Feb 2011 Yokohl Valley Safaris

It’s difficult to not drive the 35 miles into Yokohl Valley every day.  Located east of Exeter, Ca in the Sierra foothills, Yokohl Valley isn’t a long valley, maybe 15 miles before it switchbacks up and over a ridge and into Spring Valley, which is more heavily populated.  Yokohl Valley is mostly cattle ranches with some smaller dwellings and homes scattered along the road.  The road serpentines through miles of oak woodlands.  It is a favorite destination for many wildlife watchers and bicyclists.  I was up there on Feb 2 with Jim Skinner and on Feb 10 with Allan Shirley – both short, afternoon safaris.

We saw many different types of birds, as well as a bobcat, coyotes, and an eagle.  Besides the wildlife there are great landscape views.  Right now the oaks are without leaves, but the greening grass from all the rain provide an interesting carpet of color to surround the trees and blanket the hillsides.  The upper part of the valley is a favorite destination of mine for wildflowers, especially the switchbacks at the end of the valley.

Savannah Sparrow in Yokohl Valley

There are numerous birds flitting about: Savannah Sparrows, Northern Shrikes, American Kestrels, Red-tailed hawks, Acorn Woodpeckers, California Quail, etc.  On the 10th Allan and I spotted a nice bobcat that had come down from the hillsides into a small meadow to hunt squirrels – just 50 yards away he proved to be a good subject.  There was still some color in the California Sycamore leaves as he listened for prey, then stealthily hunted through the meadow.

Bobcat in Yokohl Valley

I’ve photographed a number of bobcats in the valley, as has Allen and Jim, and while the coyotes are subject to predator control by the ranchers – they seem to leave the bobcats alone.  This particular bobcat had ears damaged from fights with other cats – and will be easy to identify if I run across him/her again.  I was never close enough to identify the sex, though I’ve seen bigger bobcats – so maybe this was a female.

Bobcat in Yokohl Valley

This image of the coyote I shot on the 2nd with Jim and his wife, Annie.  A few days later there were two coyote carcasses in the meadow a short distance away with a bald eagle on one – no doubt the victims of predator control by local ranchers.

Coyote in Yokohl Valley

I do a photo safari up Yokohl Valley on Saturday, March 26th which should be close to peak green colors and lots of wildflowers.  Below are some of the landscape images I took last year on numerous safaris to the valley.

Spring in Yokohl Valley - 2010

Spring in Yokohl Valley - 2010

The leafless oaks make for interesting subjects as the dot the green meadows of the valley.  Fiddleneck, California Poppies, Popcorn Flowers, Lupine … and dozens of other wildflowers fill the meadows and road sides.  Some meadows were literally covered in wildflowers – acre after acre of Fiddleneck and Popcorn flowers.   I would think that after all the rain we have had the mountains should just glow with wildflowers this year.  With the flowers come birds and butterflies giving the determined photographer dozens and dozens of possible subjects as you drive the road.

The Yokohl Valley Road begins off of Highway 198, a mile or two past the entrance to the Badger Hill estates – the big mountain on the right with all the houses on it after you pass the turn to Exeter.  It can also be reached by crossing over the pass between Badger Hill and Stony Hill.  Right now the oranges in all the surrounding orchards are ripe and make for great subjects as well.

Chinese Houses from 2010

Mustang Clover from 2010

These are just two of the hundreds of flower images I took last spring in Yokohl Valley.

About brentrpaull

Professional Photographer
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