Dr Marm never without my Nikon!

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.  

One parent on wall to left and one on ground just out of picture range

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  

Step away from the wall!

Some young were not as timid  

Not quite sure of people...but not alarmed

As posted earlier on twitpic  

You are not my Mama

Just about everywhere you looked there were seagulls.  Seemed as though they are the centurions and guards of the history on the island.  

Able to watch every move on land and below

Garden Guards–another area also not open to the public  

Guarding the flowers...and their young below

Part of the colony visible and what a view they have of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge!  

Colony Location

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!  

Note 2 adults and babies on the ground

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…  

No idea how many are in the bushes--but way more than the 2 pictured here.

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… 

Very well hidden

Skies helped hide them even more

Wonder if this was the actual source of the gulping sound?  

Almost hidden

 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!  

Amazing how their feet can clutch a branch!

 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!!)


3 responses

  1. Laura~I haven’t visited in awhile and I LOVE the new look!! These photos are absolutely gorgeous!! You’re doing some amazing work with your camera…Cathy

    July 31, 2010 at 1:07 am

  2. Wow! Fabulous series of photos! Love the compositions. All are wonderful but photos 3, 5, 8, 9 & 14 really stand out. Cute scruffy baby gulls. Thanks for taking us along on your adventure! Your blog is a joy to read and view.

    August 5, 2010 at 1:15 am

  3. Laura-you’ve got some great shots! The birds were my first love until Doug lured me with landscapes and Lensbabies. You captured one of my favorites….Snowy Egrets. I a glowing a green hue…envy over those lovely juvenile Seagulls. I’ve been so busy that I’ve not kept up with much online lately-will have to play catch up.

    Your blog is looking great! Superb job on it!

    August 5, 2010 at 1:44 am

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