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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Colorful Day

Sometimes it's delightfully possible to mix business with pleasure. Due in Fresno for a business meeting, I decided I might as well stuff a little birding into the mix. So heading south on Highway 50, I stopped by Diablo Canyon Road - a deserted looking area in Stanislaus County. On an average day that winding valley road probably hosts often sees more of long-horn cattle than people.

First stop along the canyon was the Owl Condos where I found no nesting Great Horned Owls, but their neighbors, the Red-tailed Hawks were home.

Redtail Tending Her Nest

After paying my respects, by not staring to hard, I traipsed around the corner and found a lovely patches of Orange-red Indian Paintbrush.

Indian Paintbrush

While I fiddled over the flowers with my camera over the flowers, a male Costa's Hummingbird flew right up to me. He was facing into the sun, gleaming like an amethyst jewel! In a flash he was gone and I will always have him in my mind and I will also always mourn the perfect photo of that shining royal purple gorget that I didn't get a shot of. Another National Geographic Cover Photo lost!

Glittering Costa's Hummer Photo by Mark Chappell

I headed back down Highway 5 and soon enough I was driving along Little Panoche Road. The wildflowers were spectacular.

The width of the the valley was powdered with flowers

Seems to me, Mother Nature took Bird's Eye Gilia...

...and used them for the lavender in her palette

She obviously fancies pastels...

...with the occasional dash of hot colors like California Poppy for contrast

When I nearly had my fill of flowers, it was time to hit Mercy Hot Springs for my annual viewing of the Long-eared Owls. The owls are surprisingly tolerant of onlookers not to mention annoying photographers like me.

This Owl was so dinky & resembles a disgruntled sock puppet

Eventually it was time to head east for Fresno and a boring night at a hotel. But as I headed out of Mercy Hot Springs I thought, 'Come for the Owls, stay for the wildflowers'

I could stare at displays like this forever and a day

Blue Dicks Dancing in the Goldfield

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