Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Point Reyes - Feb 13, 2013

With our first full day of exploring ahead of us, we had no problem getting up early and we were out before 6:30AM.   We had been serenaded by a pair of Great-horned Owls the night before which was really nice.

According to our car, the temp outside was a balmy 38 degrees.  We had decided to drive all the way out to the lighthouse today since it was closed on Wednesdays and we thought that would give us a better chance of finding a weasel in that area. As we drove past Inverness and up the hill to the park we saw lots of low lying fog.  Hoping that it would lift enough to see things along the road we continued on towards the lighthouse but the fog got thicker and thicker.

We decided to take a detour up to the Estero trail head.  We have always felt that the road leading to the trail parking lot would be a great way to see critters in the surrounding hills but we never have seen anything of interest here...yet we keep trying.  Unfortunately, the fog stayed thick and the only things we saw were cows.

The road to the parking lot goes right through an open pasture and the cows have no problem getting in the way.  Since we were driving slow anyway, I pulled up next to one of the cows and rolled down Karen's window getting ready to say something witty (I can't remember what, but I am sure it was good).  Before I could say anything, Karen nonchalantly asked the cow "Do you know the way to the lighthouse"?  The cow showed its disdain for that question by signaling some buddies who then proceeded to saunter into the middle of the road and stop...butts pointed right at us.  That will teach us to ask for directions.  With some gentle nudging of my bumper (just kidding) the cows eventually dispersed and we had a new tag line for the trip.

On the way out we decided to abandon the journey to the lighthouse due to the fog and instead headed out to Pierce Point with hopes that there was no fog there.  This turned out to be a great choice.  There was some fog but it was great photography fog:

Pierce Point Ranch

Pierce Point Ranch in the Fog

And the Tule Elk were once again close to the road.
Tule Elk

We had hit Pierce Point at a perfect time.  There was no wind out there and no one in the parking lot.   So, we decided to head out on the Pierce Point trail to look for weasel and anything else that might cross our path (but mainly weasel).

The start of the trail was basked in a combination of morning sun and fog:

Pierce Point Trail head

Further along the trail, the fog had just about disappeared except for one large strip that was quickly flowing over the hill like a waterfall.  It was a "fogfall".

Pierce Point Trail

There was a huge group of male elk hanging out quite near the trail.  It's not often I am able to use the following line without getting slapped...."Nice rack!".

Tule Elk

The entire hike was very scenic and enjoyable.  But the only wildlife to speak of was lots of birds and a coyote:


The rest of the day consisted of more cruising along the roads and a hike at Abbott's Lagoon once again looking for weasel.  But, we didn't see much of interest except a few coyotes in bad light and lots of birds.  We did finally make it out to the lighthouse where we saw three gray whales, but once again no luck on the weasel.

That night we drove around again and had much better luck.  First, the deer and rabbits were out again at the visitor center.  But, tonight they were joined by a Gray Fox that trotted across the parking lot through our headlights.  It was off into the night before we could get any good looks but it was neat to see anyway.  On the way back to the cottage, I saw some eye-shine along the road by a house.  Due to its location I was thinking house cat.  As we drove up to where the eye-shine was I had my flashlight at the ready which was a good thing since it perfectly illuminated another Gray Fox not five feet from us.  The fox turned and looked at us for a few seconds and then ducked through a fence.  It was a fantastic look but I am kicking myself for not having the camera more ready since I might have been able to get a shot.  Oh well, the memory is intact.

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