John & Anne Wiley

2018/02/27

Island Colors

Santa Barbara is our favorite region to fly. Among the many reasons is the delicious set of Santa Barbara Channel Islands just a few minutes from SBA. March 29, 2017 we decided to fly out and see if they were still green from the Spring rains, and maybe even spot some wildflower blooms.

Every takeoff from SBA immediately greets the observer with 360 degrees of magnificent views, plus of course the view up into the blue (often with a garnish of a few clouds) and back downward for a new perspective on the familiar scenes below.

7529 Down to UCSB

7529 Down to UCSB

Views like this of the Campus Point part of UCSB are always beautiful, though on this day we were climbing at full power and thus already higher than usual above the foot and bike paths, surfers, SUPs, rolling waves and placid lagoon.

Soon we saw a giant pod of dolphins swimming and leaping toward the West across our path.

7745 1/3 Dolphin Frenzy

7745 1/3 Dolphin Frenzy

This is only about a third of the pod, cropped to give a sense of the size while also showing a tiny bit of detail. In the full-resolution pic you can see that many of them are under the water, while this pic shows mostly the ones breaking the surface. Wonder what the frenzy was about!

Our eyes were still darting to and fro taking in the wonders as we descended along the North shore of San Miguel Island, one of our two favorites among the four clustered off our coast (Anacapa is the other). I’m seduced by the flat striped West end that presented this angle when we turned back eastward along the South shore.

7784 East San Miguel Island

7784 West San Miguel Island

In this particular view I see a coyote leaping left about to gulp a big meal (the high tide islet formed by Point Bennett just offshore). Off in the distance beyond I snapped this zoom of stony Castle Rock across to the North.

7793 Sea Caves

7793 Sea Caves

There are lots of sea caves on the islands, and this little rocky companion boasts quite a collection. I presume they’re used by lots of wildlife. Dustings of white lead me to guess that plenty of birds hang out on the rocks between meals, or maybe longer to raise their families. Here’s a wide shot with Castle Rock at the top center, showing some of San Miguel’s colors that day.

7794 San Miguel Colors

7794 San Miguel Colors

I like how the variations in ocean color complement the shades of sand and life. Many of the grayish hues along the beaches are actually large groups of pinnipeds digesting their lunch in the warm sun. Here’s a closer look at the island colors, with a soft wash of purple, blue and yellow wildflowers.

7797 San Miguel Bloom

7797 San Miguel Bloom

Now a zoom of this little cove with its striated rocks, surging and receding waves, arroyo meanders, and dappled textures in greens, browns and blues.

7809 Tidal Cove

7809 Tidal Cove

A few leisurely minutes later we were looking back toward the Northwest at this glorious long view, already on our way East to the other islands.

7839 San Miguel to NW

7839 San Miguel to NW

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