Flash of Blue
By Chuck Graham   |   April 8, 2021

From my kayak I could hear the distinctly harsh shek-shek-shek of the island scrub jay, a songbird that has the smallest range of any bird in North America. As I paddled west along the tranquil northerly shore of Santa Cruz Island, my periphery caught a flash of blue through my 300mm lens streaking through a […]

Bears of the Sea
By Chuck Graham   |   December 3, 2020

I’d never been so popular before, as dozens of northern fur seal pups surrounded me while mugging my kayak with demonstrative splashes and harmless bumps into my boat in the dense kelp forests of Adams Cove on the western fringe of San Miguel Island. It was quite possible that these raucous eared fur seals – […]

 

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More from Montecito

My Wandering Pilgrim
By Chuck Graham   |   November 19, 2020

My early morning trail run up to Montanon Ridge on the southeast end of Santa Cruz Island was at a pace I wasn’t proud of. Cold, wet fog swirled over the volcanic isle. My joints ached but loosened with each stride above Potato Harbor, then Coche Point, and finally ascending above Chinese Harbor. Stunning seascapes […]

Trekking into Biodiversity
By Chuck Graham   |   November 12, 2020

It wasn’t rain falling in the rainforest of the Corcovado National Park, located on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, but it was raining leaves, bushels of them floating beneath the canopy that was so dense it blocked out the sun. The wind wasn’t blowing, yet the leaves continued to fall. Instead, there was a […]

Santa Barbara to Santiago de Compostela: A Healing Journey
By Ann Brode   |   November 12, 2020

For centuries, pilgrims have walked the Camino de Santiago in northwestern Spain looking for absolution, healing, and spiritual inspiration. In recent years, seeking a reprieve from the complexities of ordinary life, people of all faiths have been trekking this ancient route, staying in dormitory-style hostels and collecting stamps in a pilgrim’s passport. Similar to Joseph […]

Speed Thrills: Chronicles from the fastest land mammal in North America
By Chuck Graham   |   November 5, 2020

I almost lost them in the densely vibrant fields of hillside daisies within the Carrizo Plain National Monument. They were about a half-mile west of where I stood, my Canon 300mm IS lens aimed in their direction. I was hoping for them to meander my way, but with wildlife you never know. They have their […]

Keeping the Wild in the Wilderness
By Chuck Graham   |   September 24, 2020

I had to admit it. I was lost and feeling a little meager, the grandeur of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), the largest refuge in North America, was swallowing me whole. Located in northeastern Alaska, the braiding Canning River was a maze of channels that separated me from the rest of my group. I […]

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Nameless No More
By Chuck Graham   |   September 10, 2020

The barks and bellows from raucous California sea lions wafted skyward from their seaside rookery just beyond wave-battered Potato Harbor. Ascending the newly named Montanon Ridge Loop Trail, I loped across a craggy, rolling marine terrace, that cacophonous marine mammal serenade gradually drifting away, aided by wispy northwest winds above Coche Point on Santa Cruz […]

Giving a Hoot
By Gretchen Lieff   |   August 13, 2020

Owls have long lived in my most favorite category. Their stoic demeanor. Their wisdom. The intensity of the screech owl’s screech, the trills and lonely melodic resonance of the great horned owl’s “hoot hoots,” and the barn owl’s hissing rasp. Twice this week the California Highway Patrol rescued owls hit by a car along Highway […]

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Staying Grounded, When Everything is Up in the Air
By Ann Brode   |   August 13, 2020

A bit of uncertainty can be exciting. A script with a surprise ending has intrigue. Embracing the unknown is part of the artistic process. But when the reliable routines of everyday life have been scrambled, it’s a whole different story. Negotiating the new normal of social distancing, working at home, and Zoom classrooms has challenged […]

A Memorial Day Swim
By Irene Russo   |   August 13, 2020

The Ocean Renegades at the Miramar Things Fall Apart; the center cannot holdMere anarchy is loosed upon the world,The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywherethe ceremony of innocence is drowned;The best lack all conviction while the worstare full of passionate intensity. WB Yeats Miramar oh Miramar, you are an icon of beauty, a tribute to […]

The Nesting Ground
By Chuck Graham   |   August 6, 2020

The Santa Clara River Estuary was a graveyard of tattered driftwood, tangled kelp balls, a rotting sea lion carcass that was so putrid it could only attract a pair of turkey vultures. A high ceiling of overcast kept the early morning comfortably cool. The sand was coarse and gritty, perfect for breeding and nesting western […]

Dear Montecito: Ally Hodosy
By Stella Haffner   |   August 6, 2020

As schools around the country start to reopen and older students begin the migration back to college life, I worry about the safety of teachers and pupils alike. But a smaller, less socially conscious voice in the back of my head quietly cheers for the small freedom of leaving home. Some of us may have […]

Bandit, Ann, and Abe
By Gretchen Lieff   |   August 6, 2020

When you’ve been quarantined for weeks and a tree falls on your house, at least you’ve got your friends, and your dog Ferocious winds tore through Montecito that night, leaving a wake of damage and power outages. Forecasters blamed a strengthening ridge of high pressure and weak offshore gradients for producing the scary and destructive […]

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