Hoping for a little color and clouds at sunrise, I headed north from Stockton in the dark and arrived at the Preserve just in time to see a glorious display of color reflected in the pond behind the Visitor Center.
The River Walk Trail is drying quickly now, and should be officially opened soon. Still, the water remains high in some spots that I saw this morning.
Finally! A week of warmer, drier weather. Time to get out and smell the flowers and see the color!
These were taken this morning at the Delta College Demonstration Garden on campus. Got to meet the head of the horticulture department as he snipped specimens for his class to identify. I told him I took ornamental horticulture at San Francisco City College in 1964 when it was one of the most prestigious places to learn the subject. He wasn't impressed. Said he graduated from Cal Poly with an emphasis in Turf. I wasn't impressed.
Today was Snow Day at Quail Lakes Baptist Church in Stockton. The only problem: NO SNOW! The truck ran into bad conditions and couldn't pick it up.
Never fear . . . Grant is here! Hero Hawes came to the rescue and ordered jump houses and slides early in the morning. The kids loved them. Actually, they got to play a lot more than they would have if there had been only one line to enjoy the snow pile.
Congratulations to EVERYONE who rolled with God's better plan and made this a successful event that will be remembered for a long time.
With the Cosumnes River Preserve locked down due to flooding, my second choice of shooting was back on Staten Island Road, where the Sandhill cranes are still hanging out. I made the mistake of bumping up my ISO to 4000, which created too much grain/noise.
I drove over to Franklin Blvd. and Twin Cities Road and saw the flooded fields and roads firsthand. What a mess. This will be a winter to remember.
After about a month of flooding on the Cosumnes River, I was able to venture north to inspect the deluge.
I swung by Staten Island Road first and was surprised by the number of Sandhill cranes and the cloud array at sunrise.
The Preserve fields were all flooded with a few feet of water, so the trails were inaccessible. The boardwalk was passable, though, so everyone who didn't have a kayak or canoe could at least do a little exploring. It was very cold and only a few birds dotted the ponds.
This free three-day event won't interest too many Stockton folks, but there were about 200-300 fans early Saturday morning. If you like dancing, choreography, color, and youthful enthusiasm, you'd enjoy it. Great classical music, too, for some of the performances.
This is a huge event for Stockton, with folks coming from all over the States, plus Japan, Canada and Australia.
Did I say it was foggy out? Especially at the waterfront.
I was surprised to find about 75-100 Sandhill cranes in the south pond in back of the Visitor Center at the Preserve this morning. They weren't too concerned that I was there and let me take all the pictures I wanted as I walked closer about 10' at a time.
Other birds greeted me, including Western bluebirds, Ruby-crowned kinglets, Tundra swan, a couple of Cooper's hawks playing together, Killdeer, Canada goose, White egret, pintail and mallard, etc.
Pretty chilly, with small ponds frozen over and speedsters on the river all bundled up.
Rain was scheduled for this morning as I headed up I-5 to the Preserve, hoping for a potentially glorious sunrise while it was sprinkling. I drove down Bruceville Road with lots of color showing to the east, above the flooded acreage that had about 100 Sandhill cranes in two ponds. I wasn't disappointed, but rewarded with a beautiful blush of reds, orange and yellows. Thankfully, the rain waited just until I finished my shots! God had mercy on me!
I then headed for Woodbridge Road, seeing a few dozen cranes in the fields and many egrets along the road. My crane shots were bland, so you only get the egrets. The two little juvenile snowy egrets were cute. Each a foot high.
Gas is cheap right now. No excuse for not heading out and enjoying God's creation.
Our Thanksgiving eve service included singing, baptisms, testimonies of thanks, and a needed message.
"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting. And His truth endures to all generations." Psalm 100:4,5
The Visitor Center at the Preserve is open after four months of remodeling, but they aren't finished yet. Nice and warm inside, though! I was their first visitor. 19-year volunteer veteran Rick explained what's going on. A design team is coming to add finishing touches.
Very foggy at sunrise. Started to clear about the time I left at 9:30 or so.
Barb and I picked up my photo entries from the Sandhill Crane Festival Art Show in Lodi, then headed out Woodbridge Road to see a great sunset and try to shoot some incoming cranes. The place was packed out. People started parking right on the road after the parking lot filled up.
No one was disappointed that stuck it out until it was almost dark. Plenty of crane action and a beautiful sunset to enjoy.
After a summer of waiting, the Sandhill Cranes are returning to their wintering grounds here in the San Joaquin Valley.
I was not expecting the wonderful cloud array this morning and am thankful to our God of providential mercies for providing it for me and everyone else who was able to get out early and marvel at the sunrise!
