Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Since I didn't have access to a computer to send everyone a Christmas greeting, its coming now with your New Year's greeting... I figured it was better late than never.. :) At least I made it in time for New Year's. :)


Moving on to the point....

May 2009 be a happy, healthy New Year for all of you!

Best wishes from Michele, Kayla, Cubby and our 2 fish; Cali and no name yet for the blue one.

Don't forget to check out the posts from yesterday... :) :)

Gray Whales turning out to be ORCAS....

My mission for Gray Whale photos turned into Orcas.. :) Can I really complain??? Definitely no complaints here!!

Since I am so far behind, I am going to post out of order. Not as planned, but it's the way its going to be since Orcas appeared before my computer was fixed to get the other posts up... I still don’t have my computer back, but hopefully soon. So, how do you post something before Orcas??? Impossible! :):) Okay... so I am an Orcaholic...

Backing up a few days….

This last week God has given me so many blessings and a fantastic week. He has reminded me of just how beautiful nature is hereon earth. It all started on Christmas with a snowstorm that covered the ground with a beautiful blanket of snow... Waking up to a beautiful Friday morning, my camera was calling me to go out and document the snow. Only planning to spend an hour or so out, it ended up being four hours. It was just too beautiful! Snow photos coming soon. Orcas first. :)

I left my parents house later Friday evening to head home. Yes, without my daughter. She was staying at Grandpa and Grandma's for a few days to give me a much needed break. So, I took advantage of doing some things that I can't really do with her.

Saturday I had the opportunity to go out to Anacapa Island in the Channel Islands National Park. What a beautiful day it turned out to be. We didn't see any whales on the trip there and back, but did see some Common Dolphins... Anacapa Island post coming soon! :) Orcas first. :)

Since I didn't get my Gray Whale photos on the Anacapa Island trip, I decided to go out Sunday morning on the whale watch trip out of Ventura. It was another beautiful day out. We left Ventura harbor toward the islands where the Gray Whales usually migrate through the passage between Anacapa Island and Santa Cruz Island.

About 3/4 of our way out there, Anthony Lombardi; the captain of the Islander received a call letting him know there were Orcas down east off the coast of Oxnard heading east (towards Malibu). So, since Orcas are not very common to see, off we went. YEAH! :)

There was a pod of about 6 Transient Orcas on a mission heading east. They spent quite a bit of time underwater with a few cycles of breaths. It was so great! What a treat! We spent quite a while with them

moving eastward. When it was time to leave, we could almost see some of the Malibu houses. They were traveling quite fast.

On our way back to the Ventura harbor, we saw a large pod of Common Dolphins. Close to 1,000. They were surprisingly heading east.

Once we reached the harbor, Anthony got a call from the whale watch boat out of Santa Barbara that arrived on the Orcas when we were leaving them, he told Anthony that once the dolphins realized they were entering Orca country, they immediately turned around and headed backup the coast in the opposite direction of those Orcas. They were not wanting to become their dinner!

Monday arrived and I was getting some much needed things done at home. The weather outside was so beautiful again, and I was getting antsy. My neighbors were being their typical selves, so I decided to get out of the house. I called up Island Packers to see if there was room on the afternoon Whale Watch trip. So, once again, I was on my mission for Gray Whale photos. I am putting together a DVD slide show on the whales that come through the Santa Barbara Channel, through the Channel Islands National Park including facts about the whales, etc. All I need are some Gray Whale photos from this area.

Therefore, Jason; the captain on the Vanguard out of Channel Islands Harbor headed out to the passage between the two islands; Anacapa and Santa Cruz to find the Gray Whales they spotted on the morning trip or some new ones making their way down to the lagoons in Baja. We went through the passage and started heading east along the backside of Anacapa Island. I was getting a little concerned that we were not going to see anything. Suddenly, coming around the east side of the island were a ton of Common Dolphins in the beautiful late lighting heading west along the backside of the island. The naturalist on board counted approximately 3500

dolphins using their special method for figuring out the numbers.

The dolphins passed and we continued our mission for whales heading east along the backside of the island when not even five minutes later we spotted a pod of Orcas traveling westward. They were not far behind the dolphins, but didn't seem to be rushing toward them. The Orcas from this area are Transients which eat mammals. There were about 5 Orcas in this pod. The lighting was beautiful as they travel westward passing us.

