Thursday, November 3, 2011

Morro Rock to - Channel Islands National Park

We drove along Big Sur - gorgeous coastline of rock cliffs, sand dunes and beaches.  Spent the night under the most southern Redwoods next to a clear, babbling brook.  A walk at night yielded Western Screech, Spotted and Great Horned Owls.   On the road south we saw Ferruginous Hawk, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, large numbers  of raptors, coyote, elk and would you believe, even a herd of Zebra on the Hearst Castle Estate.

Pulled into Morro Dunes RV park next to this huge 578 foot monolith - pictured to the left, home to nesting Peregrine Falcons.  
 This photo to the right captures a small segment of the thousands of shorebirds that littered the 5 mile beach to the north of the rock.  If you look carefully you can find: Marbled Godwits, Long-billed Curlews, Whimbrels and 76 Snowy Plovers camouflaged in the background.

After a few days in Santa Barbara and Ventura, we boarded a catamaran for Santa Cruz Island, the largest of the 5 Channel Islands National Park chain.  On the 26 mile voyage, were dozens of Common Dolphins racing our boat, thousands of Western Grebes, and a new 'life bird' a Xantus's Murrelet.  Upon landing, we signed permits and were led by a Nature Conservancy naturalist into the closed property.  Our small group of 5 got to experience the endemic flora and fauna. Our number one goal was to see the Island Scrub Jay - found nowhere else in the world.  We found 6 of these dark blue colored, large birds.  Pictured below is the rich waters around Santa Cruz Island teaming with sea life, fishes, seal lions and birds.  Our best to all from sunny California.   Ty & Ida

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