Poppies, Poppies

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Every so often Southern California is blessed with a strong winter season that brings much needed rain and this year there was significant snowfall in the mountains and rain fall throughout the state.    As Spring came and temperatures began to rise plants have responded with millions of flowers.  No where is this more prevalent than the “Antelope Valley California Poppy Preserve”.

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Located a few miles west of Lancaster, California, the preserve has exploded in an incredible display of orange California Poppies(Enchscholzia California),  purplish Blue Dicks(Dichelostemma capitatum) and yellow Goldfields(Lasthenia californica).

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Pelicans At Point Mugu

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When it gets hot inland in Los Angeles, I love going out to Point Mugu State Park.  On my latest trip there I was hoping to see some pelicans, something that has become rare over the past number of years.  When I drove by my favorite rock outcropping I saw a number of birds on rock and thought they were cormorants that frequent this area.

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Much to my surprise, it was five California Brown Pelicans(Pelecanus occidentalis) 

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Once an endangered species, these beautiful birds have made a comeback, thanks in part to the creation of Channel Islands National Park in 1980 where they nest.  With their numbers increasing, they were removed from the endangered species list in 2009.

Carizzo Plains National Monument

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In my last post, Poppies, Poppies, the wildflowers were dominated by the orange California poppy.   This trip, I ventured back out to Carizzo Plains National Monument where I visited seven years ago after the last major wet winter(Carrizo Plain Wildflowers)

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Like the Antelope Valley California Poppy Preserve, this area was alive with wild flowers of Orange Fiddlenecks(Amsinckia menziesii), Goldfields(Lasthenia californica), and Frémont’s phacelia(Phacelia fremontii).

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Hiram M. Chittenden Locks and Carl S English Jr Botanical Gardens

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The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks connect the salt water of Puget Sound from the fresh waters of Lake Union in the northern part of Seattle, Washington.  Built in the early 1900’s, the locks are used to maintain the water levels of Lake Union and Lake Washington and to move boats up and down from Puget Sound.   Surrounding the locks is the Carl S English Botanical Gardens that is home to more than 500 species of plants from around the world.

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On this lovely spring day, my wife and I visited the locks to find the Yoshino Cherry(Prunus X Yedoeniss) tree in full bloom.

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Swimming on the salt water side of the locks were these male and female Barrow’s Goldeneye Ducks(Bucephala islandica)

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And to our surprise there were dozens of Great Blue Herons(Ardea hernias) nesting in the trees above.  Every dark spot, eleven of them,  in the photo above is a nest.

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It may be a bit hard to see, but there are eight Herons in the photo above.

Rosario Beach And Cove

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One of my favorite places to unwind is Rosario Cove and Beach in Deception Pass State Park.  Gorgeous sunsets.

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Serene islands.

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And the golden light of magic hour.

Great Horned Owl

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It’s been a while since my last post.   I’ve been very busy over the past few months working on a computer animated movie up in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.  With that project completed, I’m back home got a chance to head out to the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge on the southern tip of Puget Sound.  The refuge is well known as a nesting site for Great Horned Owls(Bubo virginianus) and after numerous tries in the past I hoped for some better luck.  Well, luck prevailed.  This lovely female was sitting on her nest almost invisible to the small group of bird watchers gathered about thirty feet away.  She would occasionally rise up in the nest and move around into a new position.  After about two hours she rose up just enough to peek down at us.

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Owls, like many other bird species, naturally blend in to their surroundings.  To test this, I’ve removed all the color from the photo and the owl almost completely disappears.