Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wildlife Encounters

I think I've mentioned (probably a few too many times) that this summer has been one, long slog of work, work and more work. Which makes me so very grateful that I managed to "bookend" it with a couple of vacations. We're leaving for Lake Tahoe in a few days and back at the very beginning of the summer, we squeaked in four days in Carlsbad.

Now, I've been to Carlsbad before and while it's pretty and enjoyable, it's mostly the same as the other So Cal beaches closer to my home. However, this time, we had some wildlife encounters that were truly "once in a lifetime" and I wanted to share them.

So, no wildlife yet (because I am a tease that way)...this was our first afternoon there just walking along the sand.

There's something about that end of the day light at the beach. It has such a beautiful golden quality to it.

We took a day-trip a little farther down the coastline to La Jolla and walking along this path looking over the cliff edge we saw seagulls NESTING! After all my years as a So Cal beach girl, I'm very familiar with seagulls, of course. But I have NEVER once seen them nesting! I wasn't fast enough with the camera to catch a shot of the babies, but this bird is sitting on two little balls of fluff...beige with black speckles. Again, first time I've EVER seen baby gulls!

But the biggest reason we went down to La Jolla was to check out the sea lions and harbor seals who hang out on the rocks there. These are mostly adults or larger juveniles.

Then we headed down to what is known as the "Children's Pool" in La Jolla. For years, this beach has been closed to the public and given over to the seals and sea lions. The closes you could get was to walk along the top of the sea wall and look down at them.

Not any more. We were THRILLED to find out the beach was open and you could literally stand within feet of wild seals.

I'm actually standing ON the end of this rock to get this photo of baby harbor seals snoozing.

My camera makes it look farther away, but I could have reached out and touched them (if I'd been stupid enough to try it...which I wasn't).

Here's a bit of a closer view - it was hard to manage the camera while standing on slippery rocks with waves coming in every few seconds!

My only regret is that I didn't wear my bathing suit that day since we didn't anticipate the beach being open. If I had, I could've joined the people who were swimming in the water WITH the seals. Oooh...I was so tempted to go in anyway because, really, how often can you say you got to swim with wild seals, but it just wasn't practical given that I had no towel to dry off with or even other clothes to change into and we had other destinations to visit the rest of the day.

Still, it will go down as one of THE coolest moments of my life!

I hope the upcoming Tahoe trip will be equally memorable. I'm not looking forward to the 8 hour drive, but I am so totally desperate to get out of work mode and give my brain a vacation that I'm sure it will be worth it in the end. I've only ever been there once before, when I was 12 or so, and barely remember it so it'll be a lot of fun to discover all the things there are to see and do there.

So far we're planning on renting waverunners, parasailing on the lake, trout fishing, maybe taking a day trip to Yosemite or a sight seeing bus or boat trip all around the lake. We might even head over the border to Nevada to check out an old silver mine and ride a vintage mining train...

Hopefully, I'll have some good photos to blog about afterwards and maybe it won't take me 2 months to get them up like it did with this post.

Of course, when we get back, school starts just a couple of days later and I can't believe the kid will be in 4th grade already!


Friday, August 10, 2012

A Visit to Tucker Wildlife Center

Or, I could have titled this post "Rumors of my Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated." It's been awful not being able to keep this is current like I have in the past! A recent promotion at work has meant a significant increase in my workload which means much less down time for things like blogging and jewelry-making. Every time I pass by my bead table I can hear the beads crying from loneliness. I'm sure things will eventually get back on track, but at least in the meantime, I'm rakin' the overtime pay LOL!

I first uploaded this pictures back in May! They are from a wonderful little wildlife and nature preserve in our local Saddleback mountains called Tucker Wildlife Center. We visited it for Mother's Day and then went to lunch at a nearby restaurant afterwards. It was such a beautiful place and really fantastic for bird watching - especially hummingbirds. I just wish I'd been fast enough with my camera to catch more of them in photos!

This is Silverado Creek that runs through the back edge of the property. You can see that even though it was only late May, it was already starting to dry up. We didn't have normal rainfall amounts this year so things are pretty dry.

This is a darling little genuine wishing well. You can even lower the bucket if you want to!

When I first walked by this pond, I thought these guys were actually statues because they were so still. Nope, actual turtles that live in the pond...out for a sun bath!

This is Henry, the desert tortoise out for a stroll.

This is supposed to be a bird feeder, but from what I could tell, the squirrels had pretty much taken over the buffet.

There's a fantastic bird watching enclosure with feeders all around it and we identified at least 10 different bird species, not including all the hummingbirds we saw. Unfortunately, I just wasn't good enough with my camera to catch any of that action - especially since we had three wiggly boys with us (my son and my two nephews) who inevitably moved or made noise and scared away the birds just as I was about to snap a picture.

Hope everyone is having a great summer and I hope to get back to blogging more regularly Real Soon Now.