Blacktail Jackrabbit (Photo of the week)

A blacktail jackrabbit sits in the grass, softly backlit by the setting sun

When walking out by the San Francisco Bay in the morning or evening hours, it does not take long to spot a black tail jackrabbit. This is one of a few rabbit species native to the area, not to be confused with the many domesticated feral rabbits. It also likely doesn’t take long to see one of these animals in action, most likely if they sense the threat of a predator. Running at speeds up to 50 miles per hour, they can take single leaps up to 20 feet.

Because they tend to be very wary creatures, it can be difficult to sneak up on one to photograph. Most of my photos are of their backside, as they race away from me across a mud flat or through fields of pickle weed. I got lucky with the rabbit in this week’s photo, as I was able to get off a couple of quick shots before he noticed my presence.

Salt Point State Park

Wind and water sculpted sandstone creates an alien landscape along the headlands of Salt Point State Park, California

Last week I spent a few days at Salt Point State Park, along the California coast just north of Jenner. The state park encompasses over six miles of shoreline, as well as miles of interior trails through coastal forest. This portion of the coast is one of the most dynamic in the state, made so by acres of sandstone, shaped over time by the strong waves and stronger wind, creating an alien landscape of stone and water.

Although the sky was clear and the sun was out, the temperature never topped 60 degrees. Windy conditions persuaded most people to stay away, entrusting the entire length of coastline to me alone. By early evening, the wind really picked up with gusts between 30 – 40 mph. I had a hard enough time just staying on my feet much less keeping my tripod steady. The wind was only outdone by the strength of the massive waves breaking against the rocky shore.

Waves crash against sandstone headlands, Salt Point State Park, California
A wave blasts a sandstone point as the ocean's energy turns water into a milky froth, Salt Point State Park, California

In the mornings, the wind from the night before had subsided, but the ten to fifteen foot waves were no less fierce.

Huge waves crash over offshore sea stacks, Salt Point State Park, California

The variety of the landscape was impressive. I found myself walking through fields of recently bloomed wildflowers, back-dropped by sheer cliffs plunging to an azure ocean. At low tide, pools appeared among newly uncovered rock, offering a glimpse into the lives of the sea dwellers who live there.

Wildflowers adorn the coastline of Salt Point State Park
Tidepools adorn sculpted sandstone headlands, Salt Point State Park, California

The park was home to a variety of wildlife, from song and shore birds to seals, lizards, and an abundance of healthy looking deer. Ultimately it was a brief few days, but a welcome respite from the bustle of the Bay Area. There was much more to see at Salt Point than time allowed, and I know I’ll be going back there in the future.

A harbor seal clings to an offshore rock as waves splash around it, Salt Point State Park, California
A white-crowned sparrow perches in morning light, Salt Point State Park, California
A white-crowned sparrow forages through fields of wildflowers, Salt Point State Park, California

Happy Easter

A blacktail jackrabbit pauses for a brief second amongst native wetland vegetation

Happy Easter! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and that the Easter Bunny has been good to you this year.

Meal Time (Photo of the week)

A sea otter cleans his teeth with his tongue as he eats his meal.

This week’s photo was taken last month in Moss Landing, California. Sea otters can frequently be seen here floating in the small harbor, usually eating or grooming. This area is also home to the Elkhorn Slough – famous for its many birding opportunities. The Elkhorn Slough Foundation boasts a checklist of 346 species of resident and migratory birds.

Sea otters are fascinating to watch due to their displays of anthropomorphism and (sometimes comical) interactions with each other. By floating on their backs as they eat, they appear very relaxed and laid back. I always imagine a big smile on their face, as if they are about to tell a great joke.