16 September 2010

California Day 3: Andrew Molera State Park

Big Sur was everything I thought it would be: beautiful vistas, winding roads, and plenty of ocean and sunshine. We took frequent stops to soak in the views and scan the rocky outcroppings for birds.

Before visiting Geraldine asked me what I would like to do in Big Sur and she should've known I would say looking for birds. After a little internet research I found that Andrew Molera State Park was a must-stop as we traveled south. After not having cash at the gate the attendant was very kind and let us visit without paying. Note for the future, have cash for the small state parks and iron rangers.

The trail on Andrew Molera is about a mile long but it transverses some different habitat. We walked through wooded oaks, grassy fields, and eventually found ourself by the mouth of the river. We found a nice flock of birds on the way to the ocean including my lifer Hutton's Vireo mixed in with some Wilson's Warblers and Chestnut-backed Chickadees.

Butterflies were aplenty in the open fields. I was wishing I had my Kenn Kaufman Butterfly guide but I made due by soaking in the looks and taking a few photos like the one above.

The trail opened up to a beautiful little cove. We spent some time walking down the beach where we encountered a few waves and the next thing we knew our shoes and clothes were soaked.

At the mouth of the river we found a flock of mangy looking mallard-like birds. The leader of the troop was the Canada Goose above. I really wasn't sure what they were doing but they seemed to like the large pool that had formed before the river emptied in the ocean.

Geraldine and I also liked this area and since we were already somewhat wet we decided to strip down to our under garments and take a refreshing swim. The water was chilly but the sun was shining bright and we enjoyed our time playing in the swimming hole and looking for river-worn rocks.

On the way back to the parking lot we spotted my first California Quail of the trip. I had great looks at him. Geraldine didn't get the best view but when she returned to the car (ahead of me) she saw a whole family of quail! I missed the little brat pack because I was seeing my lifer Warbling Vireo. All in all, this is a great state park and a perfect place to stop for some ocean dipping while driving down the California coast. Next up, waterfalls that end in the ocean!

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