Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mallard on Rock

Mallard on rock, Chinese Garden, Huntington Botanical Gardens.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cherry Blossoms in January!

The Cherry Blossoms were the earliest blossoms in the Japanese Garden at the Huntington Gardens. When the wind blew, the petals fluttered down like raindrops.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Porcelein Wall Sculpture

Sway 2012 by Calvin Ma at the City of Brea Gallery Opening last Saturday. Incredibly detailed down to the minutest lines on each shingle and faces in the ears. All that and eerily dark. The dual shadows are a nice finishing touch. What does it mean?

Swish with Pizzaz

A Veiltail Koi gracefully arching through the water at the Huntington Lily pond.

Lipstick Miscue

Koi with a lipstick-like marking. I did a double take when I saw this koi going by, thinking it reminded me of a bad lipstick day for a gal rushing out of the house. What's a koi to do anyhow?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Allen's Hummingbird

Allen's Hummingbird, Selasphorus sasin, San Marino, California, hopping off of a perch on a large Aloe species. This cute little hummingbird is quite a singer. However, it is known for its deep-swooping courtship ritual that the males do in mid-air, creating a "verrrrip" sound as the air moves through their feathers at high speeds. It can be identified, relative to the similar tawny orange colored rufous hummingbird, by the irridescent green patch of feathers on its upper back.

Foggy, Rainy Weather in Southern California

Interstate 5 traffic during a foggy, rainy night. The cold front left; however, after a small spat of warm weather it's beeen replaced with wet, foggy weather.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Picking the View Side of the Plane to Oahu

Aerial shot Maui (foreground) and Hawaii (background) on a cloudy day. When flying to Hawaii, the direction of approach will vary somewhat depending on the direction of the wind and where you are coming from. However, most of the time, whether coming into Hawaii from Northern or Southern California, the planes will fly in toward Oahu from the Southeast. Thus, the left side of the plane will view Maui and the island of Hawaii first and then fly over the low planes and hills of Molokai before approaching Oahu over Pearl Harbor and landing on the reef runway. Depending on the winds, sometimes the plane will loop out over the ocean and fly over Hanauma bay, Koko Head and Waikiki approaching in the opposite direction. However, the majority of the time, when flying to Oahu, the left side windows are your best bet. When leaving, chose the opposite. Nothing, of course, is guaranteed.

Why is a Killdeer So-Named?

Killdeer, Charadrius vociferus, giving me a cautious look as it keeps its space from the goofy photographer with the big lens! Mission River Preserve, San Diego, California. Killdeers are not named because they murder bambi in cold blood; they are named after the sound of their piercing call. This is a somewhat common way to name birds, particularly for many shorebirds, such as the Kerwit, Curlew, and Godwit.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Passing American Wigeon

American Wigeon, Anas americana, in flight. Sadly, it was flying away rather than posing for pictures but it's still a decent shot. Ducks are tough to ID from the underbelly but luckily the ID book has undershots and, given the number of wigeons in the park at the time, it seems like a good guess.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Hare Brained Idea?

The Black-tailed Jack Rabbit, Lepus californicus, is a true Hare, bearing it's young fully formed, with eyes wide open, and without a nest. Cottontails, on the otherhand, build nests for their young, who are born with their eyes shut. The Black-tailed Jack Rabbit is typically a low-land rabbit, favoring flat open areas and valleys. These rabbits bear several litters per year with up to 8 kits (baby rabbits) per litter.
These two rabbits appeared to be a pair, one keeping watch while the other attempted to hide under a bush. Rabbits are preyed upon by all sorts of predators including coyotes, owls and hawks. They typically rely on their speed (they can outrun a dog), thick brush and the pervasive cholla cactus as cover to escape from predators.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Impeccable Curlew

Long-Billed Curlew, Numenius americanus, hunting for worms and small crustaceans in the tidals flats along the Tijuana Estuary. They theoretically sense the small creatures under the mud via tiny, sensitive bristles at the tips of their beaks, pulling them up out of the mud for a quick feast.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Renanthera Kalsom 'Red Dragon'

Renanthera Kalsom 'Red Dragon'. These grow into nice bushy plants about 3-5 ft tall and put forth bushels of flowers in you have the sun, humidity and space for them. The latest generation of Renanthera hybrids are a little bushier and shorter than the old Queen Emma types that would grow 30 ft. up a tree like a vine. Admittedly, those old hybrids were amazingly beautiful but a little tough to appreciate when they are blooming 20 ft. up in the air. Oh, and in case you were wondering, I did indeed get one of these although San Diego is not ideal habitat, given our low humidity and cooler Winters.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Where Do Bananas Come From?

