Monday, March 31, 2008

And Turtle, Too!

In the lilly pond with the frogs... Did I mention there was a red slider turtle too? Yes, red sliders like lilly pads too and this one is just small enough to hop out on a lilly pad -- well, almost.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Would You Kiss This Frog?

The water lillies are blooming and the frogs are out enjoying the sun. This little frog has staked out his own private lilly pad! The lilly pond is at the Quail Botanical Gardens.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Quail Botanical Gardens Plant Sale

This Protea was one of many wonderful plants for sale today at the Annual Quail Botanical Gardens Plant sale. We ended up with two geraniums, one that smells like spearmint and the other like chocolate, two tomatos and a bunch of succulents for the garden.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Navy Seals

While we're on pictures of seals and sea lions, the Navy Seals were out training the other day (at least that was my best guess). They swam two huge, awkward platforms across the bay, tossed each other around on the grass, jogged up a few miles and back and then swam the platform back to the other side. It all looked like some serious work to me. But then hey, that's why they're Seals and I'm not.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Water Dog

This little dog has a hunting streak in him. There was a flock of American Coots that was slowly swimming out of reach while his owner kept ahold of the leash. Silly little dog wanted to go swim out after them (as if a swimming dog could really catch up with a Coot!). I suppose it's the spirit that counts!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Summer-like Days

The weather has turned hot and sunny and you would swear it was summer. There are still foggy mornings to prove that Spring has not totally forgotten us but oh what glorious days.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sea Lion Pups

As opposed to the seals that had reserved a whole beach, the California Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus) had reserved a nice wide piece of rock. They were all stretched out in the sun and lying all over each other in one big snuggly mass. The seals like their space but the sea lions are all for free loving. This picture shows one of the new sea lion pups howling for Mom while another is busily draping himself over pup #1. Oh, and less you think they are too snugly, note that male sea lions reach 8 ft. in length and 860 lbs. Sea lions' natural predators are Orcas and White Sharks.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Baby Harbor Seals

There is a little beach in La Jolla called the Children's Pool; aka., the seal beach. It is the only beach in San Diego (that I know of anyhow) where you can see wild harbor seals up close. They pup there and generally hang out all year round. One can only imagine that seals used to live like this on beaches all up and down the coast before the Sunbathers took over the place. Either way, it's an incredible opportunity to teach kids and adults alike a little more about nature. However, there is a contingent of La Jolla residents who would prefer the beach be "seal-free" so that the kids would have one more place to swim. Now, I happen to think that the kids, especially rich La Jolla kids, have lots of places to swim but only one place to see wild seals. In any case, it's a huge commotion in the city. Some guy is suing to force the city to dredge out the pool and scare off the seals. The conservationists are suing to have the marine mammal protection act enforced. What a zoo (no pun intended)! As for me, I'm taking all the seal pictures I can while they're still there.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

California Brown Pelican

The California Brown Pelican in breeding plumage. The males get downright gaudy. The females appear to keep their white bellies.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Horny Toad

We saw this Horned Toad (really a Horned lizard but, hey, that's what they call them), Phrynosoma platyrhinos, up in Mission Trails Park. He was out basking in the middle of the path. They live largely on ants, eating up to 100 a day. The spines protect them from snakes, roadrunners and other predators.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Wild Orchids in Bloom

Photo is of an Orchis species, a hardy terrestrial orchid, blooming in the South of France. They can be found along the roadside and, in olden times, were considered a sign of virility due to their paired tubers.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Kori Bustard

This is a Kori Bustard or Ardeotis kori. It comes from Africa including Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and North Tanzania; there is also a Southern population. It took a while to find the name of this exotic bird but I finally found in a listing of birds of Kenya. This Kori Bustard was eyeing the ground closely, looking for food. He also had a slight limp as he stalked the grassy areas.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Shopping at Fred's

I went shopping at Fred's the other day for a few new plants. Can you say Orch-a-holic? I also brought the camera along. This is a picture of Cattleya lueddemanniana var. semi-alba named after M. Lueddemann, an orchidist who live in Paris in the late 1800s. Hahah, you two could have a genera named after you if you discover it! I suspect the good ones are mostly gone, however...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


The cheetahs were out at the Wild Animal Park. It was a cool, drizzly day and that suited them just fine. Ironically, the keeper was in the pen with them yacking away about Cheetahs, their lack of genetic diversity and other topics. Would you get in a cage with not one but three Cheetahs? He barely seemed to be mindful of them being there. But wait, is that a cheetah scratch on his cheek?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Territorial American Coot or Got the Cooties?

Have you ever had one of those grouchy days when you just wish everyone would leave you alone? This American Coot, Fulica americana, is certainly having one! I spotted a female with eggs in a nearby papyrus clump and the male may have been acting territorial around the nest. Whatver the case, he was chasing all comers!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Spring has Sprung?

Happy Palm Sunday! It's a beautiful sunny day outside here in San Diego (if a bit nippy). It was hailing something awful last night but you wouldn't know it from today's sunshine. The hail was coming down so hard I was wondering if it was going to come through the skylight. I have pictures but it's just the pea sized stuff. Maybe I'll throw up a picture for the next posting.

