Saturday, March 26, 2011

With a pretty good start in early and mid February of a few (10) IDs of Humpbacks, a combination of winds and deeper water transits (?) and my whale friends all but disappeared. It is now March 25th and during the intervening time I have only ID’d 3 more. The last week the winds came up once again and I have not been able to get out to The Whale Zone for some time. There have been few whales seen by the local fisherman also. The whales are fine and in good numbers, as indicated by my colleagues and friends in other parts of Baja Sur, just not here. I may hold in reserve what is left of this years funds to go out next season. Disappointing for sure especially as I had a banner year last season.

I had my first flat on the road the other day. I had just picked up Alan and Marilyn at the airport, had a dynamite dinner at Apolonia’s Greek Restaurant in Los Barriles, done our grocery shopping and were almost home as the sun set and then the rear tire blows. Bummer! No flashlight but Marilyn used her palm pilot to light things enough to find the tools etc. Fortunately I did have a full donut so with a fair amount of grunting and groaning Alan and I got the spare on and we were off again.

This is my new and very dear friend from North Carolina, Terry Kerr, who arrived here about two weeks ago with some friends of mine from Ukiah.

Even though Terry is a total non swimmer and never before in a kayak she trusted me to take her out to The WZ. That’s two miles out and a depth of around 600’. Terry was a bit nervous at first, talk about pushing your fear envelope, but after a bit she was clearly enjoying the experience. We didn’t see much out there that day but it was a really beautiful time. I always marvel at the courage of other people!

The next day I went out on a search in the panga and Terry volunteered to come along. This was after 4 times out without a sighting but we were no sooner launched than Alan spotted some blows directly out in front of us and about 1 ½ miles out (Alan is becoming one hell of a spotter). It was a group of 3 whales, one of which may have been a yearling. This year around 50% of the Humpbacks encountered in our area had either new borns or yearlings with them. The largest of this group (female probably) has a “stunning” tail. Terry suggested the name “Dottie”.

The smallest whale did not fluke up and the other adult only gave me a “short shot” with it’s flukes so not a good ID but sufficient for a comparison someday maybe. Here’s the other two with one of the two giving me the “short shot”.

Last Monday (21st) my old friend John Erving (his pic was in an earlier post in the cockpit of a biplane) brought his charming and lovely wife Kristine, son John & his wife Jeanine and their two children, Mary Jane and Grant for a visit.

From left, John Jr., Mary Jane, Kristine, Grant, Jeanine, John

The idea was that I would give them the full on Baja experience; whales, kayaking, snorkeling and hiking. It was not to be. The day after they arrived the wind began to blow and here it is Friday and the wind has not stopped!

I did get a chance to do a bit of snorkeling with his grandson Grant among the rocks around Punta Pescadero and that was a treat, though I had to occasionally grab his leg and pull him away from getting too close to the rocks….well, he is 9 and knows no fear, right!

Even the trip out to the Native Indios pictographs didn’t happen because of a faulty car battery requiring a long walk through the desert back to the nearest village and getting someone to take us back to El Cardonal.

Hoofing it through the desert to Boca del Alamo

Later in the afternoon we went to Alan and Marilyn's for a poolside get together and that was real nice, everybody had a good time. Here's Alan and marilyn in front of their home "kicking back".

not my pic

Now during that whole time, The Erving’s were jovial, gracious and indefatigable. I of course was deeply disappointed that I could not give these fine and deserving friends a real memorable experience. Yet in all sincerity they thanked me with kind and appreciative words for my efforts. When I was just a boy, and John and I hung out together, I was often in the presence of his family. It was always their graciousness that made me feel so at home and part of their clan. John’s mother especially, to me always “Mrs. Erving”, extended her gentle soul to me and softened the loneliness of a boy whose mother worked very hard and was gone most of the time and whose father was missing since the war. That graciousness is a mark of the Erving clan and I feel grateful to have been a part of it again.

Yesterday I watched two Hooded Orioles fighting for nesting space under my palapa. Though there was some serious fighting that took place on the ground it was their “dog fighting” (ie. Airplanes) that literally left me in awe. The way they flew so fast and so sure as they barreled through the foliage was really remarkable. I got my camera out but hopeless to catch them. Here’s a pic I found online because I couldn't find my bird pics from before.

Hooded Oriole, not my pic

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My adopted family from Quebec are here so an additional flag is flying at the entrance to Shangri-La. I have always been partial to the Fleur-de-Lis and the history it represents.

The whale season is definitely not as it was last year. I still have only 10 IDs while last year at this time I had 36. It is not of concern due to reports of large numbers around Todos Santos, Cabo and San Jose. Vicente and I believe that they will still come here to our area, just a bit later than usual. I am just happy to know they are back here in Mexican waters after their long and arduous migration back from The North. The other day however, I saw three Blue Whales and two Humpbacks within a ½ mile of shore. I couldn’t get out to them due to the wind but it was sure nice to see them cruising by and thinking I might know one or two of them.

Here’s a pic taken a week ago however, of another mother and calf pair to show up this year. This is always a good sign (this calf is probably another yearling and will be weaned down here this season).

While not out at Sea I have had the opportunity to spend time with my adopted grandchildren from Quebec. The youngest, Quentin, loves nature walks so we went on three such while he was here. Here he is scoping the arroyo for critters and then later discovering a great cache of bones.

This is his older brother Tristan who I had over recently for a discussion about chemistry. An earlier talk with him prompted me to give him The Quantum Foam Lecture. I talked for 2 hrs straight and he barely got a word in. Those of you who were students of mine might remember this lecture so you know what I put him through. He accepted all graciously.

Some of you won’t believe this but I had a visit from Jehovah’s Witnesses the other day. Now I have often commented on my views on religion but these people bring out the devil in me. Before they had a chance to even begin their spiel I gave them a discourse on the history of The Church, my delight in being a “Born again Pagan” and shooed them on their way with a somewhat sarcastic “Namaste”. I mean come on……here at Shangri-La?

I have a visitor here for a few days, Deborah Siciluna from Malta.

I met her in San Jose some months back and invited her to join me for a whale search. We went out two days ago but didn’t see any Humpbacks or Blues. Did run across a couple of really good sized Bryde’s Whales though. Bigger than either Vicente or I had seen before. Due to this being the second time out without an ID I decided not to go out again this morning and instead took her kayaking out to The WZ. No whales but on the way in we ran across a pod of 10-15 Common Pacific Dolphins. “Debbs” made a perfect intercept and the pod had a great time “playing” with her in her kayak. They were moving to fast to try to get in with them but they were all around and under our kayaks…..even bumped Debbs once. I’ve never had dolphins bow ride my kayak before, great fun of course and the dolphins were getting a real kick out of Debbs joy in the moment.

Some of you might enjoy this also. Sent to me by Debbs.