Tuesday, July 28, 2015

San Diego County Orchid Society Show

There were three AOS awards at the San Diego County Orchid Society Show.

Catyclia Leaf Hopper 'Bruce Berg' HCC/AOS

Dracula Raven 'Windflower' HCC/AOS

Encyclia Lorraine Smith 'Arnieberry' AM/AOS

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Small Waves but Still Some Fun to be Had

The shore was covered with tuna crabs, washed in by the tide.  It was enough to attract a modest crowd.  Some of us busied ourselves, perhaps futilely  returning the live tuna crabs to the surf.  Out in the water, the waves were big enough to push the surfers along for a few moments but not too much more, often cresting from multiple points in the wave at the same time.  Besides, there were probably more surfers than waves to go around.  However, a few of the faithful managed to make some good sport out of the waves, this surfer managing to launch up into the air and, somewhat to my surprise, land back on the board.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Tuna Crabs Invade Ocean Beach

Heerman's Gulls, Larus heermannii, fighting over a Tuna crab stranded on the beach.

This pelagic red crab (Pleuroncodes planipes), also known as the tuna crab, is one of many tuna crabs washed ashore during the June 2015 El Nino event. Tuna crabs are one of the more numerous pelagic creatures populating the California current. As such, they they are a favored food of tuna, yellowtail, billfish, sea otters, whales, and sea birds. It is speculated that they wash ashore as part of a spawning event, with the larvae riding the current out into the central Pacific. As they grow larger, they descent into a deeper current with then returns them towards the coast of North and South America.

I searched for the tuna crabs that were still living, despite having been stranded on the beach, and set this little tuna crab and some of his tuna crab brothers & sisters back into the tide.  Futile?  Perhaps...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Pictures from the San Diego County Fair

Lots of plants, art, fossils, rocks and animals plus fried food galore!  That's the county fair for you.  Here are a few pictures from a fun day at the fair.

Aloe tomentosa

Dahlia Pee Gee

The amazing racing piggies!

Those little piggies really fly!


Monday, May 25, 2015

Natural Hybrid Hummingbird (Anna's X Allen's)

A lovely male hummingbird showing a gorget that is intermediate between the Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte Anna) and the Allen's Hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin). Apparently, hummingbirds occassionally interbreed. This Anna's x Allen's hybrid was once named as a new species, Selasphorus floresii, until it was determined that it was actually a naturally occurring hybrid.

When I shot this picture, I remember being simply transfixed by the brilliant gorget feathers that reflected a brilliant copper-orange and metallic red, thinking it was the most beautiful hummingbird I had seen.  I was so transfixed, that, while I registered that the coloration was uniquely attractive and hypnotic under the sun,  I only realized this handsome male bird was likely a hybrid when I looked again at the picture, comparing it to multiple pictures before posting.  After much searching online, I finally found pictures of hummingbird hybrids and confirmed that this is likely an Anna's by Allen's hybrid.

Friday, May 22, 2015

My Little Buddy...

Male Anna's Hummingbird, Calypte anna, taking wing.  I dare say I'm pretty attached to these little birds.  Each morning, after their evening torpor, they swarm the feeders and again, as the sun sets, to store up enough food to survive the cool evenings.  Some nights there may be 15 or more of them.  They're smart enough to recognize the guy who fills the feeder (aka, me).  They will actually come up and look me in the eye and chirp at me.  Fascinating little birds.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Gotta Love those Anna's Hummingbirds

Male Anna's Hummingbird, Calypte anna, perched on an apricot branch. I really do enjoy watching these little guys. Two of them came up to say hello, face to face, yesterday! Very curious, vocal and amazingly smart.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Male Allen's Hummingbird, Selasphorus sasin

Male Allen's Hummingbird, Selasphorus sasin, showing off his amazing, irridescent gorget!  These are my all time favorites!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Allen's Hummingbird

This little Allen's hummingbird (female), with a bit of pollen on her nose, was taking a break on the apricot tree in my back yard.  Allen's hummingbirds used to be restricted in range between Santa Barbara northwards through Southern Oregon.  However, some of these lovely and very feisty hummingbirds have since colonized Los Angeles County,  Orange County, and San Diego County, likely due to the presence of hummingbird feeders and human floral plantings, providing ample food for both the Allen's and Anna's hummingbirds in the area.  I used to only see the Allen's Hummingbirds as they migrated through the area during the Spring and Fall; however, several of these lovely birds have settled into the neighborhood and provide many moments of joyful viewing.

Silly Signs

Every now and then you see a sign or a t-shirt or a slogan that's just so silly and outlandish that you have to chuckle...  Perhaps the secret is to be so outlandish that nobody will take it seriously.  This one was posted outside the Fathom Restaurant on the pier at Shelter Island in lovely, mostly sunny San Diego, California.

On another note, we have received 2.25 inches of rain so far, this May, making it the second wettest May on record.  The 2015 May rainfall was exceeded (so far) only by May 1921 with 2.54 inches of rain!  Ironically, relatively little of it is caught for human uses, the area being largely dependent on mountain snowfall over the Summer months.  This Winter was warm and dry, thus still leaving the area in the grips of the drought, less a little May reprieve for our gardens, canyons and wildlife, all of which clearly needed the water.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sealion Aces Out the Pelicans

This cleaver California sealion jumped up into the air and snapped up the fish mid-stream before the pelicans could!