Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…

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Bird field trip, two…

Coyote Hills Regional Park

Our March bird field trip was an hours distance from home to a regional park with a marsh and rolling hills. The bird-life was abundant and it was an especially good raptor day.  We saw White-tailed Kites, a Merlin, Northern Harriers, a Sharpshinned, and a Cooper’s Hawk. Bright, shiny, and gorgeous, we walked the trails and were rewarded with a great variety of birds. They were difficult to take photos of because of their fast movement. I ended up with many shots of blank skies where a Kite or a Harrier had been. My photos were of the scenery, interesting in its amber and brown-green colors. The marsh is low in water (draught California)  complicated by the fact that the marshes had always been humanly supplemented with pumps until they broke last year and the decision was made that it is too expensive to fix them. They have found that there are fewer birds but not fewer species frequenting the area.

First view of the rolling hills…


Monarchs on a eucalyptus in the parking lot…


The birders begin their walk…IMG_0027 IMG_0036

The parched California landscape…IMG_0030

Some water in the canals of the marsh…IMG_0064 IMG_0063 IMG_0057 IMG_0050 IMG_0045 IMG_0039


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A few California poppies were in evidence…IMG_0184 IMG_0183

In places it looked a little like Sedona…IMG_0177 IMG_0174

There is the Cooper’s Hawk…IMG_0189



Urban nature…

Oakland, California…

We went on the first field trip for TM’s birding class Saturday morning. Two places close to home but we had never been to either one.

In the heart of Oakland is the Lake Merritt wildlife preserve which we visited first and then we walked through the Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in the industrial part of the city.

Lake Merritt

The Lake Merritt tidal lagoon was the first official wildlife refuge in the United States designated in 1870. This great building sits by its side. (The Bellevue-Staten Building from 1929. Designed by Herman Bauman.) A lovely grey day, teaming with birds willing to pause long enough in their routines for an iPhone to capture them.


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Eddie Bartley, one of the teachers of the class and the leader of the field trip…


Black-crowned Night-heron with American Coots…


Greater Scaup…


A female and two male Canvasbacks with two American Coots…


Black-crowned Night-herons…

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A Cormorant sits on the top branch of this tree…

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Snowy Egret (still can’t believe I got this picture)…


American White Pelicans…

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Greater Egret with a cormorant in the background…

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Middle Harbor Shoreline Park

After great success with birds a Lake Merritt we drove west through the industrial part of Oakland to the Middle Harbor Shoreline Park. Great birding here, too, plus a view of the Bay Bridge from an angle I had never seen it from (the south side). It was a grey day but still a very nice park and on a clear day the view is probably magnificent of the bridge and the San Francisco skyline.


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Canada Geese…


Long-billed Curlew…


This mass of Western Sandpipers, Dunlins, and Least Sandpipers arose in a panic and agitatedly flew around because…


up on the crane tower to the far left, unseen by my human eyes and unseen by my iPhone, was a Peregrine Falcon. Luckily many of the other birders had powerful scopes that they shared. (Pretty sure that is going on someone’s Christmas list for next year!)


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A nice morning in two places that I am sure we will be returning to for viewing and on the way home we stopped for fish tacos. So many examples of those who like to eat fish…we just couldn’t help ourselves.

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The early morning walk of Easter morning just after a night of rain. The sky and reflections cleaned and glistening. A song from long ago leaping from a recess of my mind and whispering across my lips as I walked. Of course, the version in my head is sung by Cat Stevens…did I skip?  Well, just a little…

Morning Has Brokenby Eleanor Farjeon

Morning has broken, like the first morning

Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word

Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God’s recreation of the new day


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Speaking of telemetry and condors, last week Terry was out at his volunteer job with GGRO (Golden Gate Raptor Observatory) where he goes one day a week to band raptors so their migration patterns over the Marin Headlands (part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area) Can be studied. He was asked to hold a large redtail hawk while it was fitted with a GPS transmitter so its path can be followed. His job was to hold it and then get it to move its wings to see if the equipment was working.
I did not take these pictures that show the transmitter (it fits on with a harness) because I am not really a talon type of person. These pictures were taken by Calvin Hom another volunteer who gave me permission to include them here. Telemetry info is linked here. The blind that catches the redtail that will be attached with the device gets to name it from a list of names. The choice was Big Bird because of its large size.
The linked site will be updated to reflect that Big Bird is also sending signals along with Augusta the first redtail fitted with a transmitter.

I decided I should add this additional picture because it shows the top of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Pause 2…

This painting of California Condors is an acrylic dry-brush done by my father. It sits on the mantle in my living room and reminds me of the condors I have seen. All were in captivity in the L.A. or San Diego Zoos back in the day when the captive breeding program had just begun. Here we were at the Grand Canyon and my eagle-eyed bird-man was on alert. Unfortunately, all he could find was a sign about not throwing pennies and coins over the cliff because condors might eat them and be poisoned.


As we left the sunset to look for the shuttle bus back to the Village, we came upon a ranger with telemetry equipment and she pointed to the spot where a father condor had stopped and the spot where his 18 month old daughter was perched.

The daughter was born in a cave on the back side of this rock formation. Which raises the question about what kind of job qualifications those who enter the cave must need. Not only would they have to be rock climbers, but along with attaching the radio transmitter to a shoulder they would have to have taken a blood test in order to say it is a female. The ranger also had a binder with pictures of flying condors. I loved this one near the Watchtower that we had just seen that morning.


By dark, nobody flew for us but we came back the next morning hopes high. No luck. The thermals probably hadn’t had enough time to develop. We had a few more stops to see.
The Lookout Studio (another building by Mary Colter) right on the rim.

The Kolb Studio had a plein air exhibit that was beautiful to see.






As we checked out of our room elk were grazing nearby.


We hit the road for Sedona but before leaving the park, we stopped at the Geology Museum.

A framed piece of glass showed the view and quoted Theodore Roosevelt.

“Do nothing to mar its grandeur for the ages have been at work on it and man cannot improve it. Keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you.”
Note: two days later, Terry was bird watching in Red Rock State Park near Sedona. He and his fellow bird watcher, Darrell, met some tourists from Canada who had been at the Grand Canyon two days before us. They saw seven condors flying over the Village. Salt meet wound.
Oh, well, still on the bucket list…

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A pause from processing Paris pics for a trip to Arizona with the first stop the south side of the Grand Canyon…

I hadn’t been to the Grand Canyon since elementary school when during the summers my school-teacher father would pack the whole family into the station wagon for treks across country. Fifty years ago, the overlooks were just graded flat places and when we all tumbled out of the car and ran for the view, my mother could be heard to yell after us, “Don’t go too close to the edge!” Even with obvious barriers, now, some people were crossing into treacherous places just to catch the perfect shot.
We chased the sunrise each morning…





and drove twenty miles to the east to Desert View where the Watchtower still stands over the vast expanse of the Canyon. The Watchtower was designed by architect Mary Colter in 1932 for the Fred Harvey Company. It is four floors high up to the big windows for the view.



A spiral staircase inside takes you up to the top for the view (much like Notre Dame for the gargoyles) and the interior is decorated with murals by Fred Kabotu and petroglyph-style decorations by Fred Greer.








We came back west toward the Village and stopped at each view point. At Navajo Point we could look back toward the Watchtower…



We also saw the Tusayan Museum and Ruin.



Then we chased the sunset…