Friday, December 25, 2020

Millerton Eagle Close Up: December 2020

Dale Matson

Click on Photographs To Enlarge

I apologize for the three weeks between postings. Millerton Lake is as low as I have ever seen it and the eagles have taken up new spots closer to the water to hunt for fish and coots. I recently discovered two new locations closer to the water and was able to approach a second-year bald eagle. The eagle let me get within 25 feet and I had my Sony 200-600mm lens with a 1.4X TC on it. Combined with my Sony A7R4, I could even shoot cropped for even closer shots. As I have said before, telephoto lenses are to make close shots closer. 

I was able to photograph this eagle near the Friant Dam and again near boat launch one. I was able to see about where it landed after it flew from the dam area. The eagle was cooperative and was actually still there when I had gotten all of the photos I wanted. I like it that way.

Because of Covid, there will be no Eagle Boat Tour this year. That is unfortunate because that is where I get a sense for where the eagles are hanging out. There is one cove on the Fresno County side of the lake where there is a group of about 50 coots. I have seen them in the same spot for three weeks but for some reason the eagles are not perched on that area of the shore.

I was hoping to see some first year juveniles from the nest I photographed last Spring but have not seen any yet.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Millerton Lake Hawk Close Up

Dale Matson

Click On Photographs To Enlarge

    This is the season where the Bald Eagles begin to return to Millerton Lake for their seasonal visit from Great Slave Lake in Canada. Most visiting eagles should be here by January 1st. I have not seen any eagles foreign or domestic on my last couple of visits. The lake is very low right now with no rain/snow in the forecast. It seems like there is as much shore as lake!

    However, there are Hawks and I had a nice Red-Tailed Hawk to photograph today. I think this hawk is an old timer and remember the same bird letting me get close a couple of years ago.

    I was walking on the Blue Oak trail with my Sony A9 and 100-400mm GM lens. It’s not my biggest telephoto but it’s my most portable. 

    What was amazing that the hawk let me get within 15 or so feet. I got lots of photographs and went on my way, walking to Winchell Point and back. That is about 1.5 miles round trip. Imagine my surprise when the Hawk was still there, so I got even more close ups. What continues to amaze me is how few photographs showed both eyes. In some cases, the one eye was in the shadows and in other cases it was a side view. Anyway, the hawk was there when I left also. I like that.

    Boy, would I love to get a photograph of an eagle that close!

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Hobbes Our Mini Golden doodle

Dale Matson


Well, our last Airedale, Duke died this past Spring. I have owned Airedales for forty years. Their temperament grows on you. Sharon and I have had three Airedales together. Brown was our first and got carsick wherever we went. Susie was our second Airedale and she was my trail companion for many years. Duke was a big and affectionate Galoot who spent some time on the winter trails but was mostly our house dog. 

Duke had a thyroid problem that was diagnosed after he went to well over 100 pounds. After being treated, he slimmed down to a solid 90 pounds.

Anyway, when he died we looked at each other one day after saying we would not get another dog and said to each other, “We NEED a dog in our lives.” At age 75, I figured the dog would probably outlive me but we both decided another Airedale was out of the question. While active, we are too old and feeble to handle another big dog. 

We researched dogs and settled on a mini Golden doodle. Their maximum weight is about 35 pounds. 

We went to a local breeder and had a chance to pick seventh out of a litter of nine puppies. We wanted another boy and the last two were one female and one male. While the female ran around like crazy and barking, our dog snuck out through the fence into another room. He is an escape artist!

He is a sweetheart and FINALLY, after 18 weeks, he had all his shots and we could take him for a walk. He got his name Hobbes from the cartoon “Calvin and Hobbes”. We were forced to get a dog. We had very little left to say to each other after all these years. Now we have lots to talk about and the grandkids all want to take him to their house. 

Hobbes And Sharon On First Walk

Monday, November 9, 2020

Sarcopenia And The ADLs

Dale Matson

Sarcopenia is a type of muscle loss (muscle atrophy) that occurs with aging and/or immobility. It is characterized by the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass, quality, and strength. The rate of muscle loss is dependent on exercise level, co-morbidities, nutrition and other factors. The muscle loss is related to changes in muscle synthesis signaling pathways. It is distinct from cachexia, in which muscle is degraded through cytokine-mediated degradation, although both conditions may co-exist. Sarcopenia is considered a component of frailty syndrome. Sarcopenia can lead to reduced quality of life and disability.

