Friday, January 1, 2016

An Eeping Elk, and Other Holiday-time Sights

My sister came to visit for Christmas (yay!), and Paul and I got to show her all the awesome things about Northern California. There were rainy hikes (and later, hikes with sunshine!), trips to the beach, a sunset over the Pacific Ocean, and lots and lots of food. :D I didn't take many pictures during this awesome and relaxing family time, but I do want to share some of the cool creatures we met while exploring.

In Redwood National and State Parks, we drove slowly past a herd of Elk browsing next to the road. How nice of these Elk to pose with their statue (note also the wonderfully fuzzy trees in the background):

One young Elk was very vocal, which was a cool surprise. (We thought surely the sound was coming from a bird... until this big mammal showed us otherwise.) I'm not sure what all this Elk's "eep"-ing meant, but I'm hoping it was more of a chatty communication with the rest of the herd than a pitiful cry. Either way, the second Elk in the above picture didn't seem to have much patience for the young Elk; it got a little kick as they moved on:

A couple of days later, from the trail on Trinidad Head, we watched the ocean and were rewarded with a glimpse of a migrating whale (or maybe two) in the distance:

A whale! See it? (Right there!) I'm not exactly sure of the species, but it's most likely a Gray Whale, since they migrate south in big numbers down the coast around this time. I've been very much hoping to see a whale while we're living here, so I'll take it!

A couple of Wrentits (not a wren... not a tit... it's a Wrentit!) briefly showed themselves in between long foraging sessions deep in the bushes:

These birds are apparently very good at skulking, and I was happy to get to see their funny round bodies and little beaks. This Wrentit was after some dangling red berries:

I had actually had another brief encounter with a Wrentit a few days earlier while walking near the dunes. Hello funny bird!

A handsome Hermit Thrush was dashing around an open area at the top of Trinidad Head, pausing every few feet to stand up tall and survey the ground for morsels:

The Hermit Thrush seemed to be having a successful hunt, and I was happy to admire its wonderfully dappled chest and its rusty tail:

At the shore, a trio of Black Oystercatchers were foraging in the waves:

Oystercatchers are such strange-looking birds, and after getting to know American Oystercatchers during my time in Connecticut, I'm glad I got to meet this western species:

It was so wonderful to be able to explore with my family around the holidays. The past few months have been very busy, and I haven't been able to get outside nearly as much as I would like. But I am looking forward to a whole set of new adventures and opportunities in the new year. Hello, 2016!