Brian's Photo Blog — Article 41
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Christmas Photo Outing In California
Saturday 31 December 2011   —   Category: Outings

Just as many birds in northern climates head south for the winter, so us Byrds migrated 800 miles south to the central coast of California for Christmas. Of course I hauled all of my camera equipment with me. If I can’t take pictures in Oregon due to the bad weather, then I for sure have to take advantage of the sunny winter weather down south were I grew up.

Of the six days we were visiting my parents, I went out to take photos on five of those days. Our first day out we went to the nearby Danish village of Solvang. Even though it was packed with holiday-season tourists, I still had fun exploring the unique European-style architecture, hidden away in the California coastal mountains. Once the crowds cleared a bit, we had a great European meal at the Viking Garden restaurant. As an extra bonus, we also visited Santa Inés Mission, which is located on the eastern edge of town. On the way back to Santa Maria, we also stopped at the nearby Nojoqui (Nah'-hoe-wee) Falls Park, which contains one of the few waterfalls in that part of the state. You can see all 36 photos in the Solvang 2011 photo album.

For my next outing, I got up early and headed out to Oso Flaco Lake, in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes. This beautiful nature preserve includes a sturdy and attractive 300-yard bridge across the lake, which takes you right into the midst of the water fowl which frolic there. After crossing the lake, the bridge continues on as a boardwalk another half a mile, giving you a obstacle-free path all the way to the ocean. You’ll have to decide for yourself how seriously to take the signs warning of mountain lions! In the early-morning calm, I got some great shots of the local water fowl, including ducks, Coots, Northern Shovelers, a Great Egret, and more. You can see all 22 photos in the Oso Flaco 2011 photo album.

The next day I got up early again and headed out to my favorite beach in the area: Shell Beach. The towering cliffs are a great place to observe the numerous Western Gulls that live there. I spent about an hour tracking these birds in flight with my 600mm (equivalent) lens. I got some pretty amazing shots, 32 of which you can see in the Shell Beach 2011 photo album.

For my fourth outing, I stuck closer to home, taking a walk on Christmas day along the Santa Maria River levee. From one end of the path to the other, and back again, was about six-and-a-half miles. By the time I got back to my parents' house, I was really looking forward to a good Christmas Santa Maria style barbecue. The (usually) dry river bed and rusty cliffs have their own kind of desolate beauty quite different from western Oregon where I now live. Because of the wide expanse of these cliffs, most of the photos presented in this album are wide panoramics. You can see all 10 photos in the Santa Maria 2011 photo album.

For my final outing of the trip, I got up early once again and headed this time to Grover Beach, home of the largest Monarch butterfly grove in California. Although it was too dark or cold or early to see any butterflies, I did get quite a few shots of a Snowy Egret I was following around as it was feeding in the creek. The early-morning sun cast a firey glow in some of the other photos. You can see all 11 photos in the Grover Beach 2011 photo album.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 41
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Brian's Photo Blog — Article 41
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