Today, my 7th in California, I woke up to another stunningly beautiful day. The weather on the trip to this point has been nothing less than perfect and I again woke to very cool temps and a nice clear sky. Today I spent the morning around Lassen Volcanic National Park and then headed over to the coast in the afternoon.
One of the first birds I saw in the morning was this Western Wood-Pewee (L) sitting enjoying the early morning sun and to my surprise this Purple Finch (L) was in the same snag!
Not to long after I encountered this gorgeous Coopers Hawk.
This young lady didn’t think it was quite time to get up and didn’t even budge … I guess she was really comfortable!!
I eventually realized if I was going to make it to the coast by dark that I would need to start the long haul across the state. I took California 44 out of Lassen which eventually turns into California 299 after you pass through Redding. I took 299 all the way to the coast and if you were to look at this drive on Google Maps you would see that the road is one big swiggle … turn, turn and turn some more. On top of the ups and downs the temperature outside Redding was near 100 and after 3 days in the cool mountain temperatures I ended up stopping only a few times.
I didn’t see many birds at any of my stops, the middle of the day’s not that conducive for birding, but I did pick up a couple new species for the trip like Common Raven, Turkey Vulture and Barn Swallow.
California 299 comes out of the mountains just North of Arcata and while I was still 30-40 miles from the coast I could see a major change in the weather was waiting to greet me at the coast! I was warned/told that it can be very foggy in Northern California along the coast and while I did occasionally see the sun the next 3-4 days for the most part there was a fog bank that kept creeping in and out making photography really difficult.
The first place I stopped along the coast was at Clam Beach State Park. There was a small campground, more like a parking lot, so I thought I might spend the night here. It already was fairly dark, from the fog, even though it wasn’t quite 5pm and the drive over from Lassen had been a tough haul so I found a spot, parked and took a nice long walk on the beach.
Can you believe the above two birds are the same species!!
Gulls, Gulls and more Gulls … Western Gulls (L), Heermann’s Gull (L), and California Gulls, all species that were firsts for me on this vacation and now I had to try and sort through all ages of these unfamiliar species. Gulls are notoriously hard to ID to begin with so I was in for a treat the next couple of days!
There were a few other birds on the beach. There were flocks of Western Sandpipers, flocks of Whimbrels, Pelicans and Cormorants. Lots of nice birds but little chance of getting usable images.
I made my way back to the truck and quickly decided that it was going to be to bright and to noisy for me to sleep here so I headed up the coast toward tomorrows destination which was Patrick’s Point State Park. A fellow birder in Lassen had told me how nice this park was and there just happened to be a fabulous rest area on US 101 that would put me very close to the park for the next morning!