Most of December 2021 saw rain and cold weather – at last! It doesn’t change the drought situation here in California, but it does help. I hope the bits of green here will soon spread over the hills, which have been dead and brown for far too long. Rain in the single-digit percentage points shows up on the weather forecast, but with the climate situation it is impossible to predict anything.
This is from the Chumash Trial area near my house. It is the same area where I spotted the Acorn Woodpecker in yesterday’s photo. I love this area because of the wonderful oak trees down this trail. Sadly, many were lost in the Woolley Fire (I think that is the one) from a few years ago that swept through this area.
One of the fun things about digital images, or digitized film images, is the playing around in post and creating presets. This one I rather like – it gives a sense of the softness that new growth brings to the world. Spring is coming, early of course in my neck of the woods, and the rains are the reason for the rainy season.
Finally a day that is freezing (for SoCal!) or pouring cats and dogs . . . I managed to get out for a hike today down Chumash Trail nearby. It is filled with old-growth oak trees, and it has been a bit since I have been there as the plague and other things limited some of my activities. It felt so good to be outdoors at last!
The trail itself is easy, mostly flat. The problem is that you really cannot go scrambling around the hills as poison oak is not your friend. This can limit where you decide to wander.
As it is midweek, no one was out. But birds and bees and gnats were – and so were a small herd of deer that went bounding through the wood. Sadly, I wasn’t quick enough to catch them on my camera. But, I was lucky to catch this woodpecker, high up in a telephone pole full of acorns cached there by the local acorn woodpeckers!
Woodpeckers are pretty hard to miss – tat, tat, tat! I had no idea what kind this one was at all, so I followed this ink to learn a bit more. I didn’t know there are 15 kinds in my neighborhood. What made this particular one interesting was there was no red to be easily found on his head. His position hid the top of his head, which is where the small bit of red is to be found on the bird. Most woodpeckers have a very noticeable red top or breast or throat, but this one was not at all the usual ones I have been able to see. I had my Nikon z6ii with the excellent 24-200 lens attached, and I had to be quick to catch this guy – even though I was far below, he was canny enough to realize 2 legs, human, time to flee!
I may be wrong. but I am pretty sure this guy is an Acorn Woodpecker . . . he just wasn’t inclined to show me who he really is.
Corona virus and social isolation! In Northern California, 6 or 7 counties around San Francisco have issued “stay in place” orders. The only exceptions are to go grocery shopping and for medical appointments. Maybe some exercise. And, of course, keep your distance. It could be a crime if you get busted.
Where I live, there are similar, though not as draconian, edicts. Starting today, a few stores are offering special hours for those over 65, pregnant, or disabled, which can help those who might have a problem getting things. The rules here in Ventura County are that anyone 75 or older must stay home. People 70 and older must stay home if they have special health issues which put them more at risk. I am not in any of these categories, but can creep in for special hours!
So, for social distancing, going for a hike is a great option. Peaceful. People won’t be out so much. I went a few days ago, X100V in hand, and tried it out in various ways. One thing I did end up with were a lot of blurry pictures. Realizing that, I upped the iso and dropped the f/stop a tad. Little things like that are all part of learning a camera. And the 23mm focal length – equivalent to 35mm – is a bit of a learning curve, too.
Photography is a great way to get out of the house and enjoy the isolation!
Today we went up to the Reagan Library to view the Thomas Fire from afar. Here, you can see it from the hills around Santa Paula, California, past Ventura on the coast, moving toward Carpinteria in Santa Barbara County. Nearly 200,000 acres have burned in 8 days through rough back country. Valiant efforts by fire fighters from around the country are helping, but here and elsewhere in Southern California houses and animals and people are all suffering.
I’ve been rather busy painting and drawing, and keep meaning to get out the camera along with the pen and ink and colors and paper. As well as that, I keep looking for things to draw, and this is where having about 20 years of digital photos is pretty nice – and rather overwhelming! Looking for things to draw prompted me to look through my work. Some is good, some is bad, as in any creative hobby! Success varies and ideas of success vary with the time of viewing.
This is a tree that I visit every spring: the orchid flower tree, or orchid tree, or something like that. It is covered with these ridiculously luscious flowers, and seems as if it is from another world altogether.
Salvia is the Latin name for sage. There are so many kinds! Russian, Mexican, hummingbird, white, purple . . . the California climate where I live is perfect for so many. If I could, I would fill my garden with them – the pungent aroma, the colors, the variety are endlessly fascinating. Additionally, they are easy to grow and don’t need much water.