Friday, February 29, 2008

Andean Condor Showing Some Wing

Here's an Andean Condor, Vultur gryphus, showing us some wing. Perhaps he was enjoying a little sun on an otherwise cool and cloudy day.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Swamp Monkey: See No Evil

Hear no evil; see no evil; speak no evil! Well, this swamp monkey is seeing no evil anyhow. They are the most expressive, human-like creatures!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Blue Crowned Hanging Parrot

Blue Crowned Hanging Parrot, Loriculus galgulus. Cute little guy, huh? These cute little guys are from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra and Borneo and are very fond of fruit.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Great Blue Heron on Lamp Post

Those herons get around don't they? Into your koi pond for a little sushi? Into your lilly pond for a little frog? On top of your lamp post? Hahah! This Great Blue Heron was enjoying his vantage point. This is a mature one with awesome neck plumage!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Just Your Passing Peacock

Peacock, Peafowl, whatever you call them, they sure do glisten under a good flash. Especially the pearlescent feathers on their head! It was rainy on Sunday so I was snapping with my flash.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Western Meadowlark on Barbed Wire

Clearly, a little barbed wire was not enough to scare off this Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta. Nor was it enough to keep him from singing a wonderful melodious tune. Not even my passing by with my huge telephoto was enough to phase this Meadowlark. I have heard them for years but, ironically, this is the first one that was audacious enough to pose in plain view for a snapshot. What a sight indeed.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Birds Make It Look Easy

Do you ever dream of flying? Wake up in the middle of a dream of soaring through the sky? Either way, birds make it look so easy. CA Brown Pelican coming in for a landing here.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Duck Hissy

Even ducks have hissy days. Here are two Blue-Winged Teals, Anas discors, having a hissy (literally). They are discernable by that telltale white crescent on their face. Blue-Winged Teals Summer in Canada through the Southern U.S. and range all the way down to Argentina for the Winter. This one was at the Mission River Preserve.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

American Avocet

A posting or two back, I promised a picture of an American Avocet, Recurvirostra americana. Well, here he is showing his lighter Winter colors. I had been pondering why their beaks are upturned so I did a little digging and found my answer. They use the base of their beak to stir up the mud and the little crustaceans which they prey upon. They also have a predilection for Brine Shrimp in the Great Salt Lake although they are more likely feeding on little amphipods in San Diego. Oh, and in case your Latin is a little rusty, Recurvirostra refers to the upturned (recurvi) nose (rostra/rostrum).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Clowesia Grace Dunn

This is Clowesia Grace Dunn, a hybrid that strongly resembles its Clowesia rosea parent. Clowesia rosea is a sturdy, drought tolerant, bulbous orchid from Michoacan and Oaxaca, Mexico. It certainly made a stunning display.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pelicans Drafting

I saw these Pelicans in a huge formation flying over Imperial Beach. The California Brown Pelican used to be endangered. DDT was causing their eggs to crack. However, they are now a success story species recovery and for a regulatory change that banned DDT. They are now one of the few species successfully being taken off of the endangered species list!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Northern Pintail

I saw this Northern Pintail, Anas acuta, at the Mission River preserve today. The ducks were out in force as they typically are during low tide. The seagulls were busy dropping clams on the pavement as well. Also, I finally saw an Avocet. It had me wondering how it helps gather food by having an upturned beak. It's fun being on the migratory route of so many birds.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Surfing Imperial Beach

Imperial beach was empty today. There were some nice waves and only two surfers along the entire beach. It was a tad cold but if you don't like competing for waves, it doesn't get any better.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Amazing Invisible Owl

They have nesting Burrowing Owls, Athene cunicularia, at the Tijuana Estuary Preserve. They are on the inside of the airbase fence so you can only see them from a distance (perhaps 150 feet?). I walked right by the first time. Somebody told me about the tiny little yellow signs the second time and, voila, there they were. It is ironic that the signs are covered with bird poop. I suspect it isn't owl poop either.