We had to leave the Orcas after they passed us to start heading back to the harbor. We continued east along the backside, around to the arch at the east end of the island and headed back to the harbor. We also saw a ton of Sea Gulls and Pelicans on our way out there and back. At the west end of Anacapa Island is a breeding ground for Brown Pelicans and closed to the public.

God gave us a beautiful sunset to watch on our way back to the harbor. Photo is of Anacapa Island. The point of view is as if I was standing on the main land.

Coming soon: Gorillas, Anacapa Island, Winter scenes and maybe another subject or two. :) :) Keep checking back for them... :)

I am trying to find out the I.D.’s of some of these Transients. Once I find them out, I will post them and include some info about Transient Orcas.

Take care.

More photos of the whales, dolphins will be added to my website soon.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sorry for being out of touch for the last month +.....

I sure hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. I apologize for not putting up a greeting for Christmas and an update any sooner than today, but my computer has been down. I am using a borrowed one right now. I had plans to put some up, so now I am really far behind.

I am just letting you know that I am still around and have been photographing ALOT the last 4 days. Winter scenes from Tehachapi..... Orcas off the California Coast.... Anacapa Island in Channel Island National Park.... Common Dolphins... All coming soon, so check back in the next week or two and see what I have posted. :):):)

Hope you all have a Happy New Year!! May the new year be filled with joy and good health...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving....

Every day I am so thankful for so many things, but during this time of year, I am even more Thankful for so much....
Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving full of blessings...


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Morro Bay....

Our favorite spot for a getaway weekend...


When we need a break from all the daily whistles in life, we escape to the beautiful small town of Morro Bay. It's a little more than 2 hours north of Ventura, where we live now. When we were in Tehachapi it was a little over 3 hours west. It doesn’t matter which town you leave from though; either way, it’s a beautiful drive. Unfortunately, when leaving from Ventura, you don't want to leave on a Friday afternoon heading north on Hwy 101 due to the traffic. Leaving from Tehachapi for Morro Bay on a Friday was much easier because the route doesn’t have the traffic that Ventura has.

We haven't been in quite a while. I think last spring was the last time we went, so we are way over due. :)

Morro Bay is a very quaint little town and at times can be a very touristy town. It sits in a harbor along the beautiful central coast of California and is only 20 minutes south of Hearst Castle. The marine life that live in the area consist of our favorite; the Sea Otters. There are also lots of jelly fish, birds, many seals that wait for the fishermen to arrive from their morning fishing trips to get food.


Down along the harbor is the embarcadero which is full of little touristy shops, restaurants, and a few clothing and sports shops. There are only a handful of places to stay on the water and most of the hotels and inns are a block or more up a hill overlooking the harbor, coastline, Morro Rock, and the embarcadero. It's a beautiful view.


We haven't experienced much of downtown Morro Bay, but there seems to be a variety of small town shops. There are a lot of places to stay in the town including campgrounds, hotels, inns, and bed and breakfasts. The town also has a golf course, museum, a very small aquarium, boating, whale watching during the summer, harbor tours, etc. The Fish Hut is one of my favorite places to eat and is an outdoor type place which works well for our situation.

One thing we really love is driving the car down to the embarcadero and park, so we can walk along the harbor, look at the shops, eat either breakfast or lunch, and search for the otters. After we spend some time in the area, we head off in the other direction walking along the waterfront out to Morro Rock where there are a lot of seagulls, squirrels and an otter or two, sometimes as many as four. They hang out in that area a lot, eating, sleeping, and bathing. It's just inside the break waters of the entrance to the harbor. The road leading out to Morro Rock has a south side which is the harbor and the north side is the ocean with surfers, beachers, and the start of the coastline again.


Lots of people go out to the rock; bird watchers, fisherman, otter viewers, surfers, and many other people. If we are going to spend more than an hour out there, we will drive the car and park right beside the rocks, just above the water where the otters are. Kayla loves to lay in the back of the car with the door open to look out. She lays there and plays with her toy, looks out at the excitement that is going on, watches mom take photos of the otters, and really enjoys her time there.


Morro Bay is a perfect place for us to go to. The town is quite accessible keeping us from having to drive everywhere we want to go. It allows us to walk all over, has beautiful weather, gives us both something we enjoy doing, and allows for us to spend quality time together.


