Sunday, December 30, 2007

Moorish Idol

This Moorish Idol was photographed off of Waikiki in an area that is now a marine preserve. Moorish idols live on small crustaceans and use their long snout to poke into small crevices for food.

Friday, December 28, 2007

American Anole

There was a cluster of beautiful yellow flowers on a bush arching over the Waimea river, visible from the bridge. The flowers look like they are in the pea family. Upon closer inspection, an American Anole was also lounging beneath the flowers, perhaps waiting for passing mosquitos or bees attracted to the flowers.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Red Coris Wrasse

Here's a picture of a really pretty Red Coris Wrasse I saw in Hanauma Bay today. The water was really rough and murky so the picture doesn't quite do it justice but it was a beauty.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Rare Hawaiian Duck (Koloa)

A mated pair of rare Hawaiian Koloa native ducks, Anas wyvilliana, splashed down while I was watching the fish in Waikiki. There were not at all afraid of the many tourists watching them and proceeded to browse off of the seaweek on the breakwater making for quite a siting!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays Everyone! Bert put on his very best antlers for the occasion, and as opposed to some of his antlered cousins, Bert really does fly. Merri Crisimassu. Felis Navidad. Mele Kalikimaka. Wishing you all the very best for 2008.

An Old Dog

A picture of a pretty old dog in Font Vieille. He moved his head a little to look my way and pose but that was the extent of the effort. Just an old dog's life.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bunting It

I give up. I looked through a bunch of sparrows, finches, bobolinks and Buntings, all with those little squat conical beaks. Frankly, they are all starting to look the same. If you're a bird person, let me know what this little guy is. Until then, I'm calling it a Bunting for lack of a better excuse. The little yellow patch on the forehead should be a clue but ironically, none of the birds had quite that coloration. So I give up. Hints and name donations will be graciously accepted.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Pea Family

I saw these gorgeous flowers at a nursery the other day. I didn't catch the name of it as I was in a hurry but I'd guess that they are in the Pea Family. Funny, we don't normally think of Peas as trees but some of them get pretty big. This one looked like a type of coral tree, possibly a yellow form.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Flying Kite

Found this White Tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus)at Mission Trails Park the other day. This was taken with a 500mm lens so, needless to say, the Kite was being a little camera shy. Try as I might, this was as close as it would let me get. I like to call these "hover hawks" because I see them hovering close to the highway waiting for ground squirrels to pop out of their dens. Outside of hummingbirds, they are the only other bird I have seen actively hover.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Cinnamon Teal

Just saw a new duck (well new to me anyhow). It's a Cinnamon Teal, Anas cyanoptera. It didn't let me get close enough to get a really nice picture but this one's not too bad. They are a beautiful orange-brown color. This one was napping on a little island in the river.


Here's a picture of pondweed or Potamogeton. It was blooming at the neigborhood nursery. Notably, it is pollinated by wasps. Fascinating.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Happy Holidays

Here's a picture of a Vascostylis I snapped at a small orchid symposium. It's so seldom that most people get to see the huge variety of orchids outside of the things they carry in the grocery store, I thought this would be fun. The parents of this (Vanda x Rhychostylis x Ascocentrum) are from Southeast Asia.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Prickly Welcome

Hahah! Prickly Welcome indeed! I couldn't resist the pun. Actually, I thought the little Barrel Cactus Welcome sign at the San Diego zoo was attractive, well done and rather catchy (no pun intended). I wouldn't want to have to weed around those babies though. Owwww. Happy Hump day.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Flash Ducking

Hummingbirds are amazingly acrobatic when they want to be. This is a picture of one doing a rapid move to the right to avoid my flash. It was quite a quandry between staying for food and ducking my flash, I'm sure. This is an Anna's Hummingbird, one of the 7 or 8 that have declared my feeder home.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

No Hummingbirds!?

I looked out my window and poof, no hummingbirds. I looked up and there was this huge red tailed hawk (not shown. The picture is a goshawk from Denali) looping around and even hovering. I find it hard to imagine that a big old red tailed would be eating teenie little hummingbirds. Just a mouthful of fluff. However, they must be on the menu or at least the hummingbirds think so. By the time I grabbed the camera, the hawk had moved on. Rats.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Duck Soup

Another picture from the Bay. It's been storming out. Windy, cold & rainy so this is from November. There were ducks everywhere. Most of these are Ruddy Ducks. It took me a while to realize that the telltale blue beaks were gone because it's winter. Go figure. There was one Western Grebe, Aechmophorus occidentalis, in the middle.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Most Profuse Egrets...

