Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Coronado Islands from William Heise Park Near Julian

The Coronado Islands viewed from William Heise Park Near Julian. From left to right, you can see the South Island, both Middle Islands and the North Island. It's pretty amazing what you can see on a clear day! This shot was taken from one of the scenic overlooks on the desert view trail in William Heise Park.

The Coronado islands include four islands off the Northwest coast Baja, Mexico. These islands are now a Mexican wildlife preserve although they have been used by American bootleggers in the past and are reputedly still used for human smuggling when bad weather threatens. The Coronado Islands derive their name from Los Cuatro Coronado, the four crowns, a name coined by a priest for SebastiƔn Vizcaƭno to honour four martyrs.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

New Bird: Black-Chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird, Archilochus alexandri, William Heise County Park, Santa Ysabel, California. It's always fun to see a new bird. This little hummer was perched high up on a dead tree (a victim of the Cedar Creek fire). You can ID him by his conspicuous white collar. While the lower part of the collar is vivid purple in the right light, this little guy would simply not look directly into the sun for me! These little birds are found in the Western U.S. and Northern Mexico in semi-arid river groves, canyons and chaparral (which accurately describes the oak scrub/chapparal this little guy was perched in).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Anna's Hummingbird on Barbed Wire

Anna's Hummingbird on barbed wire! Nothing stops these fierce little birds. This one was keeping a keen eye on the camera and threatening to fly off.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Backyard Birder: What's in Your Backyard?

Bushtit -- Coastal Form, Psaltriparus minimus. I wandered down into the canyon in back of the house the other day to snap some bird pictures and take a look at what was living there. There was a flock of bushtits that appeared to be sipping nectar from the profusely blooming bushes. While it is only January, the Winter rains have resulted in all sorts of flowers, sprouts and a profusion of Toyon Berries that are attracting seasonal bird visitors.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Reflecting Pool at the Joan Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice

Reflecting Pool at the Joan Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, University of San Diego, San Diego, California.

Silvered Leaf Monkeys in a Huddle

Silvered Leaf Monkeys, Trachypitheces cristatus, huddling for warmth at the San Diego Zoo.

White Cheeked Pintail Duck

White Cheeked Pintail Duck, Anas bahamensis. These cheeky little ducks are native to South America and the Galapagos. The South American population of these ducks migrates South to Argentina to breed each Spring.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Komodo Dragon

Komodo dragon, Varanus komodoensis. These large lizards are reputedly one of the last living representatives of large varanid lizards that once lived across Australia and Indonesia. In nature, they opportunistically prey upon/ambush goats, deer and even water buffalo while relying on a diet of mostly carrion. Their bite contains fairly toxic bacteria that will may eventually result in the death of their prey, even where the bite itself may have been relatively minor.


Sanderling, Calidris alba, Tijuana Estuary Reserve, California. These little guys have a circumpolar distribution and Winter all the way down to the Southern Hemisphere. This one is Wintering in lovely San Diego.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Prarie Falcon

Prarie Falcon, Falco mexicanus, Mission Trails Park, San Diego (Santee), California. These little birds frequent grasslands, hills and praries and are found from Southwestern Canada to Southern Mexico.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Lion Tailed Macaque Behind Bars

The Lion-Tailed Macaque, Macaca silenus, is a native of South India. Although this Lion-Tailed Macaque has a huge enclosure and lots of Macaque friends, I couldn't help but think he looked a little sad.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sighting: Common Yellowthroat (or Holy Warblers Batman!)

Male Common Yellowthroat, Geothlypis trichas, Mission Trails Park, San Diego, California. This is a first time sighting for me although, given that this bird lives in swamps, marshes and wet thickets which are not widespread in dry coastal Southern California and given that the female is less descript (no batman mask), that is not altogether surprising. This bird Summers throughout the Western United States and Winters in Mexico. Coastal (Central to Southern) California, however, is one of the few areas that maintains a year round presence. This particular bird was not particularly shy, appearing to have a nest in the dense grass; however, taking a picture of him without my trusty 500mm lens proved challenging due to the low light and myriad branches and grass, all eagerly becoming targets for the camera's autofocus.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Rare Sighting of Mountain Bluebird in San Diego

