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Thursday, March 19, 2009

California Road Trip

This week my family is going on a good old-fashioned road trip to Monterey, California. We left the island on Wednesday, and today headed from Portland down into north central California. I always seem to forget how beautiful southern Oregon is, as the drive on I5 south of Eugene really is pleasant with great rural views and beautiful green rolling hills. Here's a view out of the car window as we drove through the Siskiyou Mountains:

Just across the California border we got a great view of Mt. Shasta:

The highway then goes right by one of Mt. Shasta's satellite cones, Black Butte, which was still snow-covered despite the warm sunshine.

There were even some good wildlife sightings on the drive. I saw my first-ever skunk (well, live one anyway....), which was exciting. My dad and I also get a kick out of testing ourselves to see how many birds we can identify going 50+ mph. Today featured a pretty decent list:

Canada goose
Great blue heron
Egret sp.
Turkey vulture
Bald eagle
Red-tailed hawk
Northern harrier
Ring-billed gull
Rock dove
Mourning dove
Magpie sp.
American crow
Common raven
American robin
European starling
Red-winged blackbird
Brewer's blackbird
Western meadowlark

We enjoyed seeing the ring-billed gulls at a rest area in Weed, California - it's been a while since I've seen one and they looked strikingly different compared to all the glaucous-winged gulls I've been seeing. In their crisp, clean breeding plumage they really looked beautiful and very bright:

It's warm enough to walk outside tonight in a T-shirt, and I'm more than happy to trade the pine trees for palm trees for a few days. Hopefully the warmth and sunshine will continue for our whale-watching trip tomorrow out of Monterey.


Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Lovely R-B Gull. Can't be long before they are breeding this side of the pond, there's hundreds of them now! Only first recorded in UK this week in 1973.

Monika said...

I'm so interested in how all these bird species overlap for us on opposite sides of the globe. I guess the R-B gulls have established a population of their own over there after the first ones found their way there in the 1970s?