They range throughout North and South America and are threatened through most of their range by habitat loss. These owls were far enough away that I could barely see them with the naked eye. Thus, these pictures are the best I could do with my 500mm lens from the fence. I think I'll have to settle for seeing the burrowing owls at the Wild Animal Park if I want to see any up close.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Caliope Hummingbird

I saw this tiny little female hummingbird at the Tijuana Estuary the other day. After much staring at pictures and gnashing of teeth, I decided that it was probably a female Caliope Hummingbird, Stellula calliope. It was decidedly smaller than the other hummingbirds in the area (Anna's hummingbirds) and quite photogenic.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Say's Phoebe

This charming little bird would perch on the wire fence just about 20 feet. As I walked toward him, he would move a little further down the fence, as if I were playing tag. He was spotted at the Tijuana Estuary Preserve. I looked him up in "Birds of San Diego County," by Philip Unitt (which just showed up in the mail today). He is a Say's Phoebe, Sayornis Saya. It says these little guys are a fairly common Winter visitor on the coastal slope. The rest of the year they are found in open agricultural land, grassland, chaparral and desert scrub. They have been known to breed in the Anza Borrego Desert.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lavatera assurgentiflora

I saw this blooming on the edge of the bog the other day. The flower structure suggests that it is in the Hibiscus family but I'm open to suggestions. Anybody want to take a stab at it? Maybe you have a copy of Hibiscus of the World lying on your bookshelf? Either way, it was pretty so I snapped a quick picture. Besides, it posed better than those tiny burrowing ground owls I was trying to get a picture of.

Much thanks to our anonymous commenter who came to the rescue and provided the name: Lavatera assurgentiflora.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Spotted Towhee

This Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus, was singing up a storm. He responded readily to fake calls and was perched in a large bush on the edge of the wetland area in the Tijuana Estuary Preserve.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Return of the Variegated Meadowhawk

Just for fun, here's a closeup of that Variegated Meadowhawk, Sympetrum corruptum.

Variegated Meadowhawk Dragonfly

Here's one for you budding entomologists. I found this Variegated Meadowhawk (dragonfly), Sympetrum corruptum, perched above a bog in the Tijuana estuary. Much thanks to Kathy Biggs for the identification. This was the only dragonfly that I saw all day.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Sophronitis coccinea

Sophronitis coccinea is in the parentage of many of today's red Cattleya hybrids. It is a diminutive plant of about 3 inches in height and grows in moist, cool cloud forests. It is tough for many people to grow because of the requirement for cool moist conditions while its hybrids are much more vigorous.

Friday, February 08, 2008

South Coast Orchid Show

They are having an orchid show at the Newport Beach Fairgrounds this weekend. This is a photo of Pleurothallis gargantua. Many of the familiar pleurothallids are tiny, perhaps not more than an inch tall. However, this one, as denoted by the name gargantua, is perhaps two feet tall with these very exotic flowers in the center of the leaves.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Ghost Crab

A ghost crab peeks up from his burrow. This was taken out on a beach near Chinaman's hat (now renamed to something in Hawaiian last I much for being PC) on Oahu. You see lots of these little guys running along the sand at night scavenging the beach.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

On the Boardwalk

There is a "boardwalk" along Waikiki Beach. Along the boardwalk there is a small shelter with tables for chess and checkers. Sometimes there are people playing the ukelele. Sometimes there are people singing old songs. Sometimes there is a guy playing the violin. He was decent and had a few people listing. Mostly, I think he just enjoyed the company. Company is good. Sometimes a little company is all the doctor calls for.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Inside Diamond Head

Many people have seen Diamond Head or at least pictures of Diamond Head, typically as viewed from Waikiki. In those pictures, Diamond head looks like a long, low ridge. Well, it's not. Diamond Head is a cinder cone (as you would expect) and is really quite circular as this picture, taken from the top of Diamond Head, easily shows.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Gigantic Grouper

There is nothing quite like the feeling of having a Giant Grouper looking down at you. Glad that people are not normally grouper food. Wow, look at those teeth, too.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


Wrasses have the scariest teeth, don't they? I believe they live on shrimp and small crustaceans although I have seen them tear apart a sea urchin.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Klingon Bird of Prey

I was clicking through my pictures and came to the amusing conclusion that these two Marbled Godwits, Limosa fedoa, bore a striking resemblance to a Klingon Bird of Prey. Well, perhaps if that long pointy beak wasn't there anyhow. There must have been a bird person on the Star Trek design staff.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Little Blue Heron

I found this Little Blue Heron, Egretta caerulea, hunting in the shallows of the Mission River, It was keeping a sharp eye on the water for passing fish. They are not exceedingly common in the US Southwest but they there are several the frequent the Mission River.