I took nearly a thousand photos over my family's week-long vacation in the Yosemite area. During the insipid drive home, I carefully reviewed them and ended up deleting half of them. It was still difficult to choose a manageable number of photos for a blog post. Here are twenty-five of my favorite photos, all from Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. My photos from Mono Lake will be along shortly. I have placed these photos in chronological order, so don't be baffled if I skip from bird to squirrel to landscape.
This fellow is a Douglas' Squirrel, also known as a Chickaree. Very reminiscent of a faded-out Red Squirrel, they reminded me of the hyperactive Red Squirrels that used to plague the feeders in my Michigan backyard.
These awe=inspiring giants are sequoias, the largest trees in the world. These particular individuals were at Sequoia National Park, but we saw a few others elsewhere.
A popular tourist attraction at Sequoia National Park is Moro Rock. A steep, narrow staircase takes you to the top of the commanding rock, and from the top the views are spectacular. It probably should not be climbed by those who suffer from vertigo! Few birds were up there, but I heard several Canyon Wrens and nearly got hit in the face by a pair of White-throated Swifts.
Because the trip was a family vacation, we didn't get going until nearly eight-thirty each morning, disastrously late for birding. By eight=thirty you've missed the best couple hours of the day for birds. Fortunately, the cabin in Fish Camp that we rented was situated in a place rich with birds. I wandered about for an hour or two each morning, finding birds such as Calliope Hummingbird, American Dipper, Mountain Quail, and MacGillivray's Warbler. I photographed these dewy pine needles one of those chilly early mornings.
Many would be surprised to learn that butterflies are attracted to mud. They often seek nutrients in damp soil or by streams. I photographed this colorful California Tortoiseshell at a patch of mud in a parking lot in Yosemite. A life butterfly for me, but I'm not counting!
This photo shows the same California Tortoiseshell as in the previous photo, but only the underside of its wings. Once the butterfly conceals that vibrant orange on the upperwing, it is difficult to spot against the mud!
A typical scene in the Yosemite Valley.
A classic view of Yosemite Valley. This particular view has undoubtedly been photographed literally billions of times.
The punk of the bird world, the Steller's Jay. On a hunch, I got a sack of peanuts and, sure enough, there were plenty of jays around the cabin to enjoy them. At least eight of them vied for nuts on the cabin deck, giving good photo opportunities.
Here's another Steller's Jay. Check out those blue stripes on the forehead!
This jay is performing a little jig!
I pished this lovely male MacGillivray's Warbler out of the brush near our cabin in Fish Camp. They are common breeders in the area; never before have I seen so many MacGillivray's Warblers.
Half Dome, as seen from Glacier Point.
This pretty yellow butterfly is a sulphur, most likely an Orange Sulphur. Sulphurs are the dowitchers of the butterfly world, and since I am a mere neophyte when it comes to such matters, I am not positive.
We were surprised to experience a few brief thunderstorms during our trip, but they didn't dampen our plans much. One evening, impressive thunderheads accumulated in the sky, creating a dramatic background for the sun-lit conifers across the highway from our cabin.
This is another photo from one of the early-morning rambles I took while the rest of my family either slumbered or ate breakfast. There is a small, sedge-lined pond in the center of the hamlet of Fish Camp, and at dawn this pond is cloaked by swirling mists.
Our time in the high country of Yosemite was dreadfully short. The rest of my family couldn't deal with the forty-degree temperatures, so I had little chance to find high-altitude species such as Gray-crowned Rosy Finch and American Pika (actually a mammal.) This is Tuolumne Meadows.
One creature of the high country that I actually did find was the Yellow-bellied Marmot. I saw many of these furry groundhog-like critters on a short hike to the soda springs near Tuolumne Meadows. This particular individual allowed close approach.
Yipes, really close approach! He did not move as I stalked toward his rocky fortress. As I got closer, I could not help but vividly remember the Killer Rabbit scene of Monty Python.
I finally drew so close to this wonderful guy that my camera couldn't focus. I could practically smell his breath, and he could probably smell mine.
Snow still adorned much of the high country. This stuff fuels those spectacular waterfalls that all the tourists gawk at in the Yosemite Valley.
We finally came to Tioga Pass, at nearly ten thousand feet of elevation, and exited the park. We briefly stopped and I looked around the rapidly-melting snowbanks for rosy-finches, but I had no luck.
I hope you enjoyed looking at these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them. I'll try to post my photos from the Mono Lake area soon.