Sept 15, 2016 - Driving along the Pacific Coast

I hustled out of Potwisha Campground early on Thursday morning so that I could get to the Big Sur area around noon and hopefully nab a campsite.  This is a very popular vacation destination south of Monterey on the Pacific Coast and the only campgrounds with openings also did not take reservations.  Still, midweek and off season, I expected to be okay.  I was, but just barely.  I got one of the last two open sites at the Kirk Creek Campground.   It was a beautiful site, on a grassy lawn, at the edge of a cliff, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and a rocky beach below.   One of the things that held me up was the astounding beauty along Highway One as it hugged the coast.  The ocean was sparkling blue.   Also there were a few birds on the beaches, including an impressive Long-billed Curlew with two Whimbrels.   Fourteen miles north of Cambria, I had to take a long stop at an Elephant Seal rookery.  I vowed to take an even longer stop here on the way back to LA.   I've been trying to see a Black Oystercatcher for the last few years, each time that I've been out to visit Mike.  At the elephant seal rookery, I finally saw one. 

 

Black Oystercatcher, San Simeon, California - 9/15/2016

 

Long-billed Curlew, along Highway One, Calif - 9/15/2016

 

Two Whimbrels with a Long-billed Curlew, along Highway One, Calif - 9/15/2016

 

 

Also at the rookery, this brazen sea gull posed for a picture.  I was rewarded for the effort by finding he was a life bird for me, a Western Gull.  I've probably been seeing a lot of these guys on the Pacific Coast, I just didn't know it.

 

Western Gull - orange-yellow orbital ring, stocky bill, unstreaked neck - San Simeon, Calif - 9/15/2016

 

Stop tickling me.  I can't stand it!!!

 

Sept 15, 2016 - Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

    Once I was set up at my campsite, I had to make a choice of where to spend my precious few days at this wonderful location.  All the National Forests in the area were closed to the public because of wildfire danger, including the one that was right across the highway from my campsite.  I decided to drive further up north and visit the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.  This is a good wildlife viewing park.  The day was too overcast for really sharp pictures and it was cool, in the fifties.  Specialties here include whale watching, seal watching, sea otters, a large bird rookery, beautiful trees,  and many trails to see flowers, birds, and small mammals.   It was off season for the whales and nesting birds, but I did see a large number of California Sea Lions and a few California Sea Otters.  There were lots of Pelagic Cormorants, some warblers, and a Peregrine Falcon.

 

 

Pelagic Cormorant, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Calif - 9/15/2016

 

 

California Sea Otter, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Calif - 9/15/2016

 

 

Pelagic Cormorants, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Calif - 9/15/2016

 

Peregrine Falcon, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Calif - 9/15/2016

 

Sept 16, 2016 - Limekiln State Park

I spent all day Friday at this little jewel in the Big Sur region.  If you can get a spot there, it would be a beautiful spot to camp out among the redwoods.  There aren't many sites, so call 800-444-7275 well in advance to get a reservation.  This park has some big redwoods, but not as big as the two thousand year old giants farther north  These are at most 125 years old.  In just three years, between 1887 and 1890, the Rockland Lime and Lumber Company cut down the first growth forest to burn it to heat lime kilns.  When the lime was all gone, they pocketed their cash and left.  Beginning in 1994, the Save the Redwoods League, together with the American Land Conservancy, began an effort to restore this site.  Now it is a pleasant location with many young redwoods (which are still big), several easy hiking trails that follow bubbling streams, a 100 foot waterfall, an ocean beach, and a camping and picnic area.  It is a very small park, but it attracts a good crowd, many of them honeymooners.   I spent several hours reading "The Sacred Universe", sitting on a bench made of redwood, surrounded by redwoods.  It is in places like this park that we can save the Earth.   After feeling the greatness and power of the world that we are a part of, it is impossible to not want to protect it.  Thinking that the world was given to us by a deity to use for our own designs is what allowed people to cut down and burn two thousand year old giants and steal them from the future generations.  They actually thought that by making a little cash for their families and employing a few workers for a few years that they were doing something good.    A lot of terrible damage was done to the environment in the late 1800's.  In the 1900's many dangerous chemicals were dumped on the ground.  It will take a big effort for today's generations and future generations to clean this up.  The first step is to stop the devastation.  The biggest part of that is getting our own heads screwed on straight. 

 

 A Red-tailed Hawk outside the park, Limekiln State Park, Calif - 9/16/2016

 

Western Bluebird, Limekiln State Park, Calif - 9/16/2016

 

Brown Creeper on a Redwood, Limekiln State Park, Calif - 9/16/2016

 

 Limekiln State Park, Calif - 9/16/2016

 

 

 Limekiln State Park, Calif - 9/16/2016