Sunday, February 28, 2010

Protea Biology

Red Protea Hybrid, Leucospermum. A photo in indoor lighting of the latest addition to my back yard menagerie. Leucospermum flowers appear to actually be an aggregation of a cluster of tiny flowers.

The hairs probably have something to do with pollinator specificity. It appears that, when in active bloom, Leucospermum are pollinated by birds, sugarbirds and sunbirds who perch on the flower heads or the stems and probe into the flower head in search of nectar. However, the Leucospermum seeds have an elaiosome that attracts ants who carry the seeds away to their nests to consume the elaiosome while dispersing the seeds which eventually grow, particularly after fires. Thus, the hairs may keep the ants out while the plants are in active bloom but the elaiosome serves as an ant attractant to the withered flowers with mature seed.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

On Barbed Wire

Common House Finches on Barbed Wire, Tijuana Slough Estuary Park. Clearly, the finches didn't mind the barbed wire. In fact, it's probably easier than some of those tree branches they squeeze into.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Split Rock

Pleiospilos nelii, Split Rock Plant. These hardly little clumping plants look just like stones until they bloom in glorious yellows and oranges. They are about two inches across and are native to South Africa. They prefer a dry spell during their Winter dormancy although this one is doing just fine on my back deck. They are hardy down to about 23F.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Honolulu from Ala Moana Beach Park. Sometimes you get the lighting just right. In this case, the setting sun had gone below the storm clouds, lighting up the beach and city in radiant light against the stormy backdrop.

The darker colored water is the reef that keeps the waves out of Ala Moana Beach, making it one of the favorite places for locals to swim. The turqoise blue water is the channel where there typically is a turtle or two swimming by. Those buildings are largely new, having been built in the last 10-20 years.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Coaching Crew

Coach and Crew Team, Fiesta Island. Notably the coach gets a motorboat! The crew team was out practicing and wasn't letting a little drizzle get in the way.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Electric Blue Peacock Cichlid

Electric Blue Peacock Cichlid, Sciaenochromis fryeri, Pet Kingdom. A really cool African cichlid from Pet Kingdom. The African cichlids come largely from Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika and are some of the most brightly colored cichlids in the world (and unfortunately largely pretty aggressive).

Some Lake Tanganyika facts from our friends at Wikipedia: Lake Tanganyika is the second or third largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, and the second deepest, after Lake Baikal in Siberia, being divided between Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Tanzania and Zambia. Click on the link to find out more!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Getting Cold Feet

Getting Cold Feet. Hoho, I wasn't putting my feet in there in the middle of Winter.

Getting Wet

Waterskiing, Fiesta Island, San Diego, California. A little drizzle didn't keep this waterskiing enthusiast at home. Why not anyhow, water is water right?

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Playing catch at Fiesta Island dog park. It's been raining on and off today but not enough to stop us from getting a little exercise at the Fiesta Island Dog Park.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Handstands in the Sand

Handstand in the sand, Dog Beach. Wow. Real cool. I was feeling inspired so I looked up how to do a handstand. The wiki page makes it sound real easy although I'm not totally convinced. Here's what they said.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Kapok Tree

Kapok Tree, Ceiba Pentandra, Foster Botanical Gardens, Honolulu, Hawaii. These trees date back to the times of the Hawaiian Royalty (1800s) and are totally huge, reminding me of giant columns or perhaps of the California redwoods.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Beaches Are Empty and Calling Just for You

Magic Island Beach Park, Honolulu, Hawaii. Hawaii has been hit pretty hard by the recession and tourism is way down. Bad news for Hawaii but perhaps good news for you if you're looking for empty beaches and merchants that will bend over backwards for your business! Don't forget to check out my Hawaii page:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pelican Diving for Food

California Brown Pelican diving for fish in the Mission River, San Diego, California. Most pelicans dive from perhaps 50 feet up, diving at a near vertical incline into the ocean to catch fish. A few California Brown Pelicans have adapted to diving in much shallower rivers. They cruise over the water at about 4-5 feet scanning for fish and, upon spotting one, swoop headfirst into the water after them.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Leopard on the Loose

Leopard Gecko, Eublepharis macularius, Reptile World. Leopard Geckos are native to North India, the deserts of Pakistan, Vietnam, parts of Iran and Afghanistan where they may be nocturnal. They apparently make good pets, living on a diet of crickets, meal worms and even baby mice and are one of the most common pets in the reptile industry. Their scientific/latin name Eublepharis means true (eu) eyelids (blephar), distinguishing this subfamily of geckos from other geckos.

