Saturday, May 31, 2008

Curlew: Dino-mite!

This Curlew was stalking the shallows at the Mission River Preserve. Recently, the newspaper had an article about chickens (and indeed all birds) being descended from dinosaur stock. I thought about how patient, persistent and even ruthless they can be in pursuit of food. The determination of these tiny and beautiful creatures is quite admirable in a perverse sort of way. However, when I imagine what they would be like if they were every bit as ruthless but the size of an SUV, I have to admit that I'm quite relieved that dinosaurs are extinct.

Friday, May 30, 2008

San Diego Lights

Here's the San Diego skyline at night with the lights of the downtown skyscrapers reflecting off of San Diego Bay. A friend of ours had her wedding at a little park along the bay and this is the view that greeted us as we walked back to the car.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Stormy Weather

It truly looked ominous when we hiked mission trails park on Sunday. Those clouds were just aching to squeeze out some rain and soak a few wayward hikers. Still, there was nary a drop and, later in the day, the sun came out through the clouds and it was GLORIOUS!!! Heheh. Sorry you weren't there. It truly was pretty. I only regret that I missed that rosy boa the hiker before me claimed he saw (some doubt on my part...). He also saw a rattler. However, he was turning over logs which, with rattlers snoozing underneath, just seemed like a really bad idea.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Une Rose Savage

Une rose savage, French for a wild rose. They were blooming along the path at Mission Trails park. There is even one on the steep bank of the road cut on the way to my house. I don't know how they got there or if they were planted but they are fairly common and really quite charming this time of year.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Acmon Blue (Butterfly)

Here's a photo of a Acmon Blue Butterfly, Plebejus acmon, that we saw at Mission Trails Park over the weekend. He was the size of your thumb nail but oh so pretty. Just goes to show that beauty comes in small packages.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Prickly Situation

I found these prickly seed pods hanging along side the trail in Mission Trails Park. I think they come from the Dodder vine, a parasitic vine that is also called witch's hair but I'm not at all sure. Most plant books key on flowers, not by seed pods so after searching for a bit, I figured I'd toss it out there and see if the audience might be able to figure it out.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Carpe Diem or Koi du Jour

Nothing quite so brilliant as a koi in full sun in an outdoor garden. This koi was passing by, idly looking for food as Koi do. It highlights some of that wonderful San Diego weather as well.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cloud Forest Orchids

Orchids come from nearly every climate. This one, Masdevallia coccinea var aurea, comes from Andean cloud forests and really puts on a wonderful display when in bloom. I don't grow them personally although I've wanted to, since the summers in San Diego get a bit too hot for them.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Nodding Gull

Ever wonder why animals sometimes turn their head sideways when they look at you? Maybe this gull thought I would look more like a clam if he turned his head sideways? Or maybe he was trying to hear better? Sounds like a science experiment is called for!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Birthday Teapot

Here's a picture of my birthday teapot at a show in Balboa Park. No, it's not my birthday. We were just displaying it at a pottery show.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

bugs and such

The photo wouldn't upload today. I'm guessing that the photo server is down for a moment. Meanwhile, I spent the day potting baby orchids out of flask. Most have been in way too long and looked none too happy. I was also moving furniture around to get windows put in tomorrow. Overall, a pretty productive day. Hot though. Whew...

Avoiding the Heat

The weather's turning hot. It was over 100F in some areas today. Many people head to the ocean to bask in the cool ocean breeze rather than suffer in the heat or suffer the electric bill. This fisherman was enjoying the breezes at San Diego Bay. I ended up at the movie theater, partly for the air conditioning, and when things cooled off a tad, fixed the sprinkler manifold. I called a sprinker company a few weeks ago and they wanted $75 just to look at it. Highway robbery for something I could have easily described over the phone. So, I ran over to Home Depot with the old manifold in hand and spent the afternoon with glue and pipe cutters in hand. If all goes well, the sprinkler system will be working again tomorrow. Over all, a reasonably productive day.

Friday, May 16, 2008

House Finch

I'm not entirely sure but I think this is a male House Finch, Carpodacus mexicanus. A pair of them were grazing on seeds along the river.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Unflattering Moments

I call this one unflattering moments... Face stuck in a cup, dog doing his duty, what's a guy to do? Hope he brought a pooper bag...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ducks Ducked Out

I went down to the Mission River Preserve to visit the ducks over the weekend. However, the ducks had all ducked out. They had migrated back up North to take advantage of the Spring bounty. Of course, they'll be back next winter. In the meantime, here's a picture of a Great Egret, Ardea alba, that was out enjoying his new found peace and quiet.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Granite Spiny Lizard

We saw this lizard sunning on a rock at the Santa Rosa Ecological Preserve. It looks like a spiny iguana! However, it is really a Granite Spiny Lizard, Sceloporus orcutti, a relative to the little black fence post lizards that are so common. You wouldn't know it though. This guy was about a foot long and much showier than those little fence post lizards. Maybe just a bigger flashier cousin?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Will the Real Alligator Please Stand Up?

