Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Redwood Coast - Northern California

Time to head north into the Big Sur - the rugged, rocky coastline highway with picturesque views at every turn.

One stop was the Elephant Seal resting beach, full of young, females and sub-adult males - some molting, resting, sparing and dusting with sand.

We took a side trip into the Moonglow Dairy to find the threatened Tri-colored Blackbirds keeping company with the dairy cows.  The farmer asked if we were taking photos of the cows or the birds.  Seeing that we were from Wisconsin from our dairyland license plate, he knew it had to be for the birds.

We settled into Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Park nestled in the sky-scraper tall grove of redwoods.  Nearby was the Henry Cowell State Park that we walked to twice and meandered through the beautiful Redwood Grove with its 350 foot tall trees.

We added a couple birds to our growing year list: The Wood Duck and the Pacific Wren.  We also found our first Banana Slugs of the Northwest.
Wood Duck

Banana Slug

We drove north along the coast through more Redwoods and then into San Francisco.  We slowly moved in traffic toward the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.  Crossing high above the Bay then into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area with cliffs high above the ocean.

We found a nice campground in Olema which straddles the San Andreas Rift Fault Zone.  During the large San Francisco earthquake of 1906 the Point Reyes Peninsula leaped 20 feet northwestward.  This National Seashore is noted for it's 14 mile beach, high cliffs and 14 historic farms that are still in operation.

Perched 300 feet above the Lighthouse, we had a bird's eye view of the Common Murre colony below.  We watched a cow Gray Whale and her calf pass by on their way northward.  (We hope to wee them again in Alaska).

While watching, a Peregrine Falcon passed by over us several times landing nearby on the rocks above us.  This area is usually covered in fog and cool but the weather for our time here was clear, sunny and in the mid-70's.

We had great looks at the Tule Elk, Black-tailed Deer with their very shaggy coats, California Sea Lions, Harbor Seals and our first Tufted Puffins.
Tule Elk

We walked Drake's beach in it's sheltered harbor and found gathering Whimbrels.  Four more Gray whales passed by just outside the waves.

We found a campground on the Albion River and on a walk up the river we found this harbor seal with her pup.

That evening ended with this perfect sunset at the mouth of the river.

We spent a morning walking at Van Damme State Park along the beautiful fern canyon.  The highlight was 2 tiny Northern Pygmy Owls flitting from branch to branch, one holding a Wilson's Warbler in it's talons.  The other warblers and chickadees were chattering and harassing the owls.

We settled near Fort Bragg and spent a day at the extensive Botanical Gardens across from our RV park.  The multicolored Rhododendrons were in full bloom and covered acres of the park.  The trails went out to the coast covering many life zones and every tree, shrub and flower that grows in Northern California.

Spotted Towhee


We spent two days birding Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge finding 71 species of birds.  Many shorebirds, sea birds and spring migrant passerines were passing through.

We enjoyed a worship service at an inner city church in Eureka joining with our RV park owner and his wife for the evening.
Battery Point LIghthouse
Drive-thru Tree

More scenic Redwood drives and a detour to the famous Drive-Thru Tree.

Only small cars are allowed to drive through. No RVs!  More Redwoods and more elk along the Redwoods National Park Scenic Drive.

We are now at our last stop in California - Crescent City - where our campsite overlooks the Battery Point Lighthouse.  The only sound at night is the barking of the California Sea Lions.
California Sea Lions

We continue our journey northward at a snail's pace matching our speed to the Spring migrants.

Love & Prayers,
Ty & Ida Baumann

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