Sunday, November 2, 2008

2008 October 31 - Pinnacles National Monument

Pinnacles presents a variety of eroded composite rock formations, studded with embedded rocks of different ages, and pockmarked with hollows holding nests for a variety of birds - most notably, the California Condor - whose 9 foot wingspan makes it the biggest of the buzzard family. This weekend a captive bred bird was scheduled for release, but the gusty winds and forecast thunderstorms had the ranger's keeping him in the pen - awaiting smoother sailing.

The trails meander along and in between the rocks - this part on the Condor Gulch trail follows the river bed up a canyon, even though the river goes underground and beneath truck sized boulders which have fallen from above and lodged in the tight canyon walls forming a roof.

Here Diane is coming up behind me as we seek the daylight after traveling underground. In the really hot weather these caves are a great relief. In rainy weather like we were having, we were concerned about flooding and did not dally as we we made our way through the subterranean passages.

The thirsty landscape awaits the winter rains.

Little did we know that September and October is tarantula mating season. There were plenty of these guys crossing the trail - undisturbed by our passing - -even approaching our feet as the vibrations intrigued them to investigate.

The trail comes out on this glorious view of the "balconies" - where on a good day condors can be seen soaring above looking for a meal. We saw no birds flying all weekend.

A break in the storm clouds.

The rain obscures this view of the high peaks - but we were transfixed non-the-less by the view from the meadow below.

This is an acorn woodpecker, getting a drink. These birds live in fairly big colonies, and use a well pecked tree as acorn storage for the winter. These large trees are called grainery trees so after the birds peck nice round holes looking for bugs, they proceed to fill the holes with acorns from the California oak trees which they'll eat over the winter.

Acorn woodpecker looking for bugs...

Farm on Route 25 south of Hollister.

Magpie in flight.


Acorn woodpecker filling a hole with an acorn.

Grainery tree with woodpecker holes filled with acorns.

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