I saw an alligator lizard when I was in college. One of the girls caught it as a pet and we used to bring her bugs for it. She had named it "Baron." In any case, I'd remembered this beautiful lizard (albeit memory can be cloudy) and wanted to see another since. Thus, a while back I posted a fence post lizard, albeit a quite attractive fence post lizard, under the guise of an alligator lizard. I'm putting up this little guy as attonement (grin). Clearly, I need to get myself a reptiles of So. Cal. book. As I still have no herp book (seems like I have a little library going), I looked this guy up on (awesome site) and, yes, this is the real alligator lizard. Actually, it is one of several species called "alligator lizard." This one is Elgaria webii, also known as the San Diego Alligator Lizard (go figure). If you want to bone up on alligator lizards, click here. I found him languishing on the bottom of my green waste recycle bin. I can only figure that the sneaky thing got caught up in some greenery and spent the week in the bottom the bin. I let him(?) loose in the front yard and I still see him occasionally scurry back and forth across the front patio. As for that lizard from college, our web site says it was the very attractive Elgaria multicarinata.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Finals are Over!!!

Finals are over!!! Yay! In celebration, I'm spending a little time in front of the computer doing video games (oh whatever is this world coming to anyhow???)! Meanwhile, here's a picture of one of my little flock of hummingbirds. Some evenings there are 6 or 7 at a time! They are the only bird I know that can actually duck a flash. I don't know how they do it but they can do amazing acrobatics to avoid a flash. This one stayed put and is here in brilliant color. Have a great weekend! I've got some gaming to do!

Thursday, May 08, 2008


My last final of the Semester is tonight. Wish me luck. This picture is of a succulent blooming in the back yard. A quick Google search did not uncover the name so, if you know, tell me. Otherwise, I'll take a look next time I'm at the botanical gardens.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder

I like to think that beauty surrounds us if we but look. Here is a picture of a small, wispy dandelion blooming defiantly out of the granite rocks in which it tenaciously clings. A weed? A flower? Something to admire or something to yank? Inspirational or just a little loopy? Isn't there just a little bit of defiant dandelion in all of us? You tell me?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Double-Crested Cormorant

This Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus, was diving for fish in San Diego Harbor yesterday. Whenever I tried to take a picture it would dive down under the water and pop up a little further down the bay. I still managed to snap a few pictures, if only at a distance.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Crow or Raven?

There are two large black birds living in the canyon in back of my house. They occasionally swoop by the eaves looking for nesting pigeons. Sometimes I see them chasing the hawks and sometimes vice versa. They keep the house pigeon free like no human contraption ever did. I looked them up on the Internet and they appear to be Ravens, possibly Corvus corax. The give away is that sturdy hooked beak and the triangular point to the tail fan when they fly (as shown here). They claim that Ravens are more likely to frequent woods and open areas but these appear plenty happy in our little suburban canyon.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Eurasian Bearded Vulture

A Eurasian Bearded Vulture, Gypaetus barbatus barbatus, out enjoying the sunny weather we've been having. This one is at the San Diego Zoo, one of the largest zoos in the world. I used a telephoto and managed to focus between the grates in the cage to get this shot. I'm wondering if the ornithologist that named him had a sense of humor since his name rhymes. It's pronounced (if I recall my Latin pronunciations more or less) Jip-Ate-us bar-bate-us bar-bate-us. It's got a nice ring to it! The name (barbatus) refers to the long black chin bristles (looks like a goatee). This amazing scavenger lives on the bones of wild sheep left by predators. They actually digest not just the marrow but the bones as well. How's that for stomach acid? Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Epiphyllums Are Blooming

Being a bit of a plant lover, I have all kinds of things growing around the house including Epiphyllums, also called jungle cactus. These flat leaved, somewhat floppy looking plants have the most amazing flowers. This one just glows in the sun in an almost flourescent way that is difficult to capture on a photograph. The flowers don't last long. They only bloom once a year...but when they bloom, wow. There are also yellows, whites, ochres and oranges that have been blooming this year.