Los Angeles & Catalina Island

Spring 2008











































During the spring of 2008, Susan and I travelled to the west coast to visit some of her relatives. While we were there we decided to take an overnight trip to Catalina Island and see the sites of this classic California destination. Later, after being bitten by the exploration bug, I decided to visit Griffith Observatory, where I saw a number of "life birds." It was an amazing trip...one we hope to repeat.

Catalina Island

The most iconic image of Catalina is the Casino in the town of Avalon. Difficult to see form the street is was easy to observe from the highest mountain to the sought of town. So, while Susan and her sister (the lovely Lisa Arbetter) lounged about in the comfort of an unhurried morning, I climbed the mountain with my camera gear. I was not disappointed!

My First Quail!

The landscape was oddly similar to every outdoor scene in the TV series MASH, and I laughed when I started to see birds that had no place in Korea. The many roads that crisscrossed the mountainsides were dry and the sany soil supported many low scrubby bushes that were the perfect habitat for California quail.

I'd seen birds like this before, but only in cartoons and magazines. The quail were small, quick, and wary, but eventually they relaxed a little and this one male popped up to get a look at his surroundings. That's when my investment in big lenses paid off!.

My First Acorn Woodpecker!

On the way back down the mountain I passed through a densely populated area filled with beautiful homes on steep hillsides. As the road switched back on itself in a series of hairpin turns I was able to get great views of the tops of the trees, which is actually a rare and wonderful treat. While walking along I caught sight of some birds zipping around the tops of some palm trees and when I trained my camera on them I was stunned - and thrilled - to find a group of acorn woodpeckers. These birds live in family groups and store up vast caches of acorns to make it through the winter.

My First Scrub Jay!

A couple days later I decided to take advantage of my rental car and travel up to Griffith Park and Griffith Observatory. This was another instance in which I was alert for anything because I was in a totally new place and virtually every bird I saw would be a new species.

As I walked along the trails in the park I was thrilled to find a scrub jay that was on the mellow side. It took about half an hour, but the bird eventually settled down, found a bit of shade in a low tree, and started preening. The fact that I was there and taking photos was something that the bird (luckily) didn't seem to mind.

Copyright 2011 William Danielson