Monday, October 13, 2008

Birding Festival - part 3

Our third destination for the day was Pinnacles National Monument. Pinnacles has two entrances, the west side and the east side. Friday afternoon we were to meet the group at the west entrance to Pinnacles. We got separated from the group when our "fearless leader" suggested stopping by a winery in the town of Gonzales, and he didn't try to keep us all together. We already knew where we were going, so no need to caravan with the group. So we chose to find a place to stop for lunch where we found a McDonald's there in Gonzales. After a refreshing lunch we were on our way again, headed for Pinnacles. When we reached our destination and entered the park, we paid the fee and proceeded to the parking lot where we found a few folks from our group also hanging around wondering where our "fearless leader" was. After waiting an extra half hour it was the consensus to leave the park and slowly drive down the road where we came in, hoping to see the rest of the group including the leader.
[To see a larger image, click on the photos]
These photos were all taken around the Pinnacles area. The countryside is so beautiful. Apparently this whole area located in San Benito county, also known as the Salinas River Valley, has vineyards all over. Even though this whole valley looks quite dry they must have a decent water table to accommodate all these vineyards. Most every vineyard we came across used the drip irrigation system.
Nevertheless, birds around here were few and far between. Most of the birds we saw (while still looking for the birding group) were what I would find locally in the Silicon Valley -- lesser goldfinches, scrub jays, house finches, etc. Below is a scrub jay hanging around this "water tank." It was fun watching all the finches darting in and out of the "spout." That's the area below the scrub jay where the tank is showing white where it was dry and black where it was still wet from the water spilling out. Visit Red's blog to see more photos.
By the way, this was the area where we finally ran into our "fearless leader" and the other birders. The group that had been driving around with us told the others that there were more birds up around the vineyard we had just come from. We chose to leave the group at this time, since they wanted to go back up to the vineyard and we were running very low on gas -- and it was about 10 miles to the nearest gas station, luckily downhill all the way. Overall, the best and most birdy part of the day was at Moon Glow Dairy. But it was a lot of fun going from Zmudowski Beach (wet, watery, oceany) to Moon Glow Dairy (Elkhorn Sough, mudflats, riparian) and then on to a much drier and warmer locale, Pinnacles/Salinas River valley area. We definitely saw a lot of varied geography as well as a variety of birds. Our next post will be about Saturday's events.


Linda in Erie said...

That is quite a sight to see the pinnacles in the photo of the vineyards. I don't think there were vineyards when I visited the area back when I was a kid. I always hated the scrub jays when I lived out there because they stole the nuts off our trees. But I've come to even like them now. People change! It sounds like you had fun on your outings.

Shellmo said...

I loved seeing the landscape. Too bad the fearless leader wasn't a little more organized!

Mary C said...

Linda, you had me laughing about the jays. They can be obnoxious, as you know, and robber barons. ;o) And I think you are right about the lack of vineyards in this area. I think vineyards became a lot more popular around this area about 20 years ago. The climate is quite ideal for growing grapes here.

Hi Shelley - I'm glad you enjoyed the landscape photos. This part of California is so different from what most folks think of or visualize California to be. So much of our state is really agricultural, yet most people think of the Sierras, Yosemite and Hollywood as "California." Knowing that this festival is only 4 years old and rapidly growing in numbers of attendees each year, I do believe they will realize they need a professional organizer in order to be a successful festival in the future.


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