Classical Glass

Sometimes it’s difficult to find on the beach. Sometimes, it nearly jumps out at you in a blur as you walk by.

Sometimes you get fooled.

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bright green seaweed, not glass

Other times, the ocean hasn’t worked its magic yet, and you see sharp edges and too-clear colors. IMG_2349

But always, the sea glass takes you by surprise. It’s a beach, with rock and shells and sand. Not these pieces of man-made substance that are re-made by the ocean.

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Linked to Jo’s Monday Walk 

 

Just for the shell of it

IMG_1496It’s a beach walk, for heaven’s sake. There should be shells, right? On my almost-daily walks on the beach, I watch the waves, I look at the birds, I notice the changes in the hillsides, I always admire the rocks along the way. I rarely pay attention to the shells. Today, though, just for the shell of it, it’s going to be a different walk from my usual.

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Shy shell, trying to hide

I have always comforted myself when I mistakenly step on a seashell by reminding myself “I am helping the beach make sand.”

Especially the sand dollars, whose crisp crunch I try to avoid, but it is inevitable that they turn into sand. We get hermit crab shells, or parts of them, clam shells, sea snail shells, shells from abalone and oyster. I love the shells that have urchins making a home on top.

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And curls in shells next to the smooth surface of a rock.

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shell

Hope you have a shell of a day. Happy Walking.

walking logolinked to Jo’s Monday Walk

 

Hawks 5

IMG_0859My new prowess as a hawk-eye didn’t last long. The next morning, our walk took us along the same path, and even though we saw the nest, we saw no birds.

That is, until we reached the clearing by the sand dunes and Stanley said,  “So, do you see your hawk?”

“Where? In the trees? Is it perching?”

“The tall tree. It’s the male.”

“The eucalyptus? The cedar?”

“Right there. Right ahead.”

We are what I estimate to be 1/4 mile away and I do not understand Stanley’s ability to spy out a 20-inch long bird hidden in a 50-foot tall tree from that distance. He continues to point and I continue to peer.

 

When we are directly below the tree, I see the hawk moments before it flies away. But he goes over to his hunting post closer to the dunes, and I hurry closer to get some photos.

IMG_1956Sadie is occupied with digging today, and I use the time to study this hawk. He does look like the one that is usually here, scanning the dunes for food. We have seen him swoop and pull out something – maybe a mouse or a frog – twice. On a couple previous visits, the second hawk, possibly the female, sits on a nearby tree and waits for food, sounding out if she becomes impatient. Today, we see only the one hawk, the hunter.

IMG_1943Soon, Sadie is panting with exertion and ready to go. As we approach the highway crosswalk, I pause to take a picture of the nest. One day, I hope to see a hawk there.

When I get home, I look at my nest photos, and this is what I see:IMG_1629

 

I think maybe mama hawk thinks the nest is ready!

Rock Walk 2

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We walk today on Morro Strand beach. Again, you ask? Yes. Yesterday the wind blew hard and furious all day. That means new sand will be turned-over, new rocks exposed. Let’s go see.

It’s fun to look for rocks that have a specific shape. A broken heart?…

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The sandstone is always a favorite, maybe because it is a challenge to get it to smile at the camera.

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There’s always a poser or two or three.

My favorites are the colorful groupings

and the shiny, shiny smooth black stones.

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But just about any rock will do. Happy walking.

walking logoLinked to Jo’s Monday Walk

Hawks 4

IMG_0859I beg Stanley’s help, because I am desperate to find their nest. I feel time slipping away as early spring passes with each day. I know that if these two are a pair, the breeding cycle is in full swing, and the nesting is under way. But where?

Stanley, of course, has witnessed some of this hanky-panky in the air. About a month ago, he saw two hawks twirling way up in the clouds. Another time, one of the hawks swooped in a spiral down and down, only to fly up to join the second in the sky. He tells me his stories, and I read about the significance in my reference books and on-line sources. It bothers me a bit that he knows instinctively what these raptors are doing, and I believe him only if I can read it in a book. He is always right – not an overly attractive thing in a spouse – even so, I beg his help in finding the hawk home.

IMG_2152I point at a bird flying up high. “Hawk?”

“Vulture.”

We continue to scan the cedar trees in the clearing, the tall eucalyptus and the scrub bush that grows tall enough that hawks might venture there. Usually, we find at least one hawk in this clearing by the dunes, but other times, we see them both in the row of tall eucalyptus by the highway.

“There are two, flying together. Over the dunes,” I point, and aim my camera.

“Vultures,” Stanley says with confidence.

 

IMG_2169I am about to acknowledge that I am drawn to vultures the way Stanley is drawn to hawks. I see them in the sky all the time. They pose for me. My camera loves they way they float in the wind and spread their long wings. I think they are beautiful and ferocious-looking. But I am not wiling to give up the pursuit of our neighborhood red-shouldered hawks.

Finally, Stanley sees one raptor fly into the tall cedar across the street from the clearing and pull out a twig. He – Stanley says it is the male – flies out to his post near the dunes. I try to catch the hawk in a photo, but he is gone before I can focus.

That night just before dark, as I stand on our front porch at the bungalow, I hear their screaming chatter. I can’t see them. They are about two blocks away, just past Hwy 1 (the Pacific Coast Highway). Their distinctive call, though, has become easy to recognize.

