An Afternoon Whale Watching…

Every time we have visited the coast we have wanted to go out on the ocean and do some whale watching. Usually we are in quite a rush and can’t quite fit it in but this time we had a couple of quiet days in Oceanside, CA.  So we were pleasantly surprised to find a local business that held daily tours at very reasonable rate so we decided to give it a try…

The ship…IMG_5295Our crew….

IMG_5296IMG_5298Sailboats on the horizon…IMG_5316Grey Whales!!IMG_5416-EditThere she blows…IMG_5430-EditIMG_5445-Edit IMG_5481-Edit IMG_5485-Edit IMG_5509-Edit

Headed back to land…IMG_5540Past the buoy…IMG_5585-Edit IMG_5606

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Tule Elk…

IMG_2787 IMG_2878The Tule Elk is the smallest of the North American elk species, the male (bull) elk weighing an average of 450 to 500 pounds (200 to 225 kg), and the female (cow) weighing between 350 to 425 pounds (150 to 200 kg). Tule Elk have a light-beige coat with a dark brown mane surrounding their neck. The rump of the Tule elk is white to a very light tan. The average length of a Tule Elk is 7 feet, and is 4 to 5 feet high at the shoulders. Similar to the Rocky Mountain Elk, a mature male Tule Elk will typically have 6 points on each of the antlers.

The Tule Elk was once known to inhabit most of central California from the east coast to the Sierra Nevada Foothills, but today the Tule Elk are primarily located in the Tule Elk State Reserve in California, which was created in 1932 to protect the once extinct animal. At one point in the Tule Elk’s history, there were 400,000 to 500,000 elk roaming free in most of California. At the low point, there may have been as few as 20 to 30. A farmer/cattleman by the name of Henry Miller was determined to save this majestic animal, which for him started in the 1870’s – 50 years before Tule Elk State Reserve was created for the preservation of this almost extinct animal. The heard in Tule Elk State Reserve population is now 2,500 to 3,000 head of elk. The State of California has also transplanted the Tule Elk into other wildlife reserves where the animal once roamed.

For more information please visit here…IMG_2840

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Turquoise….

These bighorn sheep are beside a naturally turquoise lake formed by glacial rock flour…IMG_0197Blue, frozen glacial ice…IMG_1057-Edit IMG_0931 IMG_0992-Edit

Got Milk?. . .
The beautiful turquoise color shown in the photo is the true color of the water. Sometimes called “glacial milk”, the unusual color is due to the presence of “rock flour”, which consists of tiny clay particles formed as rocks stuck to the bottom and sides of a glacier grind against bedrock. This abrasion reduces some of the bedrock to a fine powder that looks like the flour used to make bread. As the ice melts this rock flour is exposed and transported away by meltwater, often into a nearby tarn.

They won’t settle down! . . . .
Meltwater also transports pebbles, sand, and silt into the lake, but these larger rock particles quickly settle to the bottom of the lake. In contrast, the much smaller particles of rock flour remain suspended in the water until the fall when the meltwater stops flowing or the lake freezes over. Only then does the water become calm enough to let rock flour settle to the bottom. A core sample from the middle of the lake would probably reveal alternating layers of silt and clay called “varves”. . . . One layer of each (varve) for every year the lake has been in existence.

Why so blue? . . .
Sunlight includes many different wavelengths of light ranging from the longer “reds” to the shorter “violets” (ROYGBIV). A white T-shirt is white because it reflects all of the wavelengths, a black shirt is colorless because it absorbs all of the wavelengths, and a red shirt is red because it absorbs the OYGBIV and reflects the R (red wavelengths). Apparently the tiny particles of rock flour suspended in the lake are just the right size to reflect more of the blues and some of the greens than any of the other wavelengths.

Information from formontana.net

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Blue Jays…

We had a huge surprise in the bird feeder this morning…

 

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We have never seen Blue Jays around our place.

Cool Facts

  • Thousands of Blue Jays migrate in flocks along the Great Lakes and Atlantic coasts, but much about their migration remains a mystery. Some are present throughout winter in all parts of their range. Young jays may be more likely to migrate than adults, but many adults also migrate. Some individual jays migrate south one year, stay north the next winter, and then migrate south again the next year. No one has worked out why they migrate when they do.
  • Blue Jays are known to take and eat eggs and nestlings of other birds, but we don’t know how common this is. In an extensive study of Blue Jay feeding habits, only 1% of jays had evidence of eggs or birds in their stomachs. Most of their diet was composed of insects and nuts.
  • The Blue Jay frequently mimics the calls of hawks, especially the Red-shouldered Hawk. These calls may provide information to other jays that a hawk is around, or may be used to deceive other species into believing a hawk is present.
  • Tool use has never been reported for wild Blue Jays, but captive Blue Jays used strips of newspaper to rake in food pellets from outside their cages.
  • Blue Jays lower their crests when they are feeding peacefully with family and flock members or tending to nestlings.
  • At feeders in Florida, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Florida Scrub-Jays, Common Grackles, and gray squirrels strongly dominate Blue Jays, often preventing them from obtaining food.
  • The pigment in Blue Jay feathers is melanin, which is brown. The blue color is caused by scattering light through modified cells on the surface of the feather barbs.
  • The black bridle across the face, nape, and throat varies extensively and may help Blue Jays recognize one another.
  • The oldest known wild, banded Blue Jay lived to be at least 17 years 6 months old.
  • For more info, please visit here…

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What was even more cool was a Kestrel came out of no where and tried attacking one, luckily the Blue Jay escaped.

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