If you have any questions or want some recommendations, please feel free to email me at

Hope Everyone is doing good and has a GREAT weekend! :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Giant Pandas....

If I can't have Orcas then it will have to be Pandas...

My daughter had a four day weekend, so we jumped on the opportunity for some R&R and went to San Diego to meet up with a friend and ended up at the San Diego Zoo. The weather was beautiful. Friday was a bit cloudy with bright, blue skies to accompany the clouds. The temperature was warm, being neither too hot nor too cold. Saturday was another beautiful day with blue skies, though a bit cooler, with a slight wind from the Santa Anas.

It had been a good year or two, since we had been to the San Diego Zoo. There were a few changes going on there which left only part of the zoo accessible, but we still had a great time and got to enjoy the animals that we did get to see.

We saw a handful of animals, but the favorite of the trip were the Giant Pandas. Go figure, black and white. :)

Giant Pandas are mammals and are classified in the bear family native to China. Thankfully, China has allowed the San Diego Zoo to be a part of their research breeding project and in turn have loaned them a few Giant Pandas. We were able to see three of them: SuLin, BaiYun, and Zhen Zhen.

SuLin is the first Panda you see when entering the Panda exhibit. She is 3 years old, approximately 175 lbs, and was born at the zoo on August 2, 2005. She is the third cub born to her mother, BaiYun, and the second-born to her sire, Gao Gao. She was conceived via natural mating and is now old enough to be independent. Since she is now 3 years old, she is awaiting her time to return to China.

The next two Pandas on exhibit are BaiYun and her fourth child Zhen Zhen. BaiYun was the first successful birth of Giant Pandas at the Wolong Giant Panda Research Center in China. She is 17 years old and weighs approximately 214 lbs. She is on loan from China as part of the breeding research program at the zoo.

Zhen Zhen was born on August 3, 2007 from the natural mating of BaiYun and Gao Gao at the San Diego Zoo. She is still very young at 14 months old and still needs her mother. When she turns 18 months old, she will be separated from her mother to start her life on her own.

BaiYun's only son, Mei Sheng, was born in 2003 at the zoo and is doing very well since being returned to China in October of 2007. Mei Sheng's father was also Gao Gao and was also conceived via natural mating.

Gao Gao is a wild-born animal and arrived from China in January of 2003 to be a part of the breeding program at the zoo. He only has two successful offspring both via natural mating: Mei Sheng and SuLin.

The first giant panda born in the United States to survive adulthood was Hua Mei. She was conceived via artificial insemination between Shi Shi and BaiYun and was born at the zoo in 1999. Hua Mei was returned to China in 2004.

Now a bit more about the Giant Pandas...

When Giant Pandas are born after a gestation period of 95 to 160 days, they only weigh about 4 oz and can barely fit into the palm of your hand. They are born blind, fur less, and are mostly white with a pinkish tint. The cub nurses from its mother's breast 6 to 14 times a day for up to 30 minutes at a time. When they are about 7-14 days old, the black saddle and ear patches begin to emerge and darken. They will start to take on the appearance of a more typical panda only much smaller. The hair on the cub is still sparse and predominantly white. A month after birth, the color pattern of the cub's fur is fully developed. The cub begins to crawl at 75 to 90 days and mothers play with their cubs by rolling and wrestling with them. Cubs can eat small quantities of bamboo after six months, though mother's milk remains the primary food source for most of the first year.

There is approx 25 species of bamboo, but the zoo only produces 2 types.
The average adult Giant Panda eats as much as 20-30 lbs of bamboo shoots a day. When the Pandas eat, they do so in a very relaxed manner.

Giant Pandas are very solitary and live alone except during the few days when mating occurs. Adult pandas sleep about 14 hours a day and spend the rest of their time mostly eating, while cubs sleep about 18 hours per day. Male Giant Pandas are 10-20% larger than females.

At the San Diego Zoo, the adult pandas, which are solitaire, are rotated every two weeks to be out on exhibit. The Pandas are very sensitive to unfamiliar noise and direct sunlight.

Of the eight living species of bears, the Giant Panda is the only one currently classified as endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. In fact, there are less than 1,000 Giant Pandas left in the world today.