April 6, 2017 - Red Bluff CA

Rain and more rain.  What gives with this California.  I should not complain.  It has been a week since the last rain-out day in Half Moon Bay.  Unfortunately the forecast is for wind and more rain tomorrow. 

April 9

The rain didn’t stop the birding.  Before dawn we drove two and one half hours to Sacramento to join “birding buddies” and explore “the patch” of one of them.  Saw some 63 birds.  We opened a few nest boxes to sneak peaks at sitting owls and ducks.  Great weather for ducks. 

Before the rains arrived we made two visits to Lassen Volcanics National Park.  The park road is closed after the visitor centers which are at the north and south entrances.  On the first day we drove in at the south entrance.  Snow banks of ten to fifteen feet created a canyon for the road.  The visitor center seemed a glacier and we easily walked up a snow ramp and trudged to the nearest hot springs a mile away.  The smell of sulfur permeated the atmosphere and the roaring boil created mist in the bright sunshine.  We wore sun glasses to prevent snow blindness.  Worried we would step through the hard surface, but it stayed intact until our return for lunch. 

The second day we drove to the north entrance and the campground and visitor center just beyond.  Walked around a lovely lake that was thawing.  There the elevation was lower and the snow was partly gone.  The patches along the trail there were tougher to walk across, but we were plucky.  Lassen loomed white above, impressively.  It last erupted in 1915.  Now it seems quiet, but the USGS watches it closely.

Yesterday, chains were required to reach the park.  For our last hike we drove half way to park at a game lands in parkland with patches of oak and Coulter Pine.  Saw a golden eagle lift off a perch and float across and over a slope.  Every shrub and many herbs were in bloom.  The streams were flush, the lower slopes emerald green, and the upper slopes white with fresh snow.

Here in the Central Valley the horticulturalists are sharpening their shears and cutting away.  One storm brought wind as well as soaking rain.  In the park in which we are camped a tree came down opposite us and branches are everywhere.  We may throw one from our roof when roll up our slide-outs.

We’re on the road today, moving to Ashland OR where it is also wet and a bit cooler.  We hope not to get ahead of the spring, but it is slow incoming this year.  Was e-mailing a gal in Alaska about reservations this week.  She remarked that “it has been a hard winter here.”  We are less than a month from arrival.  May it be warmer in May.

Enjoy your West Coast adventure and have a wonderful Easter.

Haven't seen any eagles here since Norb and Susan's. I am not sure I've ever seen a golden eagle . 

Eagles are giant-sized

Eagles are giant-sized hawks.  Two species are widespread within the continental United States, the Golden Eagle, more in the West, and the Bald Eagle.  The first is an inland species with a fondness for jackrabbits and large land birds.  In the East we are most likely to spy it on migration across the Appalachians moving between Canada and the Southwest.  Although not rare, they fly low and are often unseen in big sky country.  We have so far seen only one this year near Lassen Volcanics National Park.  The Bald Eagle might better be called by its scientific name, White-headed Sea Eagle.  It is a fish hawk mostly found on or near big water in search of sushi.  Having made a dramatic come back after the DDT crisis in the 1960's, it is a common bird in much of the country, but like the Golden Eagle, it often must be looked for to be seen.  We have spied dozens so far this year.  In Alaska we may see hundreds each day when along the coast.  Lots of fun for us.  The natives come to find them as a bit of a nuisance.