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Monday, June 27, 2011

70º and Sunny in Santa Cruz

The official temperature in San Jose last Tuesday was 96º. It was sweltering and I was feeling pretty miserable by noon.

So what do you do when you have out of town guests and it's too hot in the South Bay? We headed over the hill to the Santa Cruz Beach Boadwalk and Municipal Wharf where it was a perfect 70º complete with sun, blue skies and a light cool breeze.

It cost $12 to park at the Boardwalk and we had a great "babies" wildlife experience out on the wharf.

First we spotted a trio of sleeping sea lions snoozing on a dock. So cool because this was the youngest baby sea lion I've ever seen. You can tell it's not newborn because it's fur is beginning to shed beneath its neck. My guess is that it's a few months old and just beginning to molt to its shorter adult coat.

I was surprised to see that sea lions have tiny tails!

If you're ever in Northern California and spot a sea mammal in distress did you know you can contact the Marine Mammal Center for help? They rescue and rehabilitate approximately 600 marine animals each year.

To report a distressed marine mammal call (415) 289-7325.
Or you can file an online report by CLICKING HERE

While photographing the sea lions I turned around and spotted a seagull nest under the wharf.  If you look really hard you can see the baby just to the right of the sitting adult.

So cute!

Sometimes I really wish I had a real zoom lens.

When the nesting adult took off to stretch its wings I could see there wasn't one, there were two babies in the nest!

This adult had a small fish that the babies began pecking at. This was the first time I'd ever seen baby seagulls. They were really cute and not at all colored like the adults. They were brown, grey, kind of creamy colored and splotchy looking, like Kitai's friend Lulu who is part Catahoula Leopard Hound.

We also saw this young Brown Pelican out at the end of the wharf.

As an adult its coloration will change with its neck turning more white and its forehead taking on a golden yellow coloration. As an adult its wingspan will be 6 to 8 feet!

While it was cool to see a pelican so close up, and even though it looked perfectly healthy, it was worrisome because it shouldn't have been this approachable. According to the police officer who was there keeping an eye on it, it was letting people walk up to it and pet it. She had already called the proper animal services department and was hoping they would make it out soon to take a look at it to see if it needed help.

Here's a bit of bird history for you. The production and use of the pesticide DDT in agriculture began in the mid 1940's. The Brown Pelican became an endangered species in 1970 due to the use of DDT in agriculture and the factory production of DDT that discharged high amounts of residue and waste into the environment. DDT caused the shells of the pelican's eggs to thin to the point that the eggs would break before hatching causing a high mortality rate that stopped next generations from forming. When the government banned the use of DDT in agriculture in 1972 the birds began making a comeback, particularly along the Southeast and California coastlines.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, in terms of nests, in 1970 there were 727 nests counted in California when the Brown Pelican was given protection under the Endangered Species Act. In 2004 there were 6000 nests counted so for now the species appears to be out of danger though oil spills will continue to take a toll on the birds that live along the southern coastline of the United States.

The Sky Glider was the only ride that wouldn't make me motion sick.

There are lots of rides including a Giant Dipper roller coaster, Looff carousel, water, and all kinds of the usual fast motion spinning, swinging and falling type rides that would make me motion sick in less than 5 seconds so I never partake in the amusement park aspect of the Boardwalk.

We parked in the far lot at the end of the Boardwalk and were told after 5:00 PM all the rides would go down to 1 ticket per ride instead of the usual 3-5 tickets per ride. That's a good deal because the tickets are basically $1 each and if you don't want to spend the money on an all day wristband waiting till evening is a great way to economize.

And while I'm always up for a big, soft, hot pretzel, I knew the choices of snack food down on the Boardwalk wouldn't really agree with my more healthful idea of junk food as evidenced by this Deep Fried Twinkie and Oreo cookie booth. . .

So we made a stop at The Penny Ice Creamery downtown on Cedar Street before hitting the Boardwalk. I had this double scoop waffle cone filled with Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream atop a scoop of Blueberry Lemon Verbena.



This place just kills me. Every time I go I'm sad that they don't have the flavor I had on my previous visit. And every time I go I try a new flavor and love it as much as the last one I thought I loved the best.

And why do I say it's healthful junk food? From The Penny Ice Creamery website:
The region's best organically cultivated and wild fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs are the cornerstone of the menu. Likewise, The Penny Ice Creamery takes pride in using only organic dairy, eggs, and sugar.
So the next time it's too hot where you live in the Northern California, take a peek at the current temperature in Santa Cruz and if it's lower than where you are, a day at the beach might be the perfect solution!

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