Alcatraz and Birds of the Bay
Figured I’d begin sharing my most recent trip to San Francisco with the visit to Alcatraz Island. If you are interested in viewing the cells and buildings–that will be in another post. (Coming soon–not yet written!)
Alcatraz Island is operated by the National Park Service and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. There are other entities and if you’d like to know them, feel free to visit www.nps.gov/goga or www.nps.gov/alca
Alcatraz is home to numerous gulls and my visit offered many views of baby Seagulls. They are part of the largest western colonies of gulls in Northern California. Few facts according to our guide:
Seagulls mate for life and return to the same nesting area every year. Adults are very protective of their young and both seem to be visible. Here are a few shots of the new colony members.
This tour was part of the garden tour which is not offered daily as it does take you into bird territory. It was a pleasure to be so close to so many young birds.
Parent near by
Some young were not as timid
As posted earlier on twitpic
Just about everywhere you looked there were seagulls. Seemed as though they are the centurions and guards of the history on the island.
Garden Guards–another area also not open to the public
Part of the colony visible and what a view they have of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge!
Ironically, on this side of the island below the lighthouse seemed to be extremely windy–although the view was lovely. As we were admiring the view we caught a few of the seagulls playing the wind. Those drifting and floating on the wind gusts have their legs at a different angle than when in flight. Wish I would have timed some of them–they seemed to be having a ball!
One seemed to hover over a portion of the garden
Their antics reminded me so much of the book, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” by Richard Bach published in 1970.
There happened to be another type of bird with young on this island. As we approached their nesting area we could see two Snowy Egrets above the hedges…
The bushes were berries and I could hear this distinctive sound: “glug, glug, glug” sounded like someone with poor manners gulping their drink! The Egrets were well hidden below the top of the hedges and even more camouflaged due to the foggy weather with white skies in the background. Just a couple shots I could get…
Wonder if this was the actual source of the gulping sound?
I certainly wish I had a better vantage point–at the same time, am thankful I got to see (and hear) them beyond the bushes!
As we passed the Egrets, there was one lone gull hanging on!
The birds and flowers were the highlight of my trip to Alcatraz. Would love to go again and go on a garden tour when the skies are blue! Guess I will have to do my research and plan for next year. Because of course, I’d like to glimpse the baby birds and adults with their young! I do feel fortunate to be able to return with better weather. Every shot in this blog was taken with my original Nikon DSLR, my D40x . I decided to keep my 70-300mm lens on my lighter camera, as I can take pics free-handed and not have shake as I do with the D300s.
A kind lady–took one look at me, and what a sight I was: with 2 cameras around my neck, camera backpack on–tripod bag over shoulder and my wide-angle lens also over shoulder and said, “Are you a professional?” I replied, “No–just someone who loves photography.” For the record, I did actually use almost every lens I took with me–did use tripod. Figure if I am bringing a back up camera–might as well use it instead of just carry it around. My beloved D300s earned it’s keep with the garden tour and close-ups–that will be my next post–coming soon! Priorities in order–birds, flowers, then cells!
Following the garden tour, we then entered into the cell area and went on the audio tour. (That will be yet another post!!)