The San Benito RV and Camping Resort in Paicines, California, is a fantastic place to stay if you want to get ‘away from it all’. Because of its distance from the nearest town, the resort has abundant wildlife. While there, we were able to see animals that we’ve never seen up close before – like bobcats.
We were so excited when we walked to the camp store our first evening and were told that bobcats were essentially the campground’s mascot because there were so many of them! Seriously, so excited! They also said there were lots of wild pigs and deer. We were there for three weeks and I couldn’t wait for all the bobcat and fox photos I was going to get! Umm…yeah.
We did see lots of black-tailed deer. The herd lives in the valley, so they were around most of the time. There were several fawns and mamas along with just a few young bucks.
The road to town wound through vineyards and crops, which is where we could see several ravens snacking on whatever bugs they could get out of the tilled soil. They were always so far away that I couldn’t get a good shot of them, but I did stop to take some pics of a starling murmuration one day. (Click on the pics to see better.)
Speaking of Corvidae, the magpies were constantly chattering in and under the trees. The darn things are so fast that I only finally got a couple of photos as we were packing up to leave! I do love those birds, though, all the Corvidae really, and am excited to be in a region with magpies again.
Other birds we saw regularly in the campground were Acorn Woodpeckers, White-Crested Sparrows, and California Quail. The sparrows were always in a good-sized flock flitting around on the ground snatching up bugs and seeds. The quail were really good at running to hide the moment they knew they were seen. They’re pretty little things with a bit of dusky blue. The woodpeckers’ story is interesting. Acorn Woodpeckers bore holes in the bark of a ‘granary’ tree to store acorns. They’re not boring for insects (though maybe they’re grabbing some as they go). They apparently store them for emergency winter food just like squirrels. I wondered why they’d do this since the local ground squirrels can climb even though they live in the earth. It turns out that several woodpeckers will group together to create and protect a single granary tree so the squirrels can’t steal the acorns. Pretty smart!
Throughout our stay, we kept looking for the pigs, bobcats, and foxes. Chelsea came to visit and we talked a little about foxes, then one night we heard them yipping off in the distance. So cool! And that meant we knew there were some in the vicinity. I thought I heard a coyote too, but wasn’t sure with all the yipping. While Chelsea was with us, none of our ‘big three’ showed up…until we were driving out of the campground to take Chelsea back to San Jose. Suddenly there was a Grey Fox about 50 feet from us! I snapped a few quick pics with my cell phone before it ran off. The one where you can’t see its head is because it’s nosing into a ground squirrel hole. It was so exciting and I was really happy she got to see one. Interesting fact: Grey Foxes can climb trees! (Thanks, Dan, for that tidbit.)
We knew the pigs were there because you could see freshly turned soil every day. They even were rooting around our hookups one morning, but we never heard or saw them. I grew up with pigs and you know what? They are not that quiet! I still can’t believe we never heard them outside our RV.
We did finally see a coyote as we were coming back from town one day. It was broad daylight, so kind of surprising; but there it was just trotting along a trail just off the road. I know many people feel coyotes are overpopulated and ‘nuisance’ animals, but I love them. I grew up with a pack near our property and they were often in our back area howling and prowling. To me, they’re as cool as wolves (which could be a very long conversation, so I’ll just stop here.)
One thing we did get a lot of photos of is the Domestic Medium Hair feline – subspecies Coyote, Callie and Slinky. Here’s just a few photos for your entertainment. 😉
On our last day, I was disappointed we didn’t get to see the pigs or the bobcats; but was really happy with our stay and all the wildlife we did get to experience. I was sure, too, that someday we’d get to see a bobcat in the wild. Sure enough, as we were driving to the exit of the campground, we split and took two different roads. (We’re still not set up for towing. Soon, Dale. Really.) As I came upon the spot where we’d seen the fox, I saw something moving in front of the bushes. I thought maybe it was the fox again and slowed to a stop. Imagine my surprise when a bobcat just walked by my car! I was so excited and didn’t want to miss her, so I just snapped as many photos as I could with my cell phone. Then…oh my gosh…then her two older kittens appeared! It was so cool! The moment was only lessened by the fact that Brian wasn’t there to see them. I kept taking photos until they were out of view hoping my cell phone would capture something good for Brian. According to the ranger I spoke to on the way through the gate, the bobcats aren’t usually out during the day in the fall; so I was really lucky to see them. They suggest February and March if you want a better chance at seeing them.
Last, and certainly not least, as we were driving past the vineyards on our way out, a gorgeous Golden Eagle flew up from the ground – startled by the big RV driving about twelve feet from it. What an amazing sight! We have them in Washington, but I’ve never seen one that close and the sun was shining so perfectly that I now fully understand why they’re called Golden Eagles. It was so beautiful. (Sorry, no pic. I was driving!)
Wow. Well, I just have to say it again. If you want to get away and experience some wildlife, San Benito RV and Camping Resort is definitely a good way to do it. I’ll talk more about the campground itself in another article.
Be groovy, friends, and remember to live your journey…