Meanwhile, the ducklings are out! Yay!!! They are always so adorable. These two were following mom in drinking from the pond. I'm not sure what species they are since most of my books key off of Dad, not Mom and especially not the babies. Mom had a brown head with a white bar just up from the beak and a white bar between the head and the neck. Below the neck she looked kind of like a teal with a patch of purple feather on the wingtip (see picture above!). Suggestions are welcome.

I'm off to enjoy my Sunday! Have a good one.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Blue Morpho Butterly

Blue Morpho Butterfly, Morpho peliedes, perched on a leaf. It's tough getting shots with their wings open as they seem to largely keep them closed for camoflage when they perch.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Paphiopedilum haynaldianum var. album or A long time for seed

This is a photo of Paphiopedilum var. album 'Arnie'. Paphiopedilum is an Asiatic species of slipper orchids. In North America and Europe, we have Cyprepedium and in South America, Selenepedium and Phragmipedium. As noted by the name, this is an albino form of the normally stunningly colorful Paph. haynaldianum with its greens, vibrant magenta and chestnut browns. It normally hails from the Philippines. The seed on this takes around a year to mature and the alba varieties of this species self-pollinate.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Scrub Jay

It's Springtime, the flowers are blooming and the Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma coerulescens, is back (and with a girlfriend, I might add)! Scrub Jays are a member of the crow family and frequent brushy areas and chaparral, which I happen to have in my back yard. They are rumored to tame and get quite used to people although the pair in my back yard are pretty shy. This picture was taken with a 500mm lens.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


A Killdeer, Charadrius vociferus, stands guard near its nest. It occasionally would lift a wing as if it was broken in a disply meant to lure off predators. It is so named for its noisy nesting behavior (why would you want to make noise when you are nesting anyhow?). This picture was taken at Santa Rosa Ecological Preserve.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Poor Mr. Badger

Poor Mr. Badger looked so sad I decided to take his picture as kind of a badger memorial. Mr. Badger, you see, was part of a stuffed exhibit at the nature center at the Santa Rosa Ecological Preserve. I would guess he was donated or perhaps confiscated. Hard to say really. In any case, let this be his little badger memorial of happier times in the meadow at the ecological preserve.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Holy Coyote Batman!

Coyotes get around. However, by my house, they only seem to come out at dusk or at night. However, at the Santa Rosa Ecological Preserve, this large coyote was wandering around in daylight. Admittedly, it was around 5pm so perhaps he was just getting a head start. He was marking the territory and howling without so much as a flinch at the people staring at him.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Shooting Star

The alpine meadows at the Santa Rosa Ecological Preserve were full of Chocolate Lillies and Shooting Star, Dodecatheon clevelandi as well as a whole host of other wildflowers. It was quite a sight. There was also a lot of variation from plant to plant which was fun to speculate about.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher

Here is a Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher, Polioptila caerulea, tending her nest just outside the Anza Borrego Wildlife Preserve Guest Center. I saw her hopping around and followed her back to her nest for the photograph. I didn't see the babies pop up in spite of all the fussing she was doing around the nest. Perhaps she was still in construction? However, if they were in there, they're pretty well protected up there in that very spiny cactus.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Chinch Weed

Chinch Weed, Pectis papposa,blooming along the roadside near my office. It was growing in a carpet among the grasses, turning the hillside yellow.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Here's a close-up of the Lupine growing along Highway 805. They have a whole big patch of it growing making a very dramatic display.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Red Shouldered Hawk

I hauled the Nikon to work to get a picture of the lupine. While hiking down the hill, I saw this Red Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus, swooping down after some prey. They are fast and amazingly attractive with their patterned tails and red shouldered wings.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Spring Flowers Along Highway 805

Spring is really gorgeous in San Diego. Highway maintenance has planted all sorts of amazing flowers that just light up in Spring. There are huge swaths of California poppies and even bigger stretches of purple ice plant. This patch has a beautiful mix of Lupine and California Poppies. I used my little pocket camera but it's nice enough that I may need to haul the Nikon to work with me tomorrow (heavy bulky thing that it is...). Stay tuned.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Awash in Spring Color

The desert is alive in wildflowers right now. We've had an extremely wet Winter/Spring and everything is blooming. Wow. Miles of sand was just covered with purple, yellow and white flowers. It's a few weeks of glory and then it all disappears but what a sight! Shown here is Coyote Canyon near Anza Borrego. The flowers were growing all along the road and extended up to the hills. Coyote Canyon has one of the few springs that is active all year round and hosts a herd of Big Horn Sheep as well. In the foreground is Dune Evening Primrose, Oenothera deltoides and Sand Verbena, Abronia villosa (purple).

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Springtime in San Diego!

I just finished a major draft of my paper. I know, what a boring, dull way to spend a Saturday. Here's a picture of a flowering plum (I think...) that I caught with the sun highlighting the rain drops last weekend. Spring is here. The desert is in bloom as well. I may have to take a study break for a desert tiki-tour. Laters...

Wood Duck Stretching

Wood Duck, Aix sponsa, stretching his wings. Or, maybe he was thinking of flying away. Either way, it was a funky pose. They are beautiful though, aren't they?