This particular gecko was tracking my finger avidly back and forth as I wagged it across the glass. He did this until the pet shop lady fed him a tiny mouse after which, on a full stomach, he lost all interest in my finger (perhaps thankfully).

Monday, February 15, 2010

What Did You Do for Valentines Day?

Bearded Dragons, Pogona vitticeps, Reptile World. This little bearded dragon is getting a massage from his/her buddy. What did you do on Valentine's day?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Herding Fish

Common Merganser, Mergus merganser, Mission River. There was a group of three Common Mergansers herding small schools of fish through the shallows. From a distance, it looked like three huge fish chasing a school of smaller fish until, at some point, they popped up their heads and it became clear that there were birds underneath those wakes in the water. There was also a small egret flying up in front of the Mergansers, trying to snag a free meal, complements of the merganser's herding efforts. Fascinating.

Happy Year of the Tiger

Tiger Cub out playing. Yes, that was still a cub. Mom was having nothing to do with it but the two cubs (only one shown) were having a ball! Happy New Year and Happy Year of the Tiger! Goong Hee Fat Choy; Gung Hay Fa Tsai.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Valentine's day rose (long stemmed at that!). Happy Valentine's Day to all of you. Hope you're spending the day with someone special.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fancy Hat?

Rooster up close and personal. Ever wonder what the bright red wattle around a rooster's head is for? A roosterdesiac perhaps?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Odd Orchids

Bulbophyllum species blooming at Kawamoto Orchids, Honolulu, Hawaii. Many Bulbophyllums are pollinated by flies and, as opposed to their sweeter smelling cousins the Cattleyas, can therefore be a teensy bit pungent. The lip (seen in the front of the flower) is, in many species, mobile and moves up and down with the wind or any movement.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Star Power

Starfruit, Averrhoa carambola, Waikiki Shopping Plaza Farmer's Market. Starfruit trees are natives of Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka and have firm, slightly tart to lightly sweet fruit that, when cut, forms star-shaped slices. They are occasionally grown in Hawaii and typically show up in farmer's markets and roadside stands but seldom in the grocery store.

Monday, February 08, 2010

University of San Diego

University of San Diego, San Diego, California. This picture of the University (at the top of the hill) was taken from Mission Bay looking back at the city.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Lesser Goldfinch

Lesser Goldfinch, Carduelis psaltria, hanging out on the fig tree in the back yard after a recent rain. I suspect this one is a larger male. I've been filling the finch feeder again, this time, with a mix of finch food and Nyjer.

Saturday, February 06, 2010


Dudleya brittonii, Mission Trails Park, California. These very attractive, Echevaria-like succulents are fairly common in California. They tend to grow on vertical rock faces and on steep hillsides near areas where water seeps. Considering the arid Southern California landscape, plants here sometimes develop fairly extraordinary abilities to collect water.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Green Winged Teal

Green Winged Teal, Anas crecca, Mission River Preserve, San Diego, California. Attractive little ducks with a green eye band! These were mostly in pairs or small groups sunning on the shore.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

C-17 Globemaster III, Titan of the Air

Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, Mission Beach, San Diego, California. I saw this C-17 lumbering over mission beach a few weeks back. The sheer size and power of these planes is amazing. Two of those engines are enough to fly a Boeing 757. Each of these lumbering beauties costs over a quarter of a BILLION dollars and has a payload of somewhere around 170,900 lb. Wow.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Threadfin Butterfly Fish

Threadfin Butterfly Fish, Waikiki, Hawaii. Beautiful little fish that live on small crustaceans and other critters. They use that little snout to get their food out of crevices in the coral. Often seen in pairs.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Coming In After a Long Day Surfing...

Coming in after a long day surfing, Waikiki Beach, Oahu, Hawaii. The sun was setting leaving long shadows on the water.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Graffiti Tree

Graffiti Tree, Waikiki Shopping Plaza, Honolulu, Hawaii. Old, old banyan with generations of graffiti from tourists around the world. It may not look all that attractive but this tree is probably over 60 years old and probably pre-dates the shopping plaza itself. Some of those love notes have been on there for a long, long time. It's kind of romantic in a odd sort of way. So, Danny and Kara, Noelle and Luke, Mike and Sally: we hope you're still out there and still happily and passionately together.