RV Livin' Post #10 - California: Part 1

November 10, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

CA_ground_squirrel_2015_2CA_ground_squirrel_2015_2A California ground squirrel (Spermophilus beecheyi) eats some dried leaves on a cloudy morning in Malibu Creek State Park near Malibu, California So, time to do a little backtracking on my travels. When I arrived in California three weeks ago, I had a short list of wildlife I wanted to photograph – sea lions, sea otters, tule elk, island fox and bobcats. Two of those animals are only found in California (tule elk and island fox) and two others I was hoping to capture some better photos (bobcats and sea lions). Photographing sea otters in California would be a first for me; I have only photographed them in Alaska.  Brandts_cormorant_Malibu_2015_1Brandts_cormorant_Malibu_2015_1A portrait of a Brandt's cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) as the warm light of sunrise lights up his chest and blue eyes near Malibu, California

I have found, with the expense of driving an RV, that staying targeted on a few things rather than trying to take it all in provides a better success rate on the photos. It is all about the quality rather than the quantity. So even though there are many places I want to visit and photograph in California I wanted to stay very focused on my target goals this trip. (The Yosemite visit was a definite departure from the targets but oh so worth it!)

After the Salton Sea (see post #8), the first place I visited was the Malibu area. I know, not really the first place that comes to mind for wildlife photography!

California_Sea_Lion_Malibu_2015_9California_Sea_Lion_Malibu_2015_9A California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) yawns really wide while resting on the rocks near Malibu, California

I camped at Malibu Creek State Park up the canyon from Pepperdine University. Nice park – at least during the week – but way too crowded and noisy on the weekend. The gates are also locked at 10 p.m. at night – no exceptions. I had to walk back to my campsite the first night. Nothing like walking through the dark in a new place and hearing critters moving across leaves and sticks along the road – not knowing what animal was making the noise.

Fence_lizard_Malibu_2015_1Fence_lizard_Malibu_2015_1A fence lizard pauses for a brief moment as he crawled along the dirt in the campground at Malibu Creek State Park near Malibu, California

But it worked out and there was fun wildlife right in the campground. The obligatory campground animal made an appearance – the deer – and a few coyotes were barking one foggy morning. A lot of fence lizards were running around the fence posts. And my dogs enjoyed watching the dozens of ground squirrels that ran around.  

California_Sea_Lion_Malibu_2015_11California_Sea_Lion_Malibu_2015_11A California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) looks out into the ocean while sitting on the rocks near Malibu, California

The ground squirrels were actually California ground squirrels. Since it was a new critter for me I took quite a few photos. If you are ever interested in photographing these little creatures, photograph them from your car. They dart into their burrows quite frequently if you get close, and they won’t make an appearance during the busy weekends.

Even after staying quiet and still for 20 or 30 minutes, all I could get from the squirrels was a small and quick little peek out from the burrow.

During my trip to Malibu, I caught up with a fellow photographer friend, Klaus, who I met several years ago in Yellowstone. I have really found that photography is such a wonderful way to meet really interesting people from all over the world. Klaus is no exception as he is an amazing photographer from Argentina.

He showed me some of his favorite locations in the area and we captured some great photos, including sunset along the beach, cormorants along the cliffs and sea lions on the rocks.

It was a beautiful time in that area in California.  El_Matador_Beach_2015_1El_Matador_Beach_2015_1The waves crash around the rocks at sunset along the beach near Malibu, California


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