I knew the day was off to a good start when I was rewarded with the sight of my first-ever Chestnut-Backed Chickadee. He showed up in the back yard and kept us entertained during breakfast. He was super-fast and hyper so this is the only clear shot I managed to get. I was thrilled - he's so handsome!
The first area we explored at Pt. Lobos promised some good tide pool opportunities...as long as we were willing to clamber over a lot of rocks.
The cormorants kept us company on the rocks.
And they weren't the only ones...
...others were looking for tide pool bounty, too.
This Black Oystercatcher was busy scrounging for breakfast.
There must have been something good on this rock because he was really going over and over it.
Things looked even better when the sun came out for a bit.
Finally! I found a great spot. This pool was FULL of beautiful bright purple sea urchins, green shore crabs, hermit crabs, snails, tiny fish and more.
Purple urchins everywhere I looked...and there were multiple large pools all as full (or more!) than this one.
A close up of some urchins with snails and hermit crabs (using snail shells).
Gorgeous purple color on these urchins...
...so bright and vibrant!
Green shore crab crawling out of a hole in the rocks.
Then I found the "crab cave"...it was full of green shore crabs. Some were as big as the entire palm of my hand!
This Western Gull was keeping watch over the tide pools.
Smaller Heermann's Gulls staked out their own observation posts...
They are my favorite of the local gulls...such a great contrast of that dark red beak with the pure white head!
This one gave a wing stretch demonstration...
Ryan discovered these interesting formations in the rocks...interestingly, they were all on the non-ocean side of the rocks and far away from the tideline
And yet they were all full of salt crystals.
Ryan insists they were alien-generated. Love that 12-year-old imagination!
Despite the rough swell and waves crashing on the rocks, there were plenty of otters. I was amazed at how well they handle the rough surf and at their ability to avoid getting smashed on the rocks!
Of course, some were not as adventurous and had found a quieter cove area with a nice kelp bed to hang out in.
This little cove is one of the only places that divers are allowed, but you still have to get a special permit.
It must be truly amazing to be able to dive with the otters nearby.
I loved this one checking out his flippers!
Finally started to lose the sun, but I couldn't miss out on trying to capture some of the Harbor Seals. I really love these guys...and this one was so pretty!
The variation in their coloring is so interesting...some are so dark like this one
He had to check out his flippers, too!
I also thought it was interesting how they get themselves onto these high rocks...the tide must've been a LOT higher when this one picked out this perch.
It's almost sad that their pelts are so pretty...I'm sure that's partly what made them such a target for hunters in the past.
And when we got home...the Black-tailed Deer were once again on hand to greet us. Just love those dainty deer feet!
It must be so awesome to live in a place where you see deer in the yard all the time.
I don't think I'd ever get tired of it!
Especially when they pose so nicely!
Can't believe I'm finally getting to the end of the over 6,000 photos I took. Stay tuned for the last installments - they include some more wildlife shots and some truly amazing scenery from our return drive back through Big Sur.