Sunday, January 18, 2015

The New Year

After many years of spending winter in the deserts of Arizona, southeastern California, New Mexico and a bit in Texas, I am spending this winter in the foothills of California at the co-op lot in Coarsegold.    The top photo is sunset a few miles west of my location.  

I had two great Christmas celebrations with Chris' family.  On Christmas Day we were in the Bay Area at his daughter's home.   Then two days later, the entire family gathered at his sister's house in Porterville (south end of the California central valley,at the beginning of the foothills).   It was great to be around a whole lots of young kids, cousins and second cousins, who had great fun with each other and with the adults.  

Chris spent New Years' weekend with me in Coarsegold.  We drove to Yosemite for New Year's day.  It is an easy drive from Coarsegold.  This time of year we should have had snow.  Unfortunately this winter, except for a bit of rain and snow in mid-December, is acting like another drought year.  So, while there were a few small patches of snow  left along the sides of the road as we drove in, the valley was without any.  But it was cold and the Merced River was mostly frozen on the surface and Bridal Veil and Yosemite Falls were more icicles than free flowing water.
Frozen Bridal Veil Falls

Ice in the Merced River

Ice in the river.  The gold is the reflection of El Capitan

El Capitan reflection and ice

Coarsegold is also close to the great California central valley and in winter this is a major birding area.   Merced Wildlife Refuge is a great spot to go shooting (with camera).  At one time, much of the valley was marshland in the winter.  As agriculture developed here and cities sprouted, there was less and less,.  but some areas have been restored to  create  riparian habitat for wintering and year round birds.  As part of the Pacific Flyway, it is important habitat for geese, ducks, cranes and others.

Morning steam

Great Egrets are year round residents.  This Egret was hunting.   And it caught a field mouse.

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