In the shadow of the Golden Gate

It’s hard to believe that my big adventure began just 3 weeks ago! I was unboxed in Leica Store Miami, in Florida and immediately enjoyed some of Greater Miami’s avian treasures in the hands of Rangel Diaz. Along the white sand shores of Crandon Park, I first enjoyed the splendor of coastal wildlife – Resident Snowy Plovers dancing alongside Piping Plovers visiting from points North. Least Terns displayed, Atlantic Bottle-nosed Dolphins cruised by just offshore, and introduced Spiny Iguanas dashed across the dunes… so much to see! At the Galveston Featherfest with David La Puma along on the Gulf Coast of Texas. A similar landscape to what I’d seen in Florida, low and flat with extensive beaches and beautiful warm waters, but there were so many new birds & wildlife to see… migrants like Prothonotary Warblers, lovely Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, fields full of grass-loving shorebirds, and that unforgettable view of the Yellow Rail! Golden mustard brown-back with warm brown feather centers, flashing unmistakable white on the wing as tiny legs dangled below. A short but amazingly satisfying view of this incredibly secretive marsh bird weakly fluttering away and then disappearing once again into the tall marsh grasses. What a rare treat to meet a bird so rarely seen! At Florida’s Birding and Photofest held in St. Augustine the following week there were more treats. Stunning male Cape May Warblers feeding in the canopy, and graceful Swallow-tailed Kites floating just above the moss-covered oaks!

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA

With my latest adventure however, came a vastly different and spectacular view from what I’d seen in my first 2 weeks. I once again flew across the gulf but then left familiar territory as I angled NW and flew another 4 hours to San Francisco, California (passing over fantastic birding locales along the way like Southeastern Arizona). Just outside the San Francisco airport, a wondrous new landscape with steep-sloped forests predominated by enormous conifers awaited. In the waters below the bridge Western and Clark’s Grebes swam in waters alongside Common Dolphins, California Sea Lions and Harbor Seals. An adult Peregrine Falcon cacked and wailed at a young Red-tailed Hawk that had the audacity to perch near his bridge, and White-throated Swifts seemingly laughed at the scene as they raced by! By the end of my time at the Point Reyes Bird Festival, I’ve appreciated over 260 bird species, amazing scenic vistas, and many other fabulous views of all sorts of wildlife. The latest details are forthcoming, but not much time to sit and chat in this race against time, particularly now as we’ve reached the peak of the spring migration season in these areas.