Friday, April 26, 2019. Point Reyes Peninsula. One of the best things about living in the San Francisco Bay Area is that no matter where you are, you’re not far from nature. This is a place where you can finish your morning chores and still make it to Point Reyes for an afternoon of hiking and photography, have supper at the Inverness Park Tap Room, and be home at a reasonable hour.
We went for the wildflowers — having sent a fellow blogger there a couple weeks earlier — and ended up with more than we expected. The wildflowers were bountiful, but more subtle and intimate than at the Carrizo Plain. My wife had a heyday — and not too much hay fever — shooting them.
I found myself more drawn to critters.
Why did the coyote cross the road?
To give me a better angle, of course. Pierce Point Road crests just before you get to Pierce Ranch on the northern end of the peninsula. After the crest is a spectacular panorama of the Pacific, the northern peninsula, Tule elk, the ranch, and right in the middle of the road, a very handsome coyote. I stopped to get a photo. He sauntered off the road into the meadow overlooking the ranch, leapt over the taller flowers until he was framed by the barn, and stopped and tuned and posed with a smile. Then wandered off to sniff the flowers.
Swallows are very difficult.
They’re fast. They’re agile. They change direction at the whim of the insects they’re chasing. And they’re small. Tiny. 600mm (equivalent) lens? Ha! What’s that blurry speck at the edge of the frame? A swallow? Might be. It’s hard to tell. Shoot. Swallow equals black smudge. Again and again and again. Until Friday. There must’ve been a convention. A small flock of four barn swallow conventioneers were taking turns bombarding a flower for its tasty contents, and as they approached their buffet, they slowed down and hovered. The four shots below of one of them were all taken within seven seconds. Although it may not look like it, they are in sequence. They kept at it — and I kept shooting — until a turkey vulture glided down from a ridge, altitude six feet, and sailed right across the swallows’ food fest, gave me the evil eye, and flew off. The swallows scattered. Wouldn’t you? But I got my shots and they got their goodies.
Crows are easy.
But no less impressive because of it. Pierce Point Ranch is only about ten miles as the crow flies from Bodega Bay, where Hitchcock’s The Birds was filmed. This one was not making any effort to intimidate, however. This one was making repeated straight-line passes parallel to the trail so I could get a perfect shot. Why else?
More to come.
(Nikon D500, Tamron 100–400mm F/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.2; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)