I have been active most of my life, either because I worked in construction, or (later) competed in endurance events. At age 76 I am aware of not having the sense of balance I once had. For example, standing on a ladder is more problematic. I don’t feel as stable. My travel speed as I walk has become slower. When my wife and I are crossing the street, we barely make it across before the second count is up. We have become more intentional about this and we now walk at about 2.5-2.7 mph. We both used to walk about 4 miles per hour. Walking speed is a measure of Sarcopenia.

I have an older friend who used to bound out of a chair without using his hands into his mid-eighties. I am able to do this but have to remember not to assist myself with my hands before I get up. I have kept my weight on the lean side and I think this helps me with walking and slow jogging. I try to get at least eight thousand steps per day. I have a Garmin Fenix watch that keeps track for me. It also keeps track of my sleep hours. I am careful to get at least eight hours of sleep a night with at least four hours of deep sleep. Being older, I get up two to three times a night to go to the bathroom. It is not always easy falling back to sleep after a trip to the bathroom as it used to be. I am also careful to eat an early enough dinner to allow three hours before bed time.

I have to think about stacking so many dishes to be put away so that the weight is not too great. The grocery bags and trash cans can be a problem if they are heavy. I have to remember to make more trips from the car with groceries and one trash can at a time going down the driveway to the curb. Patience is a virtue.

I went on two multi-day backpacking trips this summer but had mules carry my backpack the whole way on one trip and to our basecamp the second trip.

Covid 19 has not stopped my outdoor hiking and only temporarily interrupted my daily weight and resistance training. I have worked back up to five unassisted pull ups. My grip strength has improved and I am back to taking stubborn lids off jars for my wife. 

I am not as confident as when I was in my fifties but think Sharon and I can remain in our home for a few more years. God is good! 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Monterey, Pacific Grove, Point Lobos And 17 Mile Drive

Dale Matson

Click On Photos To Enlarge

We were unable drive to the east side of the Sierra because the smoke was worse over there and the Inyo National Forest trails were closed because of the smoke. So…we decided to spend a couple of days (Monday/Tuesday) on the central coast. From Fresno, we went north on Highway 99 to 152 to 156 and then south on Highway One to Monterey. It takes about 2.5 to 3 hours depending on traffic. 

The town hasn’t changed much over the years and we kind of knew our way around. We parked at the city lot near Fisherman’s Wharf and headed toward the Wharf for lunch. I think it is now called “Scales” but used to be called Fisherman’s Grotto. We got nice outside seats upstairs and had clam chowder in a bread bowl. After lunch we had a chocolate desert from a candy store just on the other side of the wharf. 

We then headed to Point Lobos (the whales are currently not migrating by). Point Lobos (poison oak aside) is a huge location with lots of trails along the ocean with some going through Cypress groves. If you want to see Pelicans, this is the place, although they migrate in the winter to Baja California (Mexico).

There are also harbor seals and sea lions on the rocks with other costal birds. Many of the rocks are white with guano from the birds. 

The sound of the ocean surf reminds me of an endless lullaby. The ocean also has its own smells. Drying seaweed mixed with dead marine life. The sound helped dull my Tinnitus. It was fun to take off our shoes and socks and let the surf run up our ankles as we walked along the beach. Some folks would call this “Grounding” or “Earthing”. I love the various shades of blue and green the ocean calls forth and the waves crashing against the rocks.

We had brought a sack lunch with us from home so we had that for dinner at the historic Martine Inn in Pacific Grove. There was no coffee until breakfast at 8am so we walked up the street to the “First Awakening” coffee shop at 7am. 

After breakfast, we checked out and headed to 17-mile drive. After that we went back to the wharf in Monterey for lunch and had the same lunch had more candy at the same places again. Then we headed home to Fresno. 

Sharon On Beach At Asilomar

Lone Cypress