Shell Games

four gulls

It has been so windy here on the north coast of California for the past two weeks that the last time we tried to walk on the beach we didn’t get far. Yesterday morning the wind died down long enough for us to climb the dunes and hang out with the gulls and a fisherman.

Arcata fisherman

This is Mad River Beach at its best. The tide was coming in, and the gulls and I were chased back from the edge of the surf every few waves.

shore shell 1

With an eye on the surf, I managed to photograph several pummeled shells that nestled in the drenched sand. I’ll be back for more today!

shore shell 2

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Jack is Back

There was a family of Black-tailed jackrabbits in the “backyard” of the cabin last year, frequently seen by Sam and myself cruising through the neighborhood. They appeared to have vanished until the past couple of weeks. We thought the coyotes had feasted on them, or maybe the Gray fox that I spotted again this spring. Then there is the pair of Red-shouldered hawks nearby, along with an assortment of other likely predators.

jackrabbit 1

Finally a lone critter, younger than one I photographed over a year ago, hopped across the hill behind the cabin a couple of times recently, and I saw it further down in the neighbor’s yard as well. We’ll see if any more show up this summer.

jackrabbit 2


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Above the Marsh, Near the Bay

Arcata Marsh wildflowers 1

Sam and I spent this past Memorial Day weekend in Humboldt County, and while we were there visiting we managed to find time for our customary walk at the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary.

Arcata Marsh poppies

We enjoyed perfect late spring weather and a quiet, peaceful atmosphere while surveying the local wildflowers in the early afternoon on Sunday.

Arcata Marsh lupine

As we began our stroll around Klopp Lake, I spotted a raptor flying low along the edge of Arcata Bay. I didn’t see it again until we reached the far side of the lake, where we encountered a cluster of birders who were watching and photographing an Osprey that was circling overhead.

Arcata Marsh Osprey

This was a rare treat. It has been a very long time since I have seen this amazing fish hawk, which is one of my favorite creatures. It seems that each time we venture out to the coast, there is something unique to enjoy.

osprey at Arcata Marsh

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Postcards from California’s Central Coast

On Mother’s Day weekend earlier this month, I drove across the state from the northern Sierra foothills near Auburn to the San Francisco Bay Area, and then down the coast to San Luis Obispo County. On the central coast leg of my adventure, I spent quality time with my sister, my niece, and both of my daughters in Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo, and Nipomo. Although the wind was extreme at times, we managed to enjoy ourselves outdoors, exploring the marina in Morro Bay, walking around downtown SLO, and venturing out across the boardwalk at Oso Flaco Lake to the beach. Dining was also on our list of things to do, which we spread out over all three locations!

Morro Rock

The weather was beautiful on Monday morning, and as always it was hard for me to tear myself away from the coast. After a stroll I took these photos on the waterfront before my sister and I left Morro Bay to return to our daily lives.

Morro Bay

boats on Morro Bay

Morro Rock and Bay

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Birding on the Bay, or What’s Black and White with Long, Pink Legs?

On a recent trip to the San Francisco Peninsula from the Sierra foothills across the state, I avoided the congestion of the interstate and took the less traveled route. Winding my way through the Sacramento Valley and Delta, I found my way on Highway 84 through Niles Canyon and across the Dumbarton Bridge. Then I paused to join a friend and walk the trails at Bedwell Bayfront Park. Although it was quite windy, we enjoyed the exercise and a variety of birds. egret untouched This Snowy Egret was showing off in front of my parked car in the mid-afternoon light. What a beauty! snowy egret Nearby, Black-necked Stilts hid their long, pink legs in the blue water while they foraged. black-necked stilt The distinctive birds emerged to dry themselves along the shore. stilts The rewards of venturing out into the wind after hours of driving were worth the effort. What a treasure to find such interesting and beautiful creatures in a semi-wild spot amid the pavement and structures of human civilization.

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Trinidad, California Beaches

near Houda Point 1

Even on a cloudy day, Humboldt County beaches have a lot to offer. Here is the view looking northwest near Houda Point south of Trinidad. Below is nearby Camel Rock.

Camel Rock

College Cove is a popular, secluded beach just south of Trinidad Harbor, below the lighthouse which includes a memorial to fishermen lost at sea.

trinidad lighthouse

The beach is protected by cliffs, with steep stairs that take you down to enjoy the panorama

near Trinidad

and share the view with Harbor Seals.

trinidad harbor seal

Once you reach the pier, it’s time to take one last stroll before a tasty fish dinner. But don’t forget your coat and hat, because it’s always windy!





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Moonstone Beach, a Humboldt County Gem

moonstone beach 5

Growing up in California, I was always equally drawn to the mountains and the ocean. A trip to the beach from our house in the San Francisco Bay Area had me anxiously peering out the window of our Buick station wagon, waiting for that first glimpse of dunes along the coast, and the smell of the salt breeze. An excursion into the Sierra foothills brought excitement of a different kind. The tall pines waited for me as we wound our way up from the San Joaquin Valley into the conifer forest.

moonstone beach 2

Now that we live in the Sierra foothills, surrounded by oak woodlands and pine forests, I still get excited about a trip to the coast. This week we headed for Humboldt County, and spent a morning visiting the beaches between Arcata and Trinidad.

moonstone beach 4

My favorite has always been Moonstone Beach. When our kids were little, we lived in Arcata, and I remember outings punctuated by collections of shells and a sand-filled car.

little river at moonstone beach

When the tide is low, the Little River winds along the beach and you can cross the sand to several caves that scoop into the side of a cliff dressed with hanging gardens.

moonstone beach 3

Last Thursday morning we had a perfect visit.

moonstone beach 1

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