Mountain Bluebird,Sialia currucoides, eating Toyon Berries. I've seen Mountain Bluebirds up in Julian before; however, it's pretty rare to see them in San Diego (here, in Mission Trails park eating Toyon Berries). I'm thinking the plentiful crop of Toyon Berries was too much to resist!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Western Snowy Plover

Western Snowy Plover, Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus. It's Winter. The beach is cool, windswept and foggy and the birds have the beach all to themselves.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Casa Del Prado by Night

Casa Del Prado by Night, Balboa Park, San Diego, California. The Prado is so alive with lights and reflections by night! A picture taker's paradise.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Saddleback Butterflyfish

Chaetodon ephippium, Saddleback Butterflyfish, at Waio'Opae Marine Preserve, Hawaii. It's always pretty exciting to see one of these beauties! They're large, colorful, a teensie bit skittish and rather rare in Hawaii.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Lava Eel

Lava Eel at Mele Kohola on the Big Island. Doesn't it look like a prehistoric or perhaps a deep water eel (like mega-mouth), washed up on the rocks, being eaten by crabs? On the other hand, it kind of reminds me of those big sand worms in Dune... I suspect that the red coloration results from a high iron content in that segment of lava.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Marbled Blenny and Helmet Urchins

Entomacrodus marmoratus or the Marbled Blenny, with Shingle or Helmet urchins (Ha'Uke'Uke), Magic Island, Hawaii. These amazing little Hawaiian blennies come up out of the water as the waves wash over shoreline rocks. They sit on these rocks where they graze on algae, ever keeping a watchful eye for threats such as stray humans or the occasional bird or crab. Their eyesight appears to be quite good, even out of water. When threatened,do a quick snap of their tail, possibly with a bit of a wiggle to get to the edge of the rock, to escape back into the ocean.

The local fishermen will sometimes catch these little blennies to use as live bait for larger fish such as Ulua (Jacks) and Baracuda.

Also shown are a group of Shingle or Helmet urchins, Colobocentrotus atratus. These are called Ha 'uke 'uke in Hawaiian and, while edible,are not commercially harvested. They are usually found out of water in the splash zone clinging to large rocks.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

January San Diego American Orchid Society Regional Judging Awards

(Cyc warscewiczii X Morm andicola) 'Priscilla's Pink Lady' HCC/AOS 78pts

Cymbidium Byaka Pendant 'Ernie' HCC/AOS 78pts

Cyrtochilum trilingue CHM/AOS

Dendrobium tetragonum var carcatua 'Windflower II' HCC/AOS 78pts

Masdevallia ivanii 'Windflower' CBR/AOS

Mormodes elegans 'Sunset Valley Orchids II' AM/AOS 80pts

Mormodes vinacea 'Sunset Valley Orchids' CBR/AOS

Mormodes warscewiczii 'Brent Baker' HCC/AOS 77pts

Mormodes warscewiczii 'Sunset Valley Orchids' HCC/AOS 78pts

Mormodia Leopard Drops 'Sunset Valley Orchids' AM/AOS 85 pts

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

New Bird: Horned Lark!

Horned Lark, Eremophila alpestris, Fiesta Island, San Diego, California. Three of these adorable little birds were foraging for bugs in the sand between the cars at the dog park. This was another first sighting for me!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Add a New Bird to My List: Gadwall Ducks

Gadwall duck pair, Anas strepera, at the Old Mission Dam, San Diego, CA. Always a nice surprise to see a brand new bird in an old, familiar spot. These ducks breed in Northern N. America and spend their Winters South through Mexico, Africa and India! These are lake and pond ducks. While I've seen Mallards and Coots at this particular pond, these are the first Gadwall Ducks.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Giant Dome off of Waikiki: Sea-based X-Band Radar

Sea-based X-Band Radar off of Waikiki Beach. Wow, this radar dome is absolutely huge! It's based on a Norweigian/Russian-built, double-hulled, mobile oil platform that cost over $900M to build. It provides radar tracking for advanced missile defense. It's a pretty amazing sight to see.