The 86th annual Paso Robles Pioneer Day Parade is now in the history books. It featured more than 200 entries - over two hours of vintage and restored tractors, cars and trucks, pioneer families, schools, bands, organizations - an All-American view of an All-American parade.
I think this is the first year that every entry was photographed (I may have missed a few, though). Fun, but tiring for these old bones!
Just south of Pismo Beach, the Oceano Dunes recreational area offers the dune explorer with countless hours of exploration fun (mixed with a lot of work trudging through deep sand trails). Late afternoon sunlight renders the best shadow detail for the photographer. Zillions of photo ops for the avid fotog. Don and I will probably be heading back to experience another high adventure in sandy domain of these dunes.
We decided to revisit the Empire Mine last week and weren't disappointed in the Museum, grounds and gardens. This is a first-class destination in our book. By contrasting both wealth and menial work to attain that wealth on the same acreage, one comes away with the knowledge that the two can get along with both prospering.
This mine extracted one trillion ounces of gold here in California, more than any other mine and operated until 1957 or so. The mine shafts descend under the whole city of Grass Valley to a depth of 11,000' - all visually seen in a model that shows all the tunneling in the Museum.
Reno's downtown was filled with Street Vibrations bikers and cyclists, with a few homeless folks here and there. We enjoyed going to Dan and Kathy's wedding, then headed back to Truckee to stay the night. Unfortunately, three bikers shot another cyclist a few miles from our hotel on Hwy 80, and all traffic was backed up for 8 miles and had to turn around and go to Hwy 50 through Lake Tahoe to go west. They didn't open the highway until midnight. Barb and I took the Mt. Rose highway to North Lake Tahoe and got to our hotel about 2.5 hours after leaving Reno originally. No fun at all.
Then we visited Nevada City via Hwy 20 the next day.
Needed to get out of town after working too much overtime. The Stockton Record photo challenge right now has a "Summertime" theme, so I thought about shooting dragonflies at Sutter Creek. "Doors" is another challenge on the Photography Forum Facebook page, hence the various doors along the main drag and alleys.
Just a few miles north of Oakhurst, Nelder Grove harbors huge Sequoia trees. The dirt road that enters the park is challenging for timid or impatient drivers. Don and I arrived late in the afternoon without a map, so we didn't hike to any trees. I was mainly after dogwood blooms anyway. Note the burned area trees on the way to the grove.
Don and I were on our own for Day II at Yosemite. We left the hotel in Oakhurst at 3:30 a.m. so we could get to Washburn Point to shoot the sunrise. It was a bust with no clouds (should have waited a week!). We then went up the road to Glacier Point, then down into the Valley for a day's worth of shooting, including Mirror Lake and a half mile up the trail from there.
With a flush covering of green grass, reeds and tree leaves, the Preserve is becoming a lush jungle on the trails at this time. The bird life is varied, with many nesting right now, including the House Wren whose warning calls belie its small size. It will get within 3' of you while it's scolding your presence. There are at least 2 nests on the Wetlands Walk boardwalk on the ponds.
Great morning after some flooding. The trails were closed at the Cosumnes River Preserve due to it. I shot the sunrise on I-5 at Twin Cities Road, then went to Bruceville Road for the rainbow. I could see a bald eagle on a Desmond Road power pole (by the residences), but as soon as I turned on to it for a photo, it spooked and flew south. Had to grab a shot through the car windshield. Not the best tactic, as you can see.
The sheep had been moved out of the Wetlands Walk area, so the grass was only a few inches high. Not many ducks. Only saw a few geese, no sandhill cranes, and a dozen stilts.
Drove down New Hope Road for the oak tree pastoral shots.
Hoping to follow up on some Sandhill Crane shooting last Monday on Staten Island Road, I drove there before dawn. Gary from Sacramento was already there ready to shoot, but the fog was thick, the light was low and the water had receded, putting our subjects farther away. It was a total bust for me - I didn't even pull my gear out of the trunk. But Gary and I had a great visit, talking about his trip this week to shoot Horsetail Fall in Yosemite. He's going back for three days this week, too.
I headed over to the Cosumnes River Preserve to walk the River Walk trail and see what I could see. Nothing exciting except getting my first White-breasted Nuthatch shots. Then when I was back at the parking lot, a large group of White-fronted Geese appeared from the east and started landing in the big pond. Pretty fun to see.
PLEASE USE THE SLIDESHOW BUTTON AT UPPER RIGHT FOR BEST VIEWING!
