Sunday, June 12, 2011

Corte Madera and Espinosa Creek...

As the crow flies, Corte Madera is only about 12 miles from our house.  To drive there, though, means taking about 40 miles of paved roads and 3 miles of four-wheel drive roads.  This year, because of all the rains this winter, the road was badly eroded – and we ended up turning around at a place where it looked riskier than we cared to attempt in our 16-year-old Land Cruiser.  The best part of the trip started near the peak of Los Pinos, right near where the paved road ends.  Here's what we saw from there (click to enlarge):

All of these photos were taken with my new camera, which I'm still learning how to use.  The panorama above was ridiculously easy to make: I just told it to take a panorama, and swept the horizon with the shutter release held down.  The camera did the rest!  The only post-production work I had to do was to add the labels you see.  The small size of the camera takes some getting used to for me – I'm used to a (much) larger Canon SLR.  Of course virtually all the controls are in different places.  I think so far the biggest surprise for me is just how easy everything is – there are lots of automation features (like the panorama capability) that my older cameras never had.  once I learn these well enough for them to be second nature, I believe this camera will be substantially easier to use than my SLR.

At right is a topo map of that last part of the trip.  Corte Madera is the steep slope near the top center of the map.  It's famous locally amongst bird watchers as a prime nesting site for several common raptors.  The sign at left (found at the saddle just before the final westward leg of our drive) gives a brief description of these.  We saw some nice displays of flowers along this last leg, but our enjoyment was somewhat damped by the hordes of nasty biting flies.  We've noted the same thing in our yard this year; for some reason (I'm guessing weather-related) there are far more flies than we normally see.  Some of the flowers we saw:

On the drive out, we had one more interesting encounter: a gopher snake winding his way across the road right in front of his. This was down low, very close to where the road to Los Pinos passes close to Lake Morena. He wasn't too happy about me sticking my camera in his face!

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