Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Primavera-Painted Chimineas

Rise up this mornin'
Smiled with the risin' sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin' sweet songs
Melodies pure and true
Sayin': "This is our message to you-ou-ou..."

Singin': "Don't worry - 'bout a thing
'Cause every little thing - gonna be all right..."

A reggae song might seem an odd opening for a photo story about a wild western, Alta California ranch like Chimineas - but there's just something about Bob's stress-relieving words that fit the place perfectly (even if they were actually a tribute to his backup singers).

At Chimineas, you DO rise & smile with the rising sun. And there's WAY more than 3 little birds on the doorstep - there's a dozen species. And the songs they sing: sweet, pure & true.

"Don't worry - 'bout a thing
'Cause every little thing - gonna be all right"

As the Camera Trap Codger reported Monday - he, the Redhead, Fred and I just returned from a spring trip with our biologist-bud Craig on the Chimineas Ranch and Carrizo Ecological Reserve - our 30,000 acre passion-project of fauna, flora & photography.

And, as he eluded, I took a ridiculous number of photos. Over 1,500. I couldn't help myself. It was a banner 5 days chocker with life-list critters and wildflowers (not to mention the delicious dinners 'n desserts, and the firehose of knowledge from some wise guys that really know their scat).

But, I'm not gonna dump it all into a single post. To set the stage, I'll follow the Codger's lead and begin my photo journey with just the primavera-painted landscapes of Chimineas in April.

I got a slight inkling we'd picked a good time/year to visit when I drove along Highway 58 and Soda Lake Road near the entry to the ranch.

Just an inkling.

can't talk - wowing

yellow mix #47

"all right - who left all this beautiful just lying around?"

And, while it is hotter at Chimineas than where I live in the SF Bay Area, the rolling hills around the ranch are at about 2,500 feet - so the grasses, flowers and trees are at a similar phase of seasonal development. The goldfields, tidy tips and owl clover are starting their sweeps, and early bloomers, such as buttercups and shooting stars, are finishing theirs.

goldenbush, shooting stars & oaks

stormy skies on oak

rocky ridge

shooting star covered hills

swarms of shooting stars

goldfields n oaks

it's soo green!

As the skies cleared and days warmed, and we explored deeper into the ranch, it seemed like every hill, dale, gully and ridge was competing for our attention.

painted landscape

is that real?

"find the camera fred"

In some grasslands, such as the one being explored by Codger & Fred, the densities of the wildflower sweeps were subtle, but became obvious if you changed your angle a bit:

blue dicks and mountains

Other areas featured the more "in your face" variety...

painted landscape

painted hillside

chaenactis carpet

The grazing grasslands of the ranch also looked stunning in their spring greens, and were popular with the local Tule Elk - and the local camera trappers...

64 elk, including 7 calves

a grassland set

But Fred - he just kept his head down and antenna up and enjoyed the smells.

good thing fred has his antenna up

Monet spent 20 years painting his pond and garden in Giverny across its seasons and moods. Wonder how long it'll take me to similarly photograph Chimineas?

Up next: the faces of the wildflowers.




  1. wow!
    Very nice pictures!

    Must have been great being there in person. It is not a part of North America we get to see much of over here so I really enjoyed these images :)

    Great job with the camera!

  2. Stunning photographs. You are really making me homesick for northern California!

  3. What an incredibly breathtaking patch of our world, captured superbly! Bravo! on both the photos and the write-up.

  4. Wonderful pictures. I look forward to what comes next.

  5. Thanks gang. Here come the faces...


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