Toad in the Hole

April 27, 2004

Chimney Rock

Since we've passed the official whale season, when you can't just drive out to Point Reyes Lighthouse or Chimney Rock but have to mess around with a shuttlebus, and since we hated the idea of missing the whole wildflower season there, we dragged ourselves out yesterday. Good thing, too.

Iris and blue-eyed grass seemed most plentiful, with linanthus and goldfields and that funny Calochortus tolmei and paintbrush, several lupines, still a little of the white wallflower, mule ears, um, um... flowers galore, anyway.

Man, it was hot, even right there on the ocean, barely a breeze. A couple more of the old Monterey cypresses near the ranger's residence were down or splintered. It's hard to see them go, whether they're supposed to be there or not, mostly because they're refugia for the lost landbirds and the resident owls. There was a Eurasian goldfinch hanging out there last fall with the local goldfinches. Jumpy, aggressive little bugger, as I recall.

Someone was seeing whales -- someone claimed to have a blue. Never caught up with those, but the elephant seals were still on that beach just south of The Willows (this is birder jargon, sorry) and a handful more were snoozing on one of the little beaches under the cliffs that the path skirts. I believe we're seeing a range increase here.

There were Pacific loons migrating north, all slim and elegant flying over the point; a couple of common loons all dressed up for breeding; a red-necked grebe in breeding plumage, an outfit we hadn't seen since, probably, 1980 in the Midwest.

And one of those crises of, well, credibility rather than conscience: There was a kingbird on the wire by the parking lot. "Have you ever seen a kingbird here before?" asked Joe. Come to think of it, no. And a kingbird with no white at all on its tail, in April, among other oddities, and a soft, non-nasal, non-harsh muttered song.

A tropical kingbird. Now this was worth calling in to the hotline.

However, it moved up the wire (giving us a good look; still no white on the tailfeathers) and chased... an identical bird. TWO tropical kingbirds. Riiiiight.

So they didn't get reported, though we're both sure of what we saw and heard. Sometimes it just isn't worth the cross-examination.

Nice birds, though, and we hadn't seen those in a few years either.

Posted at April 27, 2004 03:43 AM


Hello- I just linked to you through Faultline and must make a comment about Point Reyes. I visited San Francisco for the first time 3 years ago. My friend and I drove up the coast and drove through Point Reyes National was so beautiful. We went down the 300 steps to the lighthouse and took lots of pictures. Of course I then realized it was then 300 steps back up......oh my!! It took a little huffing & puffing but I made it. I must say that the coast north of S.F was absolutely beautiful! I do so want to go back someday and explore more of the coastline. I grew up on the New England coast which is beautiful in itself, but so different from the northern California coast. You do have a beautiful state..........

Posted by: Dottie at May 1, 2004 02:19 AM

I linked to you through Creek Running North. Excellent to have another California place blogger at work, and a BIRDER too! I agree about the kingbirds--no point getting gestapo'd about them especially if you didn't have a photo. I wish it didn't have to be like this.

You may at some point want to check out the Ecotone wiki, which is a communal forum for people blogging (and photographing) place. There are joint topics twice a month, 1st and 15th; today's is Sound of Place (see

Posted by: Pica at May 1, 2004 03:13 PM