2011 Northern California … Part 9

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!

Western Wood-Pewee

Western Wood-Pewee

Purple Finch

Purple Finch

Not to long after I encountered this gorgeous Coopers Hawk.

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s 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!!

Black-tailed Deer ... I guess she's not a morning person!

Black-tailed Deer … I guess she’s not a morning person!

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.

1st Year Western Gull

1st Year Western Gull

Adult Western Gull

Adult Western Gull

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!

Heermann's Gull

Heermann’s Gull

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!




About sheriffsmith

I have worked for the Broward County Sheriff's Office the last 13 years and spend most of my free time birdwatching / naturewatching and photographing the birds and nature that I encounter. I believe God has blessed us with a world that is so absolutely fascinating and wonderful and I'm doing my best to discover and show others all that he has provided us with in nature.
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