Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Check Out Those Chickens!

A pair of Belgian Bearded d' Uccle Feather Legged Bantams munching on tomato seeds on a doorstep in Julian, California.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pacific South American Orchid Society Judging Award Winners

There were three awards granted at the American Orchid Society Judging in Long Beach, California on November 28, 2011, including one FCC to Fred Clarke! The flowers are shown below. The pictures were taken by your very own wayward Hawaiian.

Cycnodes Spotted Hornet 'Sunset Valley Orchids' FCC/AOS

Laelia anceps variety veitchiana 'Blue Angel' AM/AOS

Cattleya (Sophronitis) coccinea variety aurea 'Yellow Diamonds' AM/AOS

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tis the Season for...Pie!

The weather warmed up again. Today it was in the low eighties, albeit with a chilly breeze. Warm enough, however, to head to Julian for some apple pie at the Julian Pie Company. Yummm.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Canada Goose in Southern California

Canada Goose, Branta canadensis, wintering at Lake Cuyamaca, California. I've never seen them at sea level this far South. However, there's a small flock that apparently Winters up around 4,000 ft. at Lake Cuyamaca.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Least Tern Working for a Living

Least Tern, Sterna antillarum, in Winter colors, as it emerges from a dive into the water after small fish in the Mission River Preserve.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey On the Go

Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo variety intermieda (Rio Grande Subspecies), Julian, California. It's Thanksgiving! Needless to say, this turkey was in a bit of a hurry to get away.

Wishing you and your loved ones all a wonderful Thanksgiving, regardless of what graces your table tonight.

Great Blue Heron Having a Bad Hair Day

Great Blue Heron hanging out on a buoy on a windy day in the Mission Bay Harbor. Bad hair day? ...or perhaps a bad feather day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fin Whale Washes Up on the Rocks of Point Loma

A 65 ft. Female Fin Whale, on the beach at Fiesta Island, San Diego, California. This female fin whale washed up on the rocks of Point Loma, just below the waste treatment plant roughly five days ago. A life guard boat was used to drag it to Fiesta Island, shown above, where it would be dissected to determine its cause of death. A young fetus was also present, ejected as the whale began to decay, at the point loma site; however, it was apparently lost in the process of towing the mother to Fiesta Island.

A large grading tractor was used to attempt to pull it up the beach and out of the water. However, after a large strap and two large chains snapped in a most spectacular fashion in the attempt, it was decided to process the whale where it lay. As the scientists started to cut open the whale, the smell, as you would expect, became rather extreme and this photographer left, generally relieved to not be living down-wind of the carcass. However, a small crowd of onlookers remained to watch the process. Apparently, samples are being brought to the Scripps Institute for further research.

Post script: The scientists reported today (11/24) that the cause of death appeared to be a collision with a boat that fractured several of her vertebrae. As fast as these mammals are, you would think that would never happen, but perhaps curiosity lured her in a little to close...

Osprey, No Not the Bird, the Tilt Rotor!

Osprey flying outside of Point Loma. I've wanted to take a picture of one of these ever since I saw them in Halo (good job military PR). Really cool if a bit expensive... For those of you not familiar with tilt rotors, these little beauties take off like a helicopter and then tilt the rotors down into a lateral alignment to fly like an airplane, allowing them to land and take off in tight spots but extends their range and flight speed.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Orange Aggregating Anemone

An orange aggregating anemone species in shallow water at Cabrillo National Monument. Anemones are animals and can even travel like snails do, when they are dissatisfied with conditions at their current location. However, as with corals, many anemones are capable of multiplying both sexually, by ejecting sperm and eggs into the water, and asexually, by budding (similar to how a plant would generate new sprouts at its base). If you look closely, you will notice smaller anemones budding at the base of the larger parent anemone.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

American Kestrel at Cabrillo National Monument

American Kestrel, Falco sparverius, Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego, California. I drove out to Cabrillo National Monument to see a Fin whale that washed up into a cove just outside the Point Loma Waste Treatment plant. It turns out, however, that the waste treatment plant wasn't having anything to do with lookie-loos and crazy photographers. In fact, they didn't even let their own security guard go down to the cove to see the whale. However, since I was at Cabrillo, I paid the entry fee and made a day of exploring Cabrillo National Park. I started off photographing the tide pools followed by taking pictures of the bird colonies on the cliffs and then by photographing the succulent species growing in the coastal scrub...which is what I was doing when this little guy popped up. He was flying into the stiff, cool breeze, flapping just hard enough to hover over the coastal scrub, looking for lizards, bugs and small animals. Every now and then he would dive down at some prey and then bob right back up into the sky. He (you can ID male American Kestrels by the grey on the top of the wings -- not shown in this photo) continued to hover and swoop for over 15 minutes, providing for some excellent shots including the one above.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron

Juvenile Black-Crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycotidor. This little heron was perched on the railing of a nearby boat. As I stepped carefully, one foot after the other, closer to get a more detailed photo, he ever so slowly turned away from me to face his body away from me (to allow him to launch into the air towards a nearby tree), his head and eyes remaining ever vigilant on my progress, while his legs stepped slowly, one after the other, along the railing. Still, he remaied on that railing, having been there early in the morning when we arrived for the whale watching trip and remaining there when we returned, several hours later.

