California Coast, San Simeon ~ Big Sur

September 15, 2012  •  1 Comment


    This past Labor Day weekend we headed up the California coast.  Setting up base camp in San Simeon.  The weather was mostly sunny and cool, a pleasant change from the hot temps inland.


 On the menu was what ever would hold still long enough to shoot, and some landscapes.  The first morning we were out just before first light.  We headed north out of San Simeon.  It was foggy with low clouds.  As it was getting light, I saw something in the corner of my eye as we past by, to the right out in a field, it was a raptor hovering.  I couldn't tell what kind, so I turned around and went back.  As we were coming up on the location I saw it fly across the road in front of us, it was an owl.  We watched it circle around and land on a roadside fence post.  This is where the cat and mouse begins.  Getting into position to get a shot is trying, to say the least.  This was a barn owl and did not want to stay put for long.  It would fly from post to post every time we approached.  We played the cat and mouse game up and down the road as it got lighter and lighter.  Finally she (I think...) got used to me enough to stay put for a few seconds longer.  This was the first time I had ever seen a barn owl.  These birds are beautiful!


 As we made our way further north, I spotted a small animal to the east out in a field of cattle.  It was a long way off.  At first it looked like a wild piglet.  I thought that strange because I saw no adults.  When I pulled over and put some glass on it, I found to my delight, it was in fact a bobcat, something that's always on my menu!  Being that he was on the east side of the road, it wasn't the best situation, considering the sun was just coming up, but with wildlife photography you have to make the best of any situation.  I started shooting as he was actually getting closer, moving southwest.  He was backlit so I thought, oh well, Ill just have to deal with it... Just then something grabbed his attention and he started to stalk to the northwest, all the time getting closer as he passed right to left in front of me.  He proceeded to do just what I hoped he would... he crossed the road and now was to the west!  Things were starting to fall into place!  I spent a good twenty minutes with this cat and finally had him lay down in the brush just fourty feet from me!  So far it was a good morning.


 Continuing on we saw more barn owls still out hunting in fields long after sunrise.  I have made this trip many times and had never seen any barn owls.  Another raptor I had not seen here before was white-tailed kites.  It seemed there was owls and kites everywhere.  This day had been a good one!


 I had seen photos of McWay Falls, but had never witnessed it myself.  I didn't know where it was!  This trip we found out, and made a point to see it.  We got there about four o'clock and made a recon trip down the path to take a look.  This place is truly unique!  It looks like a scene from Paradise!  I took some handheld shots just to scout some vantage points, and then we went back to the Jeep and took a nap to kill some time waiting for the sun to  get lower.  Later we headed back down with tripod and anticipation.  It was interesting watching the beautiful scene go through different morphs as the sun sank lower and lower.  The color intensity shifted from the aqua color of the water to the golden sunset reflecting onto the rocks.


 The next day we got lucky and found a family of white-tailed kites.  There was the two adults and two juveniles.  I have photographed these birds before, but not under such good conditions.  This was their neighborhood!  I was able to observe these birds for an extended amount of time.  This gave me the chance to see just how beautiful they are!


 The California coast is a sight to behold.  People from all over the globe go there to see this world famous stretch of coastline.  It is always a good trip.  No matter the time of year or the weather, I love the California coastline.




The shots from this trip can be seen in the "California Coast Gallery".


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1.Connie Cadwell(non-registered)
It sounds like your California coast trip was a real hit. I love the barn owl. We had a great grey yesterday in Hayden along with a lovely grizzly bear at Indian Pond.
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