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.
After paying my respects, by not staring to hard, I traipsed around the corner and found a lovely patches of Orange-red 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!
I headed back down Highway 5 and soon enough I was driving along Little Panoche Road. The wildflowers were spectacular.
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.
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'