  We then continued on to visit Goat Rock to watch the crazy surf, check out the harbor seals at the mouth of the Russian River and hike out to the mammoth rubbing rocks.  We got to Fort Ross just before closing on New Year’s Eve and slipped in the exit gate to run around and check it out before they kicked us out.  On New Year’s Day, we started making our way back, watching for whales far off-shore as we made leisurely progress heading home via the Russian River valley.

The cats seemed to be doing well with slow speed travel and frequent stops and they definitely enjoyed a nice, extended lunch stop off-leash on some empty, grassy school grounds in Santa Rosa.  After five days in the traveling cat adventure vehicle, it was really going well and seeming like this was ready to work for extended trips.  Unfortunately, we had a bit of mishap just before getting home.  One of the solar panels came loose and started smacking around on the roof before we realized what was happening.  It broke free before I could get off the freeway and we ended up pulling over to assess the damage.  Before I knew it, Darlene was off running across the freeway to retrieve the lost panel and then we attracted a highway patrolmen who came over to scold us (and see if we needed assistance).  The noise and drama was all quite traumatic for Pan and a lousy ending to an otherwise promising start to future extended traveling cat adventures.  (And of course now I need to redo the solar panel installation.)

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Monarch Butterflies at Natural Bridges

Some pictures and video from a December visit to see the Monarch butterflies wintering at Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz:

They winter here from November through February, depending on the weather.  If you go, choose to get here during the warmth of the middle of the day or they won’t be very active.  And bring binoculars and a long telephoto because they’ll be mostly way up in the eucalyptus trees.

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Suspects in the Yard

Somebody’s been eating my newly planted flowers in my front yard. I was pretty sure I knew who the culprit was, but for fun I moved my motion-activated camera to the front yard, near the house, to see what I might find.  Well, it took only a couple of nights to catch a whole range of suspects prowling my yard.

I knew there were a couple of rabbits that have taken up residence beneath some of the tall grasses near the house since I sometimes see them out and about in the mornings.  And not surprising to see the coyotes trying to find the rabbits.  But it was a surprise to see a bobcat has been trying to catch the bunnies in the yard too.  And of course I also caught the true culprits who’ve been eating my flowers!  I’ve now installed a motion-activated light and noise-maker now so perhaps the flowers will recover.

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Kathy’s Visit

Pictures from a visit of Darlene’s friend Kathy and her daughter Jordan and friend Adrienne – we went kayaking at Moss Landing/Elkhorn Slough, visited the Santa Cruz wharf and boardwalk and visited the redwoods at Big Basin State Park.  Click through for the gallery:

  

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A Visit from Wile E. Coyote

I noticed Pan looking out the window intently this morning… presumably watching the wild rabbits in the front yard again.  But no, it was somebody else looking for the bunnies today!  Grabbed a little video, set to the tune of some classic cartoon music from Warner Brothers:

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Bed and Breakfast and Elephants

Two weeks ago, Darlene and I enjoyed a weekend stay at the Vision Quest Ranch in Salinas, CA.  It’s a facility that keeps and cares for a host of 100+ various exotic and domestic animals.  Their prime business used to be training and providing animals for use in the film and television industry, but with the increasing use of computer-generated, all-digital animals, they’ve turned more to adopting at-risk or retired animals, doing more educational programs and training programs and transforming the facility into a fully, open-to-the-public zoo, “The  Monterey Zoo”.  This effort is still in progress and so they’re now only open for short, daily, guided tours while they build out larger, more engaging enclosures for their animals.  However, they also run a bed and breakfast service based on several cabin-like tents situated on the property and provide a number of up close encounters with various animals, particularly a couple of retired circus elephants who greet you at your cabin as your breakfast is served.

You can read more about the history of the facility, stories about their numerous animals and information about their various educational efforts on their web site.

A video montage of our visit.

Click through for the full gallery of pictures:

  

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Watched by Mountain Lions

This is some fantastic (and spooky) video footage of several mountain lions hanging around Rancho San Antonio park (near Cupertino and Los Altos).  In particular, watch for the part where the lions sit and watch the runner/hiker with the flashlight in the distance:

Here’s also a related news report and video where a runner came upon and recorded a lion capturing a deer at mid-day in Rancho San Antonio park.

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