Another stellar day at Point Reyes, Tuesday, 2/24

After another cold nite (28 degrees ... brrrr), sunshine smiled on us again from dawn to dusk -- hooray!  Neither Jimmy nor I wanted any long or strenuous hikes today, so we selected Abbotts Lagoon, a fairly flat, three-mile trail thru open grasslands and coastal scrub, which ultimately ended at Great Beach.  We met very few other hikers; instead we were treated to plenty of wildlife viewing.

Black-tailed deer browsing the pastureland.

California Quails stood on fence posts, calling to each other.  They're cute, with their plume, or as I call it, their "do."  And pudgy, like round soccer balls, but they can fly!  We eyed a pair of hawks on a ridge above us as they flew alternately from the ground to a pole on the ridge ... not sure what was going on with them.  Fox sparrows and Le Conte sparrows were scattered around as we hiked.

It wasn't cold, but it was windy at Abbotts Lagoon.

Great Blue Heron, looking for a meal, as usual.

Visibility has been excellent.  Yesterday we could see from Point Reyes Lighthouse all the way to Point Arena (not sure the distance, but it's a "fur piece."  I look kinda lost on this beach.  Jimmy and I walked alone on the sand as the surf roared ashore.  The tide was on the rise.


I borrowed this photo of a male Surf Scoter from All About Birds.  We watched a couple of dozen of these seaducks bobbing in the waves, but no picture of mine was worth posting.  They were too far for my point 'n shoot and waves are so uncooperative!  We thought they were goofy-looking, yet we stood for quite a while looking at them as they bobbled about in the waves.

We've seen lots of bird life here on the ocean and lagoons and marshes -- seaducks, shore birds, ducks, and mergansers. Yesterday we saw Pigeon guillemots, unmistakable with their bright red feet, Common Murres, Brandt's Cormorants, Brown Pelicans, ubiquitous Western Gulls, and more, all off the coast in the water or on sea stacks.  Point Reyes offers some of the finest bird watching in the US.

When we were finished checking out the scoters and ready to leave the beach, we turned around, returning the way we came, to Smartie.  Lunch time!

* * * * *

After eating our sandwiches, we continued on Pierce Point Road to the end of the line and parked.  Jimmy and I were amazed at the extensive Point Reyes peninsula dairy history, which began around 1857.  On our travels the past couple of days, we've seen quite a few historical farms ... most dating from the 1850's, with exotic names like "Historical Farm A and Historical Farm B, and so on.  Cows are everywhere!  The good news is that they're not cooped up in pens.  They roam the lovely green hillsides.  Anyway, Pierce Point Ranch is now under Nat'l Park Service management and open to the public.  We toured the grounds around the ranch, and then commenced hiking the Tule Elk Reserve.

Oh, darn!  Sorry, Matt, no antlers for you!

Stalking the wild elk....

This clump of Calla lilies just off the trail was a surprise.  I believe the lilies were planted by the original ranchers.

No elk here, just another gorgeous vista.

We watched this Red-tailed hawk riding the air currents off the water as they blew up the cliffs.  It was lower than we were and seemed to stand still in mid-air for long minutes at a time ... crazy!  Then it would fly a little way along the cliff and ride in that spot for more minutes, and repeat the process further along the cliff.  Only cliffs, rocks and water were below it, so it wasn't hunting.  Perhaps it was drawn to the coast, just like people are.  Regardless, it was apparently enjoying the day!  Never saw this before.

As you can see, we were several hundred feet above the Pacific.

OK, now, we found the Tule Elks.  Honest, up at the rock pile, on the right is a herd of elks.  We were satisfied, and did NOT have to walk up a steep path to get up close and personal.  They must have been very close to Tomales Point.  Jimmy and I turned around.

Ranchers planted Monterey Cypress and Blue Gum Eucalyptus to provide shelter from the harsh coastal weather and extreme winds.  The above tree is over 100 years old and probably nearing the end of its life.  The Park Service is restoring the historic windbreaks around Pierce Point Ranch core, and the seedlings they're planting will provide continue to provide shelter for another 100 years.  Cool beans.

Now we were ready to go home to Tergel.  We put over six-and-a-half miles on the feet again on this very full -- and outstanding! -- day and it was time to quit.  Oh wait, but first ...

Here's dumb and dumber saying goodbye for now!


  1. Such gorgeous green! Such sunshine! That green of the California coastal range this time of year is so incredible. It almost hurts your eyes. Photos can only barely capture it. Gorgeous.

  2. Oh, such a coastline!

  3. Anonymous5:56 PM

    Very very nice
    From GRN


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