Sunday, February 21, 2010

California Seals, Pelicans, and more...

Dean promised (recently) "no more bird pics for a while!"...but I didn't make that promise! What is a trip to California without pictures of the wildlife there (and I don't mean frolicking starlets)?!

One of the highlights for me was a little trip up the coast to the La Jolla beaches. La Jolla is the next town north of San Diego, and has beautiful cliffs overlooking the Pacific as well as beautiful rock formations that are jutting out into the water. There is a little cove that is called (alternately) Casa Beach or Children's Beach. It's a shallow little inlet that is quiet, and shallow enough for small children to play in the water and not be overwhelmed by the large waves on the beach. A number of years ago some Harbor seals decided that they liked that cove too, and now the greatest attraction to that beach is that you can look down on dozens of seals as they take their naps. It also seems to be popular with the seal moms, as they bring their babies and young seals there! Seals need to sleep about 14 hours a day, so a sunny and protected beach is a great spot. In addition to many adult seals, we also saw many young seals, and were fortunate to see three babies. The people from the "Save the Harbor Seal" group (who were there to give out information) said that the babies were 5 and 3 days old. If they hadn't had the area roped off (mama seals will aggressively protect their young) it would have been tempting to rush onto the beach and pick one up to snuggle! I loved watching the bonding between the moms and babies, and even got to see a couple of the babies nursing (seals are mammals, remember?). While you can go to the zoo and see seals swimming and playing - it's such an incredible experience to see them in the wild, living their lives as they are meant to!

In addition to the seals, we also were able to get up close to some Brown pelicans. There were several sitting on the nearby rocks at Casa Beach. For some reason I didn't remember that Brown pelicans have some very pretty colors on them, and had never been close enough to see that their eyes are a bluish gray color! It was fun taking their picture, they were very willing subjects - almost posing for us, and being patient enough for me to try different camera settings to get 'just the right shot'.

In addition to the animal wildlife on the beach, no group of pictures is complete without some of the little human wildlife. Even though we don't have children, we love watching kids play on the beach - a time of pure joy in their lives! What can be more fun than jumping in the waves, or digging for treasure?!

The final leg of the trip was stopping by the Salton Sea (on the way home). The south end of the sea features the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge, though it's not very close to the water. We wanted a little closer vantage point, so we drove over to the boat launch area. We stayed for our "last California sunset" for this trip, and were not disappointed! There were a huge variety of birds out on the water, including some Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons. Silhouetted against the setting sun, and the water, it was a beautiful sight to end our "Carolyn, Melinda, and Dean's Excellent California Adventure"!

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