Banana Tree, He'eia State Park, Hawaii. Just in case you wondered where those bananas in the store come from, shown above: bananas ripening on the 'tree'. Bananas are actually herbaceous (closer to grasses than to trees) even though they are called Banana trees. If you cut across a banana trunk, you'll find annular rings of soft, porous, sap-filled, grass-like layers similar to cutting across a large stalk of grass. These are apple bananas, named aptly for their slightly tart granny smith-like taste and firm texture.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail View

Makapu'u looking back towards Hawaii Kai, Koko Head Crater and Hanauma Bay, Oahu, from the cliffs along the Makapu'u lighthouse trail.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hoya deykeae

Hoya deykeae blooming at Kawamoto Orchids. A real favorite with the honey bees! I dare say I have a new found appreciation for the beauty of Hoyas!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Thank you in Hawaiian

Thank you = Mahalo (Pronounced Mah Hah Low)
Thank you very much = Mahalo Nui Loa (pronounced Mah Hah Low Noo Ee Low Ah)
You're welcome (closer to "no problem") = ‘A‘ole pilikia* (Pronounced Ah Oh Lee Pee Lee Kee Ah)
* Note that Pilikia means troubles
Alternately, "He mea iki" - (it's a small thing)

Hoya tsangii

Hoya tsangii, blooming outside of Kawamoto's Orchid Nursery in Honolulu, Hawaii. I was fascinated by the cute little furry umbels on this plant, each flower with a glistening drop of nectar. In was highlighted by the rays of the morning sun, making it particularly attractive to both myself and the bees.

Stout Moray -- Waka utsubo

A small Stout Moray, Waka utsubo, hiding in a crevice in the reef outside Queen's Surf at Waikiki on the Island of Oahu. This little moray will evenually grow to be about 3 feet long but, for the moment is just a tiny 6-8 inches.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

White Mouthed Moray

White Mouthed Moray, Gymnothorax melealgris, or Puhi in Hawaiian, at Queen's Surf Beach Park on Oahu. The water was a bit cold and a little bit cloudy with particulates from the recent rains so I had to get a little closer to take pictures of the fish. The bigger morays, such as this one, have a nasty habit of lunging out of their hole if they feel threatened. Add in the waves sloshing me back and forth over his hole and it made for a little excitement. There is a little bit of a balance between getting a decent picture and staying far enough away so as to not get bitten. The closest land analogy would be that of trying to get a closeup of a snake that would periodically coil up and rattle at you.

Hawaiian for beginners

Hawaiian lesson for the day:
How are you? = Pehea 'oe? (pronounced Pay Hey ah oy)
I am fine. = Maika'i no au. (pronounced My Kah Ee No ow)
Maika'i = excellent, well, awesome

Friday, January 11, 2013

Thursday, January 10, 2013

American White Pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos, flying low along the water in the Mission River Preserve. While frequently found in the interior of North America, these birds are less common visitors near the ocean. This one was found in a group of four birds. They were located about two miles inland from the mouth of the Mission River. I've only seen them there two or three times, as they tend to avoid the ocean on their annual Winter migration.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Mike the Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird, Calypte anna, patiently guarding the feeder from his perch on my apricot tree. Even though the apricot tree no longer has leaves and in spite of the feeder emptying out while I was visiting Mom for the holidays, my faithful hummingbird was there on his favorite branch waiting for me to refill the feeder when I returned. I think I'll dub him Mike. Of course, I'm open to nominations. I don't suppose Mike will mind one way or the other.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Kualoa Regional Park, Oahu, Hawaii

Kualoa Regional Park, Oahu, Hawaii. An overcast Winter day at Kualoa Regional Park highlighting the jagged, razor sharp, eroded lava cliffs caused by millions of years of rainfall as the warm, humid tradewinds rise along the slopes of the Koolau Range on Oahu.

Northern Shoveler

Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata, at the Mission River Preserve, San Diego, California. These adorable ducks spend the Winters in San Diego every year and can be easily recognized by their large, shovel-like beaks. They spend their summers throughout North America all the way up through Alaska and Winter in the Southern states down through Mexico. I love the way the feathers on their head glow a deep purple when the sun hits them just right, their big gangly beaks that seems too big for their heads and those funky lemon-yellow eyes.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

National Bird Day - An Avocet Afternoon

American Avocet, Recurvirostra americana, feeding in the shallows at the Mission River Preserve in San Diego, California. What better way to spend the afternoon on National Bird Day than to go out and watch the migratory waterfowl at the Mission River Preserve in San Diego? As if they knew, the birds were out in full force! There were ducks, herons, egrets, grebes, cormorants and two types of pelicans plus gulls galore! The annual Winter waterfowl migration to San Diego always makes Winter days a whole lot cheerier.

Friday, January 04, 2013

San Diego AOS Awards for January, 2013

(Clowesia Alaena Laryson x Ctsm Bound for Glory) 'Sunset Valley Orchids' AM/AOS 82pts

Mormodia Lime Tiger 'SVO II' HCC/AOS 77pts

Mormodes Nitty Gritty 'Sunset Valley Orchids' HCC/AOS 78pts

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Foggy Day

Foggy day in La Jolla. The marine layer is a regular occurence along the California coastline and it adds to a rather eerie effect as you gaze down the pilings into the fog.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013