At first, I thought this was a green heron or else perhaps some other heron that I had not seen before, his color being so different from the adult black and white plummage of a Black-Crowned Night Heron, and his presence in broad daylight outside of the cover of a tree being somewhat uncharacteristic of the Black-Crowned Night Herons which frequent Mission Bay. Luckily, however, the National Geographic Field guide I was perusing included pictures of juvenile birds. Hence, the hopefully correct ID above.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fin Whales

We went out whale watching off Point Loma and Mission Bay. Sometimes you'll go whale watching and seeing very little and at a great distance. However, today there were fin whales everywhere! See for yourself!

Fin Whale blow hole

Another fin whale showing the characteristic tiny fin just in front of their tail.

Fin whale leaning over to take a peak at us.

Fin whale swimming directly towards the boat.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Marbled Godwit

Marbled Godwit, Limosa fedoa, feeding in the sand; Imperial Beach, California. How do they find anything under all that sand? I've been told they have tiny hairs along their beak that sense or perhaps smell the small worms and crustaceans they feed on.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Seagull Gets the Last Laugh

Gull hanging out on a netted roof what was specifically netted to keep the gulls off of the roof of the bathroom on the Imperial Beach pier. Score: gulls 1: Humans 0.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Winter Guests

Dunlin, Calidris alpina; Winter plummage. These birds nest in the Summer up on the Alaskan Tundra and Winter along the Pacific coast of North America where they are found in mudflats, pond edges, marshes and along the ocean.

Lava images

Lava images. Tell us, what do you see? As the molten lava cools, it twists and turns into all sorts of fantastic shapes and forms. I snapped pictures of some of the more suggestive ones.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing. These migrate through San Diego on their way South. As a pleasant surprise, I found a whole flock of them in the eucalyptus tree this morning!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Green Crested Lizard

Bronchocela christatella or Green Crested Lizard. A very happy and well fed lizard posing for the camera! These beautiful agamid lizards are natives of West Malaysia, Borneo, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Southern Thailand, South Myanmar, and the Nicobar Islands. They live up in trees and shrubs where, using their long, slender tail for balancing, they hunt for small invertebrates.

Side note: there are approximately 300 species of Agamid lizards in the family Agamidae. They are also commonly called "dragon lizards," including the bearded dragon and the uromastyx among their ranks. Agramids are distinguished by their teeth, which are borne on the outer rim of the mouth (look close!), rather than on the inner side of the jaws as with most other lizards.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Balboa Park Arboretum Reflecting Pool

Balboa Park Arboretum by night.

Gemmed Orbweaver

"Araneus gemma, Family Araneidae. Sometimes it's called a Gemmed Orbweaver. These are pretty common at this time of year and usually make their webs up in trees or around buildings where they can be a pest depending on where they build webs. As almost all spiders they have venom and these are large enough to bite if handled. The bite would be a bit painful but certainly not life threatening. This is the time of year that they mature, mate, lay eggs, and die out. They are usually gone by the end of November." Identification and information complements of Jim Berrian at the San Diego Natural History Museum!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Rattle-free Rattlesnake?

Santa Catalina Island Rattlesnake, Crotalus catalinensis. The Santa Catalina Island Rattlesnake has evolved without rattles, possibly due to the lack of predators on Santa Catalina island or perhaps due to a random genetic mutation which, without survival need, became dominant.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Double Primrose After the Rain

Double Primrose after the recent rains. San Diego has been unnaturally wet and rainy this past year and it looks like, in spite of a second year of La Nina warnings by the weather persons, we are headed into another wet Winter.

Double-Flowered Rhynchostylis Retusa

Double-flowered Rhychostylis retusa. This Rhynchostylis retusa has a fused stem/ovary between two adjacent flowers.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Casa Del Prado by Night

Casa Del Prado, Balboa Park, California. The lights of Casa Del Prado reflecting into the tranquil, dark, nighttime waters of the Balboa Arboretum pool.