22 Apr 2014--We have been here at the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station since Saturday afternoon, about a mile from the beach, and a really nice place to be stationed. As you can see from the 4th picture in this group, we actually surround a National Wildlife Refuge, so plenty to look at from the RV Park.
There is a 1-mile running track looping the RV Park, and part of it literally borders the Refuge. This coyote sign was the 1st thing I saw as we entered the Park.
There are lots of Great Blue Herons here on the grounds, and that is a Common Ground Squirrel, almost a cross between a chipmunk and a prairie dog. They seem to have overtaken the base with their underground tunnels...they don't live in trees like most squirrels we would be familiar with.
On Sunday we took our bikes out to check out the base. Here Cathy is riding first by the marshes and then down at the private beach on base. The bottom 2 pics are from our vantage point on base looking out at the civilian community. I am always surprised at how much prime property the military owns...I am sure the Chamber of Commerce types would like to get their hands on this land! haha
Through the fence I noticed these 2 houses in particular. The middle pic reminds me of so many houses in Boston, and I love the spiral staircase leading to the roof in the more modern house. I spoke to a local who said that most of these houses were owner-occupied, while it was a mix of about 50-50 owner/rentals along most of the beach.
At the outer edge of the running track, and at the border of the Wildlife Refuge, are these trees...again I don't know what kind...but Cathy says we saw some in Colorado, too. They shed their bark as they age, I guess, and end up having really colorful and pretty trunks.
So here comes the "Bigfoot" reference. haha Cathy and I had noticed these huge nests in a tree as we walked the track the 1st night we were here, but as I came out of the RV yesterday morning to go running, I noticed that 3 of the nests had Great Blue Herons in them. Now these birds can stand up to 4 feet tall, so we weren't thinking the nests belonged to them when we 1st saw them, but lo and behold, there they were!!! I didn't want to take the chance that they would be gone by the time I finished exercising, so I ran back and got my camera.
And am I glad I did!!! Just a couple pics here of the ground squirrels and a blue heron as I loop the track. You can see in the 1st pic that it almost looks like a regular squirrel, until you see the 2nd pic, where he looks much more like a prairie dog...just a little hairier.
So I am running along, when I see this heron in an almost cat-like pose, hunched low and motionless, waiting for something that I can't see. It is actually about 50-70 yards away from me, so I zoom in and snap a picture just as he "STRIKES"!!! That's why it's blurry...he was so fast it was incredible!
So, without my glasses to see the small icons on my camera (haha), I flip the camera to video as fast as I can and start rolling tape. I felt like I was on National Geographic...but be warned; due to breathing heavy from the exercise and the excitement of what I was seeing, these are a little shaky.
Just in case you can't view the video, here are stills of what I was seeing. We didn't even know that the herons hunted these squirrels, so I was totally taken by surprise. I kept flipping between video and stills, so I actually caught him swallowing in the stills. He kept shaking it and then dropping it to see if it was dead (I think), then snatching it up before it could get away and shaking it again. Notice in the 5th pic, as he swallows the kill, there is another squirrel watching him in the upper right-hand corner...but wisely disappears underground again in the 6th pic when the heron is ready for the prowl again.
So that was my exciting morning. I know it was sort of gross, but totally surprising so I was very excited to see it up close and personal. I will be keeping my camera handy for now on, that's for sure!!!