More birding fever here as I visited Staten Island Road again, then the Preserve a few miles away. Wonderful sunrise color was a blessing after a foggy visit last time. Color makes a huge difference.
There were hundreds more Sandhill Cranes this morning than last visit, also. Pretty overwhelming. Fewer geese, though.
The photos of the Ring-necked Duck and Bufflehead were cropped heavily - thus, they are out of focus. Sorry, I'm a stickler for quality, but I hadn't seen these two species before.
A foggy shroud lay low as I rounded Desmond Road onto Bruceville Road at the Preserve. Not the first time, but I was the ONLY one here this morning until heading back to the parking lot.
First time I had seen a Common Goldeneye, but it was so far away and it was so foggy, I could only get a grab shot.
The Stockton Record photo challenge is "Birds" this time, so here they are. Staten Island Road Sandhill Cranes and Cosumnes River Preserve bird assortment.
Not a lot of birds at the Preserve, except for these house finches flying through. The tree swallows were starting to nest. The Dark-eyed junco was blind in his left eye (picture wasn't posted).
It rained here in the valley for most of the early morning, ending around 6:30 a.m. I headed out with just a slight bit of drizzle at 7:00 or so, knowing the storm had passed. The cloud arrays were wonderful, as I'd hoped for. The sun came out, as I'd hoped for. It turned warm, and I was surprised!
Lots of birds everywhere, especially the herd of turkey vultures.
There will be more rain tonight and tomorrow.
Lots of friendly birds were ready for me and my cameras at the Preserve Saturday morning. I was in no real hurry to walk the trails, and the birds had to put up with my hanging around. They still have to eat, so eventually didn't pay much attention. The little Ruby-crowned Kinglets were the most fun. They were pretty fearless and would forage within 5'-10' from me for some great close ups.
There were only a few people there when I arrived, but the parking lots were full when I left around 11:00.
A rare Christmas Day full moon was an invitation to capture its reflection at the Preserve early Friday morning. An overnight freeze added to the reason to go, as I really like shooting leaves fringed with ice.
There was a layer of clouds hiding the moon, but it appeared just a few minutes before hitting the horizon,and a few minutes before the sun came up. Great combination that I've photographed here three times now.
The fallen leaves and debris are still full of color and abstract design. Trying to get a perfect composition is the real challenge. I've emphasized the frost on a number of these shots using the Paint Daubs filter.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
It rained pretty hard yesterday, so the ground was sopping wet during my foggy sunrise walk around the back pond and beyond. The autumn color is still hanging around a bit, hence lots of leaf photos.
The oaks were majestic in the greyish soup and made perfect silhouettes as the sun was rising.
I didn't see any ground critters like last week, but there were plenty of birds to enjoy, especially the new crop of goldfinches and Oregon juncos. A white-tailed kite and kestrel were also on the prowl.
The most interesting creature was a totally dew-drenched dragonfly that was on a shrub in some water, so I couldn't get very close to it, but was able to record it for the first time in my long life.
Another great morning in the record books. I thank the Lord for letting me enjoy these times of peace, quiet and His wonderful creation.
With the moon setting about 1/2 hour before sunrise, I arrived at the Preserve just at the right time to experience it reflecting off the water. It was pretty cold, though and pitch dark. It had been cloudy during the night so I couldn't see the moon when looking outside, but about 4:00 or so, the clouds waved goodbye and I knew what shots I'd try to get first.
Just before sunrise, a pretty decent cloud array looked hopeful for some strong color, but most it dissipated as the light shone on them. That's the name of the game. You don't know what Providence is going to deal you. I'm happy just to be able to get out and capture a few images!
There were a number of birder/photographers on Bruceville Road at Cosumnes River Preserve when I got there before sunrise this morning. They were from a Sacramento group.
There was a little bit of color in the clouds, which was helpful, along with a fair amount of ground fog, both making for good picture opportunities.
People were very friendly, but I scooted off up the road about a 1/10 of a mile to get most of my shots. I'm a loner by birth, I think.
We drove through the Park on Sunday, then again on Wednesday as we returned home from the June Lake area. They were control burning, so the valley was smoky on Sunday. Not the best time to take pictures, especially since there was no water in any of the falls we saw. Dry, bleak and pretty colorless for October.
I was surprised to see so many cars parked at the South Tufa parking lot at Mono Lake in mid-October, but realized that there are probably about 2000% more photographers out shooting now, compared to the last time I was at the lake in 1970 or so.
So there were photographers in the way of other shooters, not the best situation. Thankfully, we are a patient and kind lot.
Mono Lake - we are not impressed. A basically dead lake in a half-dead desert is not my cup of shutter tripping tea.