Sept 18, 2016 - Ragged Point

Not running out of gas is a necessary survival skill when you go adventuring.  I stopped at Ragged Point, a little town south of Big Sur to refuel.  The gas here was $5 per gallon, about a dollar cheaper than a little north on the highway, which I was told is the most expensive gas in the nation.  I also went to the bathroom and got a 24 ounce container of excellent decaf coffee.  So that means I will be stopping again soon.  No problem with that, this must be one of the most beautiful highways in the world.  While I was wandering around this peaceful stop, I walked down a little, private trail that overlooked the ocean.  It was very cloudy, so you couldn't see far.  The mist had a warm and secretive quality.  Behind the restaurant is a beautiful garden that I walked through.  The sun came out and butterflies and hummingbirds started flying around.  Also, there were Brewer's Blackbirds and a Stellar Jay showing off.  The jay has a fancy dark crest and the blackbird has a tell-tale white eye ring.  I saw the blackbirds and jays all through the week but the lighting was so good that these pictures came out better.  The yellow stuff on the hummingbird beaks is pollen.

 

 

Anna's Hummingbird, Ragged Point, California - 9/18/2016

 

 

Anna's Hummingbird, Ragged Point, California - 9/18/2016

 

 

Anna's Hummingbird, Ragged Point, California - 9/18/2016

 

 

Stellar's Jay, Ragged Point, California - 9/18/2016

 

Brewer's Blackbird, Ragged Point, California - 9/18/2016

 

Sept 18, 2016 - at a crossroads in the interior

 This picture is for the birders who might question this sighting.  It is an unusual bird and one that is a little bit outside its normal range.  On the other hand, it is so striking that it is hard to misidentify it.  Its a really big bird.  Because of it's extremely long tail, it is longer than a crow.  At 6 ounces, it is double the weight of a Blue Jay, almost three times the weight of a robin, but less than half the weight of a crow.  It is a very dark black, all over, except for bright white shoulders and a bright white belly.  

My GPS had routed me off the coast and down a country highway.  It had me take an exit from one highway and I was stopped at a crossroads at a stop sign.  The topography was extremely arid grassland, with barren mountains nearby.  The edges of the road were fenced, indicating possibly used for grazing.  I looked to my right and saw this huge, amazing bird staring at me.  It was on the fence and only about ten feet away.  I picked up my camera and slowly raised it to get the shot.  I focused, the bird flew, I pressed the shutter.  So I only got it flying away.  But is good enough for a 100 percent positive id.  You can see the all black head, back and tail.  The belly is white and the very long tail is obvious.  The only question could be, "is the bill black or yellow?"  I saw only black and in the picture it looks black, so it isn't the Yellow-billed Magpie. 

 

 

Black-billed Magpie, California - 9/18/2016