Hawks at Mt Laguna and Julian, CA

I was up early today, itching to get out and take some pics with the new camera.

I went outside, and it was foggy and overcast. Perfect! I could go down the road a bit, and hopefully, some mountain tops would be poking through the rolling fog…great pics, right?

Well, I got a couple seconds east of my house and the fog was already turning to a thin haze, dissipating pretty quickly. There would be no foggy mountaintop photos today.

Now what was I going to do?

As I was driving, I could see a hawk flying in the distance. That’s what I’ll do!

I headed up Mt Laguna, and it wasn’t difficult to spot another hawk. I parked the truck on the side of the road, near a trail head and started walking toward where I last saw it.

As I was walking, a female Red Tail landed low in a tree about 40 yards in front of me! What luck!

She watched me as I took a few pictures of her and then she took off again. I walked around for few minutes longer, hoping that she would return, but I ended up back at the truck about a half hour later.

I doubted I’d get another opportunity with a hawk like that today, but it was a nice day so I decided to drive up to Julian and take some pics up there.

Julian is a historic California Gold Rush town that is now known for its apple pies. As soon as I turned on to the main street, I could smell the apples and cinnamon in the air. It was still pretty early…as far as Saturday goes… It was around 7:30am, but it looked and smelled like the town was gearing up for a busy day.

I continued through town, heading for the back country roads; I wanted to try to find some more wildlife to shoot.

When I was out of Julian proper, I turned down a lonely, almost one lane road, and just kind of idled along. I could hear a woodpecker…now I just needed to find him…

It wasn’t long before I spotted him. He was busy in the top of a dead tree, and didn’t even notice me.

I was itching to see the pics … The D3200 was set in aperture priority mode with the ISO at 200, and I was using the 55-300mm VR lens with no tripod.

Sitting in the truck, I scrolled through the pics in the camera, and was shocked to see the ISO settings in the pics showed they were taken at 6400 ISO…not 200! My heart sank as I thought of all the noise that was going to be in the shots I had just taken… My next thought was, “What’s up with that??”

I checked the ISO settings in the camera menu, and sure enough, they were set at 200…but when I had last set the ISO, I had brain-crampfully forgotten to take the ISO out of auto mode – DOH! I was bummed…live and learn, ay?

Seeing that the camera, in auto, wanted to shoot at higher ISOs instead of increasing exposure times, I decided that 400, instead of 200 ISO might be a better compromise for a walk around ISO and made that adjustment.

I drove for a little while longer and then started looking for a place to turn around…the lure of Julian apple pie was getting to be too much.

As I was heading back, I noticed a shape that seemed out of place in a tree, off in the distance. I zoomed in and could see it was a male red tail, but was still too far off to get any detail, even at 300mm.

I pulled over and got out of the truck and started walking back to try to get a better view. I rounded a turn and was able to get a few shots before he took off, but he was still too far to get any kind of detail.

I watched him fly around for a few minutes, and then he landed in the top of pine tree that was much closer to me than his previous perch.  Score! He let me take a few shots, watching me the whole time, and then got on with his day.

(these shots at 400 ISO came out much clearer than the ones at 6400 ISO)

After that, I headed back into Julian for some more pics and pie!

It was a great morning!

I’ll tell you right now…I’m a WAY better camper and hiker than I am a photographer. There’s so much more I have to learn on the technical side of a great shot. I’m looking forward to it…I just hope you guys can bear with  me…and not laugh too loudly as to drown out my own laughter at my n00b mistakes.

Peace and Great Days everyone!

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15 thoughts on “Hawks at Mt Laguna and Julian, CA

  1. I recently watched the movie ‘the big year’ its about birding and now I am interested in birds. Thanks for these wonderful photos.

  2. Terrific post and great pictures! So would the trip have been worth it if the only thing you came back with was Julian apple pie?

    • Hi John and Thanks!

      I’ve driven to Julian many times…for just a piece of pie! So yes, even if the pie was the only thing I came back with, the trip would have still been a success.

      Have you been up to Julian yet? It’s a very cool place to visit, and the back country roads are a fun, scenic drive…and they have pie.

  3. Hello, there,
    thank you for this wonderful post – it cheered me up on my dank, rainy German afternoon. And made me long to be back in North America once more, to go hiking or biking there. But then again, I made a biking trip to Amoeneburg (you might want to check it out on google or wikipedia), a Hessian city close to my hometown, Marburg (also worth a click ;-) ), yesterday in fine weather and noticed once again that Germany’s definitely up to North America countryside-wise – it was a beautiful day. Today – not so much. So thanks again – I’ll put the place on my bucket list for travelling. :-)
    Have a nice evening,

    mylady phoenix

    • Hello and thanks for stopping in!
      Amoeneburg looks like a wonderful place. I haven’t been to Europe, yet… but it’s on my list; I’d love to visit the old castles.

      Hearing that my post cheered you up a little makes me smile.

      Thank you.

  4. Pingback: Hawks at Mt Laguna and Julian, CA « lisaleaks

  5. What wonderful shots of our Julian birds. That’s a acorn woodpecker. by the by. Julian is a wonderful place for birds. We all become birdwatchers up here.

    • Hi Susan and thank you!
      I was wondering about the woodpecker.

      I love coming up to Julian, and I think bird watching and photography have become my new, healthy justification for getting up there as often as I do…not to say that good pie and a wonderful atmosphere isn’t healthy for the soul… :)

    • Thanks Rachael!
      Yeah…the biggest trophy of the morning had to be the pie in the window! I waited all morning for those to come out…and you’re right…the wait paid off!

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