Monday, October 13, 2008

Pinnacles: west side

*breaking news: Here's my mom's post...

Well, our "final" destination for that day was to be Pinnacles National Monument on the west side. Or at least, so we thought. I'll get to that.

We had difficulty following our leader in our various cars. We had a lady from Louisiana join our car for the day since we had three of us in our car, leaving one spot if anyone wanted. She said that on other birding festivals she was on, they gave carpoolers a hot-pink paper to past on their rear window so they could follow each other easier. That would have been a brilliant idea ahead of time. My dad was driving and he's not so good at playing follow the leader, but it really wasn't his fault, the leader was no good at leading carpools. He drove too fast and never stopped at a yellow light or noticed if some of the cars behind him had to stop for said lights. We lost the leader early on and it turns out so did almost everyone else. He mentioned he would stop at a winery on the way where they had a nice pond or something like that. He said it was called Gonzales Winery. There is however, a major winery in Gonzales called Blackstone Winery. I used my iPhone to google Gonzales Winery and that was all that came up. It turns out, Blackstone IS the winery he was talking about and you wouldn't know it by the signage, but it has changed its name to Gonzales Winery. About 2 of the cars stopped there on the guess that was it. They found him. Another car ran across him on the highway to Pinnacles, they had stopped at a few other wineries and were delayed enough with that to meet up with him somehow.

We, however, just decided, fine, we'll go on to Pinnacles. We know how to get there and aren't going to search in every winery between "here" and there looking. When we got up there, there was another carload who also decided on the same thing. They had got there about 5 minutes before we did.

I didn't take any bird photos there. It was in the heat of the day and the birds weren't flying or hopping around. Here's the view from the parking lot on the west side of Pinnacles though :)

We stood around waiting for about 30 or more minutes and finally came as a concensus that the leader did mention we weren't going IN the park, but would be outside of it and we decided to look for them on the road outside. There weren't a lot of places they could be because the road was very windy and just barely big enough to be a two lane road.

There was a winery or two near the Pinnacles and the other group wanted to look there. We followed, but were nearly out of gas, so when we went off of the highway enough for our tastes, we stopped and let them look. Where we stopped was a really cool view of the pinnacles over grapevine covered hills. It was gorgeous and I would love to live someplace like that!

We then decided to head back down to the highway out of the area and decided to go birding on our own. We stopped at what looked like a good place - a ravine with a pullout. It was a pretty good place. I heard a lot of birds and managed to see a few, but it was too tree-covered to actually get a picture.

After we were about done with that, the other carload stopped behind us and asked what we saw, etc. Then we informed them we were about out of gas and that's why we stopped following them. We all decided to head back down further. After this, we finally ended up in a location the other cars were. It was an interesting area, and there were a few birds flitting about. Here's the images I managed to capture. I don't remember if there were any other birds there that I didn't get a picture of.
Above: Oak Titmouse on the right, and an unhappy Lesser Goldfinch on the left.
Below: Lesser Goldfinch taking a shower. Click on the image to enlarge in case you can't see it. It's about 1/3 from the bottom.
Spotted Towhee off in the scrubbrush behind that water tank. Bad picture, but pretty bird.
This apparently wasn't "the" spot, but yet another stopping point on the way. I don't think I was the only one getting cranky about that by then, so we stopped for a few minutes, and then went back to Watsonville to drop the Louisiana Lady back off and head home.


Lynne said...

I'm going to remember the hot pink paper in the window idea. On our sparrow workshop weekend we got left behind by our leader too.

I had to click to see the bathing goldfinch. Funny, but I never knew your given name is Heidi! I've always loved that name- in fact we almost named our daughter Heidi. It's no wonder I like you too!!!

Red said...

Aw :) Thanks Lynne! I've grown to like my name... as a kid, not so much. One thing for sure, only a fraction of people actually know how to spell the name.

Mary C said...

Even though our leader was less than stellar and "our" driver who didn't gas up when he should have, we still had an enjoyable day. Looking back on our 3-day event I still think that Friday was the best when it came to listing the various number of birds we saw and photographed.

Red said...

You're right... if we were listers, that was the way to go.

Should we list? lol


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