Hahah. So much for the corny title, huh? The big white bird with the black legs is a Great Egret, Ardea alba. While once profuse, nesting in huge colonies, they were hunted for their beautiful plumage. Their numbers have since recovered somewhat but are now hampered by dwindling wetlands and human encroachment. They are still quite a sight to see. The smaller egret with the orange legs is a probably a Snowy Egret(note black beak vs orange beak for Cattle Egret), Egretta thula. These are a little more frequent.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Great Blue on the Prowl

Here is a Great Blue Heron that was prowling through the eel grass for a tasty meal. I was so close I had to zoom out to get the whole bird. They are magnificent!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Blue Orchids

Blue Orchids are very rare. This is C. Ariel var. coerulea 'Bodante', one of the "blue" Cattleyas. It's a good grower, blooms well and is livening up the greenhouse for me.

Oh La La

A little picture from Marseille. I love the color of Mediteranian! Blue, blue, blue. Makes me wish I was there!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Have Faith

This little hummingbird was waiting for his turn at the feeder while it was raining in torrents outside. Through all the wind and all the rain, he was there patiently looking on.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Cheery Little Hummingbirds

I seem to have a little case of bronchitis, probably from all the dust and pollution in the air from those fires. While I was sitting in the kitchen sipping chicken soup the hummingbirds were there keeping me company. It was windy and rainy out and the feeder was whipping to and fro and, through all of that, some seven Anna's Hummingbirds were sucking food for all they were worth. They are amazingly tenacious little guys, considering their size.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Our Flag in the Oddest Places

Someone had placed a flag in an old pole that was sticking up under the highway. I liked the symmetry of the piers and the lighting so I snapped it. It is figuratively ironic relative to world opinion these days. We do pop up unannounced on occasion.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Well, of all things to call something, Bufflehead is not the most attractive of names. However, Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola), is what this little duck is called. He also Summers in Alaska and has found his way down to San Diego for the Winter.

Monday, November 26, 2007


There was a huge flock of Brants, Branta hernicula, grazing on eel grass in the San Diego River the other day. The last time I saw these, I was in Alaska in June. It looks like they followed me down for the winter. They were pretty tame and let me get close enough for a decent batch of pictures.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Black-Necked Stilts

Found these black-necked stilts, Himantopus mexicanus, feeding in the shallows yesterday. They are very similar and perhaps related to the black stilts in Hawaii (which are endangered).

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Shooting for the Moon

This gives a little meaning to shooting for the moon, or in my case, shooting the moon! Wow, if you look good you can even see the craters and their rim shadows on the edges. Amazing stuff. Imagine the asteroids that did that!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Passing Agave

The neighbors are landscaping their yard. They just put in this really cool Agave. Nasty sap on those things but they are certainly pretty...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hummingbird again with Flash

For you photo buffs, I figured I'd try the hummingbird again but with a flash. Wow, what a difference it makes!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Where's Bert?

The feeder ran out for a little bit and I suspect Bert the hummingbird has found a new home. However, Bert was quickly replaced by four new hummingbirds and a small family of finches. Without Bert chasing them all away, the population has grown a bit and the feeder now goes empty in about 3 days rather than in a week, like it used to.

Friday, November 16, 2007


So, is it a mosquito or a fly? I found this little mosquito wanna be sipping nectar on a flower (which is far better than biting me anyhow).

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Red Breasted Nuthatch

Here's a picture of a Red Breasted Nuthatch that was hanging out along the path along the mudflats outside of Anchorage. The nice paved walking/jogging path seemed a little out of place but it was quiet and there were a few photogenic birds around so who was I to complain.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Demon Duck

Here is a picture of the Demon Duck, aka Duckergeist, himself. I will not vouch for what mischief he is up to with that beak of his.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


An iguana basking in the sun. It was a little cool today, a much appreciated change from the hot fire-laden winds. The lizards where out in the sun to take advantage of whatever solar heating they could.

