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Friday, February 27, 2015

Piggies in the Middle

Field o' Shooting Stars
I drove along Highway 5 on my way to Watsonville and thought, 'might as well cut across Del Pueblo Canyon Road over to San Jose, instead of driving south to the Pacheco Pass'. I was hankering for some birds, but I didn't see more than a dozen I could have stayed home to see. There were no baby Great Horned owlets or any hawks in the nesting nooks in the sandstone cliffs. No Phainopeplas frolicking in the mistletoe along the road. There were loads of lovely wildflower though, which give me heart that this is going to be a bumper crop year for Wildflowers - whoo hoooo! It is raining and hailing - off and on as I type this. There were puddles, rivulets and ponds galore. I looked and I'm certain the vernal pools of northern California are going to put on a glorious show for 2015. The last big year for wildflowers was the year that perked my interest in them, in 2009.

Close-up of what I would call Comets or Darts
but are correctly called 'Shooting Stars'
 The only annoyance on Del Puerto is few pull-outs and everything is fenced private property. There are so few people that when I stopped to take photos out the window a driver stopped to ask if I had car trouble. Nope! My only trouble was the usual - my poor crap focusing with a 400mm lens.

Buttery 'Johnny Jump-ups'
I always think the drive from Patterson to San Jose is a scant 2 hours tops, and it always stuns me the actual time is more like 3, if not 3 and a half hours. The second half of the drive is along a road composed entirely of hairpin turns. after passing the planetarium on the summit, I saw only a small herd of does and a large flock of wild turkeys (again, no where to pull off so I could photograph them). Then, when I hit the valley floor, passing two county parks, I hit the breaks and did a 'Yellowstone U-turn' (i.e., abrupt turn for wildlife viewing) to feast my eyes on the only wild, feral pigs I have ever seen.

California Wild Pigs

The motley swine were nosing around the meadow that looked like someone had worked it over with a heavy chain. The hogs were smaller than I would have anticipated, but maybe they are only youngsters from last year? Colors varied from hog to hog. Every once in a bit a little piggie would jump up, scampering, to be joined by other piggies, seemingly just for the fun of it.

There is 'frolicking' going on here.
The Piggies came in Disney-esque assorted colors
A 'grizzly' colored piggy
I missed a photo of one of them kneeling on one knee for easier access to whatever it was eating. I might have thought driving through the Del Pueblo 'Pass' had been a waste of time, but for the wildflowers and better - the wild pigs - the drive was well worth twisting through those brain spinning hairpin curves.

Here is a minute or so of piggy action I took before the herd disappeared back into the hills. And me left humming, "♪Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, piggy in the middle...♪♪'. I dare you to guess that reference without cheating and looking it up.

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