Change of Plans Due to Fog

Pacific Ocean fogged in

I never quite know what the weather will be here. Forecasts do not mean much with the effects of the Pacific Ocean; at least in relation to fog. Saturday morning’s forecast called for partly cloudy to sunny skies. My planned destination was Bolinas Lagoon, about an hour’s drive from my apartment. My planned photo subject was the Long-billed Curlew.

It was quite foggy at my apartment when I arose at 4:45 a.m. Past experience (over the last three weeks) has taught me that it may or may not be foggy even 5 miles away. Therefore, going back to sleep did not sound like a good option to me. Who knows what I might miss?

I drove in fog the whole way. The lagoon was fogged in. So much for getting images of Curlews in good morning light.

As I was driving along the lagoon on Highway 101, two coyotes crossed the road in front of me, heading down to the edge of the lagoon, and heading in the direction I was going. So, I drove around the bend, parked, jumped down amongst the brush and rocks at the highwater mark and got ready. Pretty soon, a coyote was headed my way. My movement caught its attention and it veered away. But, the second coyote passed within 50 feet of me.

Coyote walking the mudflats along Bolinas Lagoon
A Coyote walks the mudflats along Bolinas Lagoon, looking for a meal that may have been washed up by the tide. Coyotes are a little easier to photograph in areas where they are not hunted. Sony a9 + 100-400mm lens @175 mm, ISO 1250, f/8, 1/400s. ©Stanley Buman. All Rights Reserved.

Since the lagoon was fogged in, I decided to head to the Golden Gate Bridge observation point. But as I continued my drive, the fog increased. So, I aborted that mission. I had passed the road for Mount Tamalpais State Park. I figured I might as well scout out the area while in the vicinity. The peak elevation is 2572 feet; not high by Rocky Mountain standards. But since it is next to the coast with an elevation of zero at water-line, it is a significant elevation for the area. I was quite surprised as I started up the mountain that the fog ended. I was now above the fog looking down on it. This view confirmed that the fog covered a vast distance of the Pacific Ocean.

Pacific Ocean fogged in
This view from part way up Mount Tamalpais confirmed that the fog was extensive. The area in white is the fog that covered the Pacific Ocean as far as I could see, as well as the shoreline. Sony a7R III + 24-105mm lens @52 mm, ISO 800, f/14, 1/400s. ©Stanley Buman. All Rights Reserved.

By the time I explored Mount Tamalpais, it was mid-day and the light was getting harsh. I headed back down to the coastline and into the fog. I hiked two trails in the late morning and afternoon, covering a distance of approximately 12 miles. It was a good chance to scout out the trails for potential future photography locations.

My next stop was the abandoned buildings at D Ranch (more about the ranches in an upcoming posting).  I had seen a Barn Owl flying around the barn the day before. Being very quiet, with slow movements, I made it into the barn and crawled up on some hay bales, maybe 16’ high. Looking around, I saw the Barn Owl only about 25 feet from me. I can’t believe it didn’t spook. And, it stayed in the barn while I was there. So, no flight shots this day.

Barn Owl in D Ranch Barn
Barn Owls do use old barns for roosting and nesting. This Barn Owl was in an old barn on D Ranch. Sony a9 + 100-400mm lens @424 mm, ISO 1250, f/8, 1/20s. ©Stanley Buman. All Rights Reserved