On our walk the next morning, I remind Stanley that today, we are looking for the nest. I remember hearing them in the eucalyptus just beyond the highway the night before, and scan in the tall trees for a jumble of sticks, bark, leaves and bramble. I stay, looking up, until my neck is sore and Sadie is impatient. Stanley says the nest will be high in the trees, and big. I see nothing but leaves and limbs and branches. We continue on.

Half-way through the empty lot where the eucalyptus grow, I look back. There it is. Protected by the outer branches, I see a tangle of green woven into the crook of two inner branches.

“There it is,” I say.

Stanley looks back, smiles. “Oh, yeah,” he says, grinning.

We don’t see the hawks nearby, and wonder why they have chosen a spot so close to the highway. But today’s discovery has me hoping that these two are settling in this close to us in the bungalow. Maybe I have some promise as a hawk-watcher after all.

 

 

Hawks 3

 

I am a full-out hawk snoop.

Every move, each turn of the head, each feather ruffled, I try to capture. What an inept photographer I am, but what fun I am having. Poor Stanley comes with me on just the morning walk, because I have become unbearable. My camera, though, comes along on both morning and afternoon adventures. I am elated when I can find a hawk or two on my own, because Stanley still has a mystical power and his soul connects with these raptors at a creature level. I am just a snoop.

 

Have you ever heard a hawk’s call? Such an insistent, scratching scream. Now, I have seen it up close in my photos. What an amazing experience. There is the two-syllable screaming plea, and the repetitive insistent screeching blast. I can now hear them from a block away and alter my walk to search for them, following their call. I know they are not really calling me – they are talking to each other. But, remember, I am now an unapologetic snoop. I interpret their calls as invitations.

I won’t bore you with all the hundreds of photos with which I am obsessed. Like Stanley, you may desert me and I will be left alone to adore these hawks. Because, certainly, even if all by myself, follow these raptors I must. I continue to try to identify them, but so far I only am guessing that there is a light colored one and a darker colored one. They look very much alike, though, these red-shouldered hawks. I hope they have a nest nearby.

So, with one last photo, I will leave you. This one is called Classic Hawk. Ahhh – beautiful – but which is it? Male or female?

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Estero Bluffs Walk

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Looking south across Estero Bay in Central California, Hollister Peak on the left and Morro Rock on the right

It is a pleasant and windy March day. The sun is bright and warm. As we start our walk, we must chose north or south along the bluffs. With close to 7 miles of trails, we won’t cover it all today. We start in the middle and chose to walk north, into the breeze, so that on our return trip, the wind will be comfortably at our backs.

Estero Bluffs is a state park, set aside from development to protect the natural area. Sea stacks, tidal pools, wetlands along the bluffs, native grasses and wildflowers will accompany us.

Before we get to the edge of the bluffs, we walk through the grassy wetlands along a level dirt trail. The wind disguises the over-bearing roar of the ocean, but the water is less than a quarter mile away, and I know there is a steep drop-off to the shallow beaches with their glorious low-tide pools. We pass by a few wildflowers – I think the violet-colored ones are blue-eyed grass, and there are also tidy tips (yellow), and thistle. A California golden poppy is just opening up.

The trail follows inches from the cliffs, and the sheer drop catches my attention because with all the beauty around, I am not paying attention where my feet land, and I really hope they don’t land over the edge. It’s a possibility, though, and I snap a picture of the place where the trail disintegrates, having crumbled with the last rainfall, but the photo turns out blurry due to my hyper-ventilation and shaking hands. I am not brave in the face of vertigo.

Curious about yesterday afternoon’s migration north of the sea gulls from my neighborhood, I scan the beach and water. There are hundreds sitting on the rocks and flying overhead. I wonder if these are their breeding grounds. There are also cormorants – dark black birds that are very clever fishers – , and coots floating in the surf.

I watch as a vulture scares up the flock of gulls, a hundred graceful flashes of white fleeing to the sky in one motion. I wonder if I should take a picture, but the joy of the moment is for me to simply watch. Some things are for the experience, and fumbling with a camera for me is still more a responsibility than a pleasure.

I see furry scrambling under the scruffy brush, and know there are ground squirrels close by. I doubt that any will pose long enough for me to grab a picture, then one does.

I reach the point where the bay meets the ocean. The water becomes more insistent, energetic. The powerful ocean aroma replaces the mild bay spray, and you can’t help but breathe deep that elixir that clears the head and lungs. I look north, where a stretch of sandy beach curves, continuing alongside the Pacific Coast Highway. But, this is my turn-about spot, and I am eager to have the wind at my back.

On my return, I notice several gorges, easy places to walk down to the beaches. Next visit, I will plan a low-tide adventure to explore some tide pools. There are no seals or sea otters in sight today, but later in the spring, there will be newborns on the rocks near shore.

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Just as I reach the trail head, the wind dies down a bit, and I regret having left so early. By the time I am at the car, I have pulled off my scarf and ear muffs, and am unzipping my fleece jacket. The sun is warm, and it is only a  6 minute drive home. Perhaps I’ll be back tomorrow, unless those pesky gulls take me another direction. Happy walking to all.

Linked to Jo’s Monday Walk