Thursday, April 24, 2014

Malibu to Morro Rock

From Malibu we drove north through the Santa Monica Mountains; through Thousand Oaks and Fillmore to Santa Paula, enjoying the fragrance of the citrus blossoms and avocado orchards.  We spent a day at Piru Lake Recreation Area near the Sespe Condor Sanctuary.  Ty walked 7 miles to see the California Condor nest cave nestled high in the canyon.  He was rewarded with the rare Condor circling the sheer cliff face.  While waiting back at the RV, Ida had a beautiful adult soar straight overhead across the blue sky.

Pictured is the cave where the condors are nesting.  Later we both saw three Condors riding the updrafts with the turkey vultures.
Cassin's Finch

While in Santa Paula we had a few interesting bird sightings such as this Cassin's Finch and the Oregon Junco fledgling below.

We also had a chance to see two movies at the nearby theater.  "Noah" was interesting but took dramatic liberties from the biblical story.  And "Heaven is for Real", based on a true story was very inspirational and we recommend you see it.
Oregon Junco Fledgling 

Western Fence Lizard

California Quail

We drove through the north end of Santa Barbara with it's beautiful landscaped homes and gardens into the Santa Ynez Valley where we stayed Easter weekend at Rancho Oso.  We walked very nice wooded trails and had many migratory birds: Bullock's & Hooded Orioles, 7 species of Warblers, and a Golden Eagle flyover.  Plus these beautiful California Quail and we heard Mountain Quail from the steep hillsides.

Costa's Hummingbird

We put the hummingbird feeder out and it was soon alive with 4 species of hummingbirds and the Acorn Woodpeckers tried to tip the feeder for a drink.
Black-headed Grosbeak

In the flowering trees (unknown species) we had Black-headed Grosbeaks and Western Tanagers

We enjoyed the outdoor Easter Worship service with a local visiting pastor.. trying not to be distracted by the calling birds nearby.
Western Tanager

Morro Rock

We drove through the well known Scandinavian village of Solvang and walked the trails of Nojoqui Falls County Park where we added Purple Martins exploring nesting cavities in a large Sycamore tree.

We settled into Morro Dunes RV Park near the 580 foot monolith Morro Rock perched on 50 acres at the oceans edge with miles of sand beaches to the north and Morro Bay's estuary to the south protected by 5 miles of sand dunes.
Peregrine Falcon

We spent hours at the base of this rock scanning the sheer cliff cavities for the nesting pair of Peregrine Falcons.  Visiting with a local birder who monitors the nest, (who has watched this site for many years) we learned that the chicks had hatched last week.  We watched the falcon stoop on gulls and song birds taking prey to the young.  We shared with many people the high perching falcon through our scope.
Black Oystercatcher

Sea Otter

Many other interesting creatures were  along Morro Bay.  The Black Oystercatchers gathered food as the tide went out.  Sea Otters played in the kelp and were a delight to watch.  There were 7 near the rock playing for hours.  We had Am. Avocets, Black Brant, Marbled Godwits, Long-billed Curlews, Whimbrel, Willets, and nesting Snowy Plovers.  We added Pigeon Guillemots for the year, and lots of loons, cormorants, egrets, and gulls.

Band-tailed Pigeon

Hermit Warbler

One day we drove east through the Santa Ynez Mountains stopping at Cerro Alto campground in the National Forest and found Band-tailed Pigeons, Hermit Warbler, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Hutton's & Cassin's Vireos, and Swainson's Thrush.
Yellow-billed Magpie

Driving back through the Santa Ynez Valley of pastureland and live oaks we found 9 Yellow-billed Magpies.  This species is not found in any other state but California.

We finished up our stay here by visiting 2 State Parks, Morro Bay and Montana de Oro.  We loved watching the beautiful waves splashing up on the miles of rocky cliffs.

Tomorrow we start up the Big Sur and into the California Redwoods.

Blessings and Prayers to all.
Ty & Ida

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