Date: May 25, 2015 and many times before
Place: Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Coordinates: 36.518707, -121.949786
Length: about 3 miles round trip from Headland Cove to China Cove and back
Point Lobos was one of the first California parks I visited, even before I came to reside in the Golden State. I visited this park many times since, always taking there visitors from out of town. Together with Yosemite, Point Lobos State Park stars at the top of the list of tourists in California, and rightly so. In this fairly small area is one of the most stunning Pacific coastal segments and it's mind-blowing rich with wildlife year-round.
On my latest visit there last month I also witnessed the splendor of coastal wildflowers that were still at blooming peak while their inland relatives have already dried up and gone to seed.
The photos I present here are mainly from that last visit, plus a few more from two other visits to this park on July and October of 2011. Do click on the photos for a larger view.
|Headland Cove, May 2015|
There are several hiking trails in Point Lobos but so far I only hiked one of them, again and again. When time is limited we go straight to the best - the Shore Trail.
We usually drive directly to the small Headland Cove parking lot and, with some patience, manage to get a parking space that someone else had just vacated.
There, floating on the kelp that fills the cove, are sea otters. Once on the brink of extinction, now they made a wonderful recovery. The best place to see them is at Headland Cove, but they can also be spotted on other places along the coastline.
|Sea Otter, July 2011|
|Turkey vultures fighting over a floating carcass, May 2015|
|Sea Lions at Headland Cove, May 2015|
|Harbor Seals, October 2011|
|Sticky Monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus), May 2015|
|Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja affinis), May 2015|
|North Coast Dudleya (Dudleya farinosa), May 2015|
|North Coast Dudleya (Dudleya farinosa), July 2011|
|Common Ice Plant (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum), May 2015|
|Coastal Gumweed (Grindelia hirsutula var. maritima), May 2015|
|Ocean Bluff Milkvetch (Astragallus nuttallii var. virgatus), May 2015|
|Catterpillar on a Monterey Cypress, May 2015|
This pelagic cormorant moved to adjust herself, revealing a new, shiny egg :-)
|Pelagic Cormorant, May 2015|
|Pigeon Guillemont, July 2011|
|Pacific Brown Pelicans, May 2015|
|"The Slot", May 2015|
|Coastal Tarweed (Deinandra corymbosa), May 2015|
|Purple Sea Urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus), July 2011|
|Black Oystercatcher, October 2011|
I wonder what it told its friends after going back to sea.
This particular gull didn't appreciate the rule of no feeding wildlife. This photo was taken after it hopped off a car where it had left a souvenir.
|Western Gull, October 2011|
|California Horkelia (Horkelia californica), May 2015|
|Golden Brodiaea (Triteleia ixiodes), May 2015|
|Harvest Brodiaea (Brodiaea elegans), May 2015|
|Ladies' tobacco (Pseudognaphalium californicum), July 2011|
|Pocket Gopher, May 2015|
|White-crowned Sparrow, juvenile, July 2011|
|Oak Titmouse, July 2011|
|Say's Phoebe, October 2011|
|Hairy Woodpecker, May 2015|
China Cove is gorgeous to look at, but it is also accessible via a steep staircase. On previous visits in warmer weather we had gone down and spent some time at the beach. On our last visit Papa Quail and his company settled for the overlook and stayed up.
|Great Egret, May 2015|
A large colony of Brandt Cormorant, beautiful with their iridescent blue throats, were very active building nests, mating and taking turns sitting on the eggs.
|Brandt Cormorant, May 2015|
|Brandt Cormorants at each others' throats, May 2015|
|Bugle Hedgenettle (Stachys ajugoides), May 2015|
|Monterey Cypress (Hesperocyparis macrocarpa), May 2015|
Both my mother and my elder chika were hungry and impatient so I started up the hill to call the others down. I didn't have to go too far - they were already on their way back. But then I spotted a bee plant embedded in the poison oak at the trail side.
Bee plant is very difficult to photograph. I was never able to get a good quality photo of the flower with all parts in focus. And I mentioned that to Papa Quail. He removed the big zoom lens from his camera and handed me the heavy cylinder to hold while he borrowed the macro lens from our friend and installed it on his camera. With that setup he took some shots of the flowers which, of course, came out fabulous.
|Bee Plant (Scrophularia californica), May 2015|
Many thanks to members of the California Wildlife Appreciators group for their help in identifying the gopher!