CA Critters (AKA: Playing with my new camera)

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KecheMukwa
Posts: 30
Joined: April 16th, 2013, 9:04 am
Location: Jena, Germany
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CA Critters (AKA: Playing with my new camera)

Post by KecheMukwa »

I spent the 6 or so weeks between my Utah field season and moving to Germany to formally begin my PhD studies traveling around the golden state. Alas, my love of the ocean got the best of me and I spent most of my time on SCUBA looking for eels and octopus (which I believe to be the underwater equivalent to herping) up and down the state. I still had plenty of opportunities to break in the shiny new D5100 (and 55-300mm telephoto lens) that I picked up. Feel free to critique my photography, I'm still very inexperienced and would appreciate any pointers. Enjoy! (sorry there aren't more herps)


My first subject was this juvenile Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte anna) in my own backyard (Santa Clara Co.)
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And a few days later I saw this guy doing pushups in my front yard (Sceloporus occidentalis, Santa Clara Co.)
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Another day, at the San Jose Rose Garden I managed to snap these
Cricket on a yellow rose (Santa Clara Co.)
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Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
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These next few shots were taken during surface intervals while diving various sites near Monterey
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis, Monterey Co.)
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Striped Shore Crab (Pachygraspus crassipes, Monterey Co.)
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Western Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma californica, Monterey Co.)
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Pigeon Guillemot (Cepphus columba, Monterey Co.)
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Family of Pelagic Cormorants (Phalacrocorax pelagicus, Monterey Co.)
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Mama Cormorant feeding her babies
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Brewer's Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus, Monterey Co.)
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House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus, Monterey Co.)
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California Ground Squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi, Monterey Co.)
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Towards the end of June I decided to leave for a backpacking trip in the Sierras where I saw a couple cool things at around 7500ft...
Like this Sierra Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis taylori, Alpine Co.)
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this bird nest (Alpine Co.)
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And even some snow hiding under a ridge at 8800ft (Alpine Co.)
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After my wilderness excursion I drove down to Ramona to stay with my girlfriend for a couple weeks. Her yard was home to a Hawk nest as well as a surprisingly large population of Fence Lizards.

Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii, San Diego Co.)
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Nest w/ juvenile (San Diego Co.)
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Juvenile Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis, San Diego Co.)
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My girl isn't really a herper (although she is a bird enthusiast) but she still had some tins lying around her property for whatever reason. Naturally, I went and flipped them and this is what I found.

Black Widow (Latrodectus hesperus, San Diego Co.)
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As a responsible diver in the SD area, I had to spend a great deal of time in La Jolla. I was pleasantly surprised by how many critters inhabit such a heavily populated area.

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus, San Diego Co.)
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Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus, San Diego Co.)
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Juvenile Heermans's Gull (Larus heermanni, San Diego Co.)
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On another day we went for a hike through the hills surrounding Ramona, where I was stoked to find my first (and only) lifer of the summer.
Granite Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus orcutti, San Diego Co.)
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As with everywhere else I visited I found a Fence Lizard.
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The view from the top was quite beautiful
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We saw a pair of cute birds on the hike as well (ID?, San Diego Co.)
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We had selected a cooler (high of only 101F) day to visit the Anza Borrego desert in hopes that something interesting would be out enjoying the heat. Alas, were werent too surprised to find that nothing was out except for this bird enjoying the shade of the visitor center bathroom.
Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus, San Diego Co.)
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My next destination was Catalina Island. I had hopes of finding some island herps but once I saw how clear the water was I just had to spend every waking moment in it. It was time well spent as I found more octos and eels on my 3 dives there than on all my other dives put together (all 47 of 'em). On one occasion I found an octopus fighting a pissed off Garibaldi, and I saw another octopus eating a snail right out of the shell.

I had scheduled a dive boat trip for one of my mornings on the island and just before it departed I saw this guy looking for fish.
Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax, Los Angeles Co.)
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I was pleased to find a healthy population of Manduca (one of the herbivores that I use in my research on plant/insect interactions) completely decimating the local Jimson Weed (Datura wrightii) population. Almost every plant was eaten to the ground by herds of fat happy caterpillars.
Tobacco Hornworm (Manduca sexta, Los Angeles Co.)
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After Catalina I headed back home to San Jose, but it wasn't long before I was off to visit a friend of mine at her parent's vineyard.

Pinot Noir in the making (Santa Cruz Co.)
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Yet another fence lizard (Santa Cruz Co.)
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On my last day in the US I had one more shoot with the backyard hummingbirds (Santa Clara Co.)
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- Jay

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gopher
Posts: 173
Joined: April 9th, 2013, 8:45 pm
Location: California, San Gabriel Valley

Re: CA Critters (AKA: Playing with my new camera)

Post by gopher »

wonderful photos, I love new cameras! Hands down my favorite is your scrub jay, I am very jealous. Last week I had one at a very similar angle around sunset but luck had it that a pack of halflings freaked out and scared it away before I could focus the shot.

did the spiny lizard take you on a ride around the rock? :lol:

KecheMukwa
Posts: 30
Joined: April 16th, 2013, 9:04 am
Location: Jena, Germany
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Re: CA Critters (AKA: Playing with my new camera)

Post by KecheMukwa »

Thanks! I'm glad you like them. That Scrub Jay was particularly friendly. I'm sure it was used to getting all kind of treats from people.

Many spiny lizards took me for a ride that day. They were out in full force! The red coloration on some was quite impressive.

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