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USA 2018 (15), Horses, waterfowl, and people.  From Bozeman, I flew via Denver to Burbank, Los Angeles. And true to form, the second of these flights was about an hour late arriving. I’m not sure we were ever given a reason this time, but it meant my niece,  Karina, had to hang around for me.  There wasn’t much of the day left, and there are no photos of that day.

Karina was having car worries, but she had worked out a plan to minimise disruption the following day, Friday 23rd February, which she had kindly taken off work. In any case, as I told her, I wasn’t there to do stuff, but just to be with her in her normal life – though, as she replied, sitting around in a car dealer’s was hardly typical!  However, that was not for long.  Having deposited the car, she took me off (thanks to a courtesy shuttle) for brunch at ‘Marmalade’ in Thousand Oaks.P1300807001 She had warned me late in January that they had been experiencing temperatures in the eighties Fahrenheit (upwards of 26ºC) in her part of Los Angeles county. This had not lasted though, and my t-shirts were unnecessary.  While it was sunny, there was a definite chill in the air, and locals found it cold.

Karina practices dressage to what seems to me (a total non-expert) a very high amateur level. We visited the Keenridge stables, where she has a few lessons from a former Olympian, Hilda Gurney (bronze medal US team dressage 1976). The aura of this woman was palpable.P1300809001P1300810001P1300813001


Pepper tree

From here we went to spend time (and Karina effort) with her own horse, Klassie, at the equestrian centre where he is stabled.


I saw quite a lot of the devastation caused by the recent wildfires and mudslides in southern California.  I didn’t think it decent to take photos, but I seem inadvertently to have captured here some of the damage caused by wildfires which had happened very near Karina’s stables – causing evacuation – a few months prior to the ones which made the headlines in, mainly, Ventura and Santa Barbara.


Karina is not short – Klassie is tall!

Towards the end of the day, because Karina knows I like walking, we were joined by a friend of hers, Sara, who took us into and up Griffith Park, Los Angeles.


Looking back


Karina and Sara graciously agreed to my taking this photo of them against the background of downtown LA


On the way back down

The following day, Sunday, Karina had another car problem, but this could be sorted at a tire/tyre place within walking distance of her home, after she had paid an early visit to her own stables for a lesson there.


Meanwhile, the lovely Patches looked after me.

Looking at the time available for the rest of the day, before an evening meet-up, we decided to visit a local park, which Karina had never got around to seeing herself.  I was pleased to give her a reason to do so.P1300839001 It looked as if it might take us no time at all to walk around the lake, but Karina did not know just how long I can linger when looking at wildlife!  (This time I had no wildlife expert or bird book to identify the birds we were seeing, so I have been hesitant in my labelling.  One problem is that there can be American versions of Eurasian birds which look almost identical, c.f. ravens and magpies. Corrections and additions would be gratefully received.)


Like the Eurasian grey heron



These three caused much amusement. Is the second goose (gander) in courtship mode, with his tail feathers up? Is the little white bird a chaperone? In love with the first goose?


The threesome stayed together for all the time we were aware of them


Even when the geese eyed up the ?American bittern, [Later: I think it might be a juvenile Black-crowned night heron]


the little white bird was close by



“Do not feed the ducks”


OK, coots are not ducks but…


Grackle, I think



I couldn’t see what these birds were, about the size of starlings, but they were making a heck of a racket as we walked by the tree


I’d love to know what the ducks on the right with the green streak are





I’m pretty sure these are Egyptian Geese

A further visit to Klassie ended the afternoon, and I was delighted to see this coyote hanging around, on a hillside just outside the premises, as the sun began to set.P1300943001 The evening was spent very pleasurably at the restaurant of an Irish pub, (I had fish and chips!) with three of Karina’s horsey friends.  The talk was very little of horses and much of my Yellowstone trip, which I was delighted to recount.

I thought the photo of the coyote at the stables might be the last picture in this whole USA 2018 series – but I was to be mistaken.  The flight home was very visually exciting.