May 28th, 2010
A guest of mine told me that he saw two, young Great-horned owls in the group of Cypress trees next to the residence just above the Pt. Reyes Lifeboat Station. So, liking owls and thinking that there may be a nest I decided to drive out and check it out. Being Friday morning of the Memorial Day weekend, I had the road and Chimney Rock parking lot almost to myself. Once I got out of the FJ I heard multiple elephant seals vocalizing. I was surprised to hear so many seals, for this was May 28 and I thought they were gone by now. I walked over to the look-out to check it out and saw why there was so much noise, for there must have been about 30 elephant seals. Most were hauled out on the rock beach soaking up the sun. They looked like a bunch of hot dogs. Of course I forgot my binoculars. Typical! After about 30 minutes I headed over toward the residence area to look for the owls. Walking over I heard more vocalizing down by the fishing dock. So, I checked it out and sure enough I found a couple more elephant seals sunning themselves. Walking back up the hill, I caught a glimpse of something small and light brown below one of the rock outcroppings. It was a baby seal. It was tentatively heading toward the water. I didn’t see an adult, but did hear one a little further back in the rocks. Finally the little guy/gal entered the water and swam around a rock outcrop. I didn’t see it again.
As I walked around the far side of the lifeboat station I saw about 15 more elephant seals, but this time they were only about 20 yards from me. They too were enjoying the sunny day. This group had 3 little ones in it. Man they were cute. They acted just like little kids in that they couldn’t sit still. They’d lay in the sun for a while and then get up and waddle over to one spot and then to another. All the fidgeting got them chewed-out from their moms, just like humans kids get chewed-out for rousting around when mom is trying to take a nap.
Heading back to the parking lot I gave the Cypress grove one last look. I must be living right, because just as I was about to leave I caught a glimpse of two fuzz balls sitting in a tangle of Cypress boughs. Man, they really looked like adolescents, adult size but still wet behind the ears. I watched them for awhile, padded myself on the back for finding them and headed back to the FJ, totally satisfied.
May 11th, 2010
Sunset Magazine’s May 2010 issue lists boat-in camping on Tomales Bay as one of its top 25 secret camping spots. Well, thanks a lot, for if it was a secret, it’s not a secret anymore. But, being a local, I’ve got to admit that it’s tough to beat a paddle across Tomales Bay on a calm, warm day. If it’s windy, forget it because you’re gonna work. If you don’t own a kayak or just don’t want to drag yours along, you can rent one at Blue Water Kayak (www.bwkayak.com) or Point Reyes Outdoors (www.pointreyesoutdoors.com). Both offer great guided trips (some with food) if you don’t want to go it alone. If you plan on camping on any of the beaches, you will need to get a camping permit from the Pt. Reyes National Seashore. You can get the permit at the Park’s “Bear Valley Visitor Center” in Olema. Check out their website at www.nps.gov/pore for more information.
May 4th, 2010
I didn’t have any guests last night at Roundstone Farm, so I was able to be at Wildcare when the hospital opened at 9:00 a.m. to pick-up the young hawk that I had taken into them yesterday. Turned out that it was probably just shook up and had no apparent injuries. I waited only a few minutes until the staff brought the hawk to me in a card board carrier. The young lady gave me instrutions as to how to transport it and precautioned me about not being directly over the carrier when I released it. I released the hawk immediately upon arriving at Roundstone Farm. I figured it had enough excitement to last it a life time. I must say though, I really wanted to hold it and spend some time checking it out. I tell you one thing, the girl at Wildcare was right…one didn’t want to be looking into that carrier when opening the top. Man, that hawk was out of there in a flash! It was out of sight before I could even raise my camera for a picture. But, I at least got a couple photos of it while it was in the carrier. It’s nice to know that I probably will run into it again. I’ll look at every red-shouldered from now on wondering if it is the one I took to San Rafael and back.
May 3rd, 2010
As I was pulling out of the driveway this morning heading down to do breakfast at Roundstone Farm, I saw a young Red Shouldered hawk standing on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. A pick-up truck had just missed it. I stopped the FJ and jumped out to try to wave off any cars coming up the hill. Luckily, there were few that early in the morning. The hawk was just standing there, it didn’t appear like it had been hit, but it didn’t make any attempt to get away from me as I came up to it. I knew it would get hit if I didn’t do something, for the neighborhood crows were already gathering for a kill. So, I took my jacket off and threw it over the hawk. I then grabbed the whole bundle, hawk and jacket. The hawk was surprisingly light and it didn’t put up much of a scuffle. Still I remembered a similar encounter I had with a Great Horned owl a couple of years ago. Similar situation, for it too was standing on the road, but in that case it had been hit and had lost an eye. I threw a jacket on that one too. But unlike the hawk, that owl’s talons went right through that jacket. I learned from that experience that you had to hold that baby pretty tight, there was no “nice owl, I just want to see what you look like.” I held on tight until I was able to put it into a dog carrier. Same thing this time with the hawk, however, at least this hawk didn’t smell like skunk, which was a major prey for the owl. After breakfast I went up to the house to see how the hawk was doing. Seemed to be ok, so I put a pair of welding gloves on and reached in to grab it for a better look. Man, what a set of talons. It puffed its feathers up till it looked twice its size. I thought about letting it loose to see if it could fly, but thought better of it, because if it couldn’t fly and it got away from me, the crows and scrub jays would have killed it for sure. So, like the owl, I took it to Wildcare Animal Hospital in San Rafael. After about 20 minutes and donating $100, I left with the dog carrier, for the hawk was in good hands. The volunteer on duty gave me its patient number if I wanted to call back later to see how the hawk was doing. On the way home I did a couple of errands and stopped to get a latte. I parked in the shade and read for about 10 minutes. Forty-five minutes later I woke up and drove home. Actually, it was probably more like an hour and a half. (Isn’t life grand?) Anyway,when I got home, there was a message on the machine telling me that the hawk was ok and that I could pick it up the next day to bring it back to Olema. The caller noted that the hawk might be one of a pair that was taking care of a couple of young ones, so it was needed. Cool, I get to bring it home. Not like the last time with the owl, for they wouldn’t give it back to me to let go where I had found it. Wildcare kept that owl a little too long, I think. It died. Karen and I were bummed about that owl for years. We’ve been given a second chance with this one.