Torch Happy and the Tall Man

Torch Happy and the Tall Man are having fun with the tourists but hey, it was Halloween and all. Oh, okay, so it was actually homecoming but pretty close to Halloween (one night off). You have to love the evil grin on the guys face. What was he thinking anyhow? And the tall man? I'd stand a little further back from those torches if I were him!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Blue Orchids

This is a picture of Cattleya Blue Grotto 'Takasaki.' If this doesn't look truely blue, you're not color blind and it is not a bad color reproduction. True blue is very rare in orchids and a coerulean blue, as with this flower, is what is typically called blue. It is a rare genetic mutation that causes the general lavenders and yellows to be replaced with this blue-lavender which is called a coerulea form.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pelican Moment

Pelecanus occidentalis californicus. Whew. Brown Pelican. Oddly enough, they are not brown at all. There's no telling with common names. Looks grey and white to me. The Latin name means Western Pelican. Nothing wrong there. They were endangered for a while, apparently because DDT had caused their eggs to crack. They have since recovered and are quite plentiful along the coast and are not above begging for fish scraps in back of fishing boats.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Drosera Capensis

Well, I'm all fired out. Enough gloom and stats for a lifetime. Here's a picture of Drosera capensis, a carnivorous sundew plant. They are really quite pretty, with their little deadly drops of red dew sparkling in the sun. The little gnats they catch probably think about the same, at least until they get stuck.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ashy Drongo

Picture of an unknown black bird feasting on papaya. I'm guessing it is an Ashy Drongo, which is pretty apropos these days.

For those of you wondering about the San Diego Fire:

  • More than 1000 homes burned

  • 300,000 evacuated

Monday, October 22, 2007

San Diego Fire Stats so far...

  • 1 Fatality

  • 655 homes burned

  • 240,000 acres burned

  • 250,000 evacuated

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

The Fires Continue

The fires are still going on. Not clear if they are getting any better but hopefully the firefighters will make progress over night.

San Diego Fires

The huge cedar creek fire was only in 2003. That fire came within about 1.5 miles of the house. Now, four short years later we have the witch canyon fire and several others plus strong gusty winds and hot dry weather. Thankfully, these fires are a lot further away. Everyone is glued to the tv watching to see where the fire is going.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Red Gazelle

While I chose not to adorn my mantlepiece with this choice little trinket, they are kind of cute. They have them on sale at the San Diego zoo and they are normally handmade by natives and, thus, help some poor village. It made a nice picture too.

Meanwhile, the wildfires are raging in San Diego as are the dry desert (Santa Ana) winds. They expect gusts up to 70 mph which is not great for the houses out East. The city is under a blanket of smoke and reaks of burnt shrubbery. I've got all the windows closed and am hoping that our firemen will have managed to get this thing under control by tomorrow morning. Fingers and Toes crossed! Have a great Sunday.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Begging Duck

I dare say ducks are not above begging for a free handout. This one was no exception, as you can see by the hopeful look on his face.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pining for the dog...

I was looking out the rear window via the rear view mirror and I saw the little doggie nose prints on the glass and realized I still really miss that dog. Slowly, the tufts of fur and nose prints are getting wiped away and I suppose the memories will too. Still, it seems so quiet. Picture is of a Hawaiian Stilt I found on Maui.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Oh What Sharp Teeth You Have...

A quick picture of a river otter begging for food and showing us his sharp little teeth. My but they do look sharp.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Bert is Back

Bert, in this photo, being territorial and chasing off other hummingbirds from "his" feeder.

Friday, October 05, 2007


I haven't been posting much lately as I've being studying feverishly. I swear my camera is getting rusty from misuse. Such is life when you're going to work full time and school at night. Anyhow, here's a picture a snapped a while back of the rare Hawaiian Monk Seal.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Shell Ginger

Here is a close-up of a shell ginger flower. The hummingbirds love them and they put on quite a display. The flowers also last a little longer than the white, yellow and kahili gingers do. However, they do grow rather large, perhaps 10 feet tall or more, if they're happy.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Duck Napped

This little female long tailed duck appears to be napping on the job. You can still see the droplets of water, however, from her last dive.