Morro Bay Field Triop - January 17-18 2012

Field Trips

"The Mighty and the Mini"

Christine Wilkins

In January half a score of LPA members met at Piedras Blancas State Beach to photograph  Northern  Elephant Seals.  The weather was clear; the winds were biting and  the seals were huge and plentiful.  In December and January female seals haul out at this beach to birth their single pups who typically weigh a whopping 60-70 pounds and gain 10 pounds each day thereafter.  About 4 weeks after birth the female seal leaves her pups, breeds again and goes to sea.  The adolescent seals remain on the beach for about 3 months, living off their fat before they too go to sea.  The male seals arrive in January to assemble as large a harem as possible.  These behemoths can weigh 4500 pounds.  Two fighting seals is a clash of the titans.  The loser galumphs off bleeding and bruised often being chased by the winner.  Then there are the young opportunistic males  gliding in and out hoping to go unnoticed by the alpha male but often run off down the beach.  There were indeed photographic opportunities both in the morning and late afternoon.

Arliss Dawson

Some intrepid souls drove down to Pismo Beach State Park during midday to check out the Butterfly Preserve.  23,000 Monarch Butterflies clustered in one Cypress Tree  to stay out of the cold weather.  Only a few hardy butterflies opened their wings in the pale sunlight.  A better photographic opportunity, according to the docents, occurs when the temperatures range in the 60 - 70 degree range.  There will be more action in this grove around Valentine’s Day when the butterflies mate before flying north.

Others of our group photographed structures around Harmony (pop. 18) and coastal sunsets, otters and the peregrine flacon pair (20 pixels in the wind).  Lots of challenges, Lots of fun.

Check out our member's photos in the gallery.

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