Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird, Calypte anna. The hummingbird feeder is full of hummingbirds feeding on sugar around dusk, as they stock up on energy to survive our cool February nights. While there may only be one or two hummingbirds at the feeder during the Summer, during the Winter there may be four or even as many as six hummingbirds sitting at or hovering around the feeder at any given time.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Last Thing a Mud Goby Sees...

Snowy Egret, Egretta thula, San Elijo Preserve. This is the last thing a mud goby ever sees in his sad, mud skipping, invert eating existence. The egrets wade in the shallow water, waving their feet in little semi-circles above the mud. The moment one of those little gobies so much as twitches, bam. Bird food. This egret would catch the gobies in the tip of its beak and then toss them up like little peanuts, catching them in its gullet (a photo for another post).

Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Trusty Ukulele

This post is for Hanny. I bought this hand made tenor a long, long time ago in Hawaii. It was apparently made by Joseph N. Souza III, rather than his quite famous luthier dad, under the Kau Wela brand name. It sounds better than any other tenor I've had a chance to play, including the Martin tenor...not that I would necessarily know. Joe Souza III is apparently a fireman with Ladder 17 for the Honolulu Fire Department; however, he appears to have also learned to make a real nice Uke from his Dad.

Why Did the Turkey Cross the Street?

Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo variety intermieda (Rio Grande Subspecies), Santa Ysabel, California. As we were driving back from Santa Ysabel where we had partaken in some warm slices of apple pie and hot cocoa, we saw a huge flock of wild turkeys just to the right of the road. We pulled over and I walked back to try to get a shot of the flock. However, they were rather camera shy, choosing to fly across the street instead. I was a little worried that one would fly up just as a car was going by but they seemed to be keeping an eye on both me and the cars at the same time! Multi-tasking turkeys indeed!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Black Phoebe

Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans var. semiatra, taking a close look at me at the San Diego Botanical Gardens. The Black Phoebe is the only predominantly black flycatcher in North American and generally lives near water or in otherwise wet areas where there is mud available to build its nests with.

Striped Blowpipe Bamboo

Striped Blowpipe Bamboo, Bambusa dolichoclada, in the late afternoon sun at the San Diego Botanical Gardens. This species is native to Taiwan and the variegated variety makes a great yard accent although it will spread fairly quickly.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Spooning Turtle Style

Red-Eared Slider Turtles, Trachemys scripta elegans, out enjoying the sun. It is native to the Southern U.S. and Northern Mexico but has since naturalized in many other areas where it outcompetes the native turtle species becoming, in some instances, an invasive species.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mirror, Mirror

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest cat of all? The cat was dipping his paws into the pond, in the vain hope that he might catch one of the turtles way out in the middle of the pond without getting wet.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Roxburg Fig

Roxburg Fig, Ficus auriculatus, San Diego Botanic Gardens. These figs are native to Southeast Asia. They are used for jams, jellies and curries in India and in salads in Vietnam. The figs start off reddish purple and then turn greenish as they mature.

A Great Day for Hummers

Anna's Hummingbird, Calypte anna, enjoying some geranium nectar on a sunny, 80 degree, San Diego day.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Marbled Godwit with an Itch

Marbled Godwit, Limosa fedoa, with an itch. You ever get that itch that you just can't reach? Imagine if you had to scratch with your feet! This marbled godwit was taking a break from hunting for crustaceans and worms in the sand and was happily resting on one foot until...that itch came about...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentines Day to You and That Special Someone

Two California Brown Pelicans, Pelecanus occidentalis, in breeding plummage. These two are looking a little cozy. Wishing you and that special valentine all the best! -A

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Endangered Peregrine Falcon Off-Limits

Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus, taking flight off of a National Park Service off-limits sign. It seems somehow appropriate that an endangered bird would be perched on an off-limits sign. The area in back of the sign is a nesting area for snowy plovers and California Least Terns in the Spring.

Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve

Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve. Miles of beach, birds, the wind and the sound of the waves.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sea Lions Snuggle

California sea lion pup, Zalophus californianus, sprawled out with his buddies and his mom, on flipper touching each one just to be sure they're there. How do you tell the difference between a sea lion and a seal? If you go back to my previous post of a seal, you'll see that seals have little holes for ears but sealions have these cute little flappy ears like a dachshund. Also, sea lion feet still face downward allowing them to walk on them. Seals more or less squirm across the sand or rocks. Thus, you'll see sea lions further up on the rocks than you will normally find a seal. Still, it's amazing where either of them will pop up (on top of buoys for example or quite a distance up rocky shorelines). Finally, if you see them from a distance, sea lions will be sprawled all over on top of each other and are really social. Seals tend to like a bit of space between each other and will actually claw at other seals that get too close. As it turns out, both the seals and the sea lions are pupping right now so you can make quite a photo safari of the whole event!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Just Too Cute

Harbor Seal or Pacific Common Seal, Phoca vitulina v. richardsi. This seal pup was trying to make comfortable a little nest in the eel grass at low tide. It worked pretty well until a large wave came by and swept him back into the water.

Iceland Poppy Up Close and Personal

I love Iceland Poppies! They are always so brilliant and loud in seemingly flourescent shades of yellow, orange and peach and yet so fragile that the wind sends their petals fluttering down the street. Do you suppose the same thing is true of people? Hmm...? When I plant them, however, they typically last a flower or two and then slowly wither a way. Overwatering perhaps? Or maybe they just don't like the sprinkler system blasting them. Now there's a thought. Anyhow, hope you are all enjoying the new lunar year and that it is bringing you happiness, good health and bounty wherever you may be. If you're into awesome snacks, there's probably still time to head down to the local Chinese Grocery store to find some awesome seasonal snacks but you best hurry!

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Aloe alooides

Aloe alooides, blooming in the front yard, and always really popular with the bees! It's like Springtime in California!

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper's Hawk, Accipiter cooperii, roosting on the neighbor's Eucalyptus tree. I thought I heard a thud so he may have had a small run in with the plate glass but, aside from a stray feather or two, he doesn't seem much worse for the wear. This particular hawk likes to hang out by the neighbor's bird feeder, where he occasionally snatches a dove for dinner.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, is a sea eagle, feeding largely on fish that it has caught or stolen from another bird.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Back from the Brink: California Condor

California Condor, Gymnogyps californianus, is the largest North American land bird. It was nearly driven to extinction by DDT use, resulting in fragile egg shells that seldom survived to hatch. Since then, the ban on DDT and captive breeding programs have resulted going from 22 birds in 1987 to a little more than 400 birds today. The wild population still remain under threat from lead poisoning caused by eating carion left by hunters, that carion sadly laced with the same lead buckshot that killed it.

Last Halogen Flash for Pt. Loma Lighthouse

A last flash for the old halogen lights at the Point Loma Lighthouse before the halogens (taken 2/6/13) were replaced with brand spanking new LED lights (on 2/9/13).

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Long-Beaked Common Dolphin

Long-beaked common dolphin, Delphinus capensis, pacing the boats in San Diego Bay. It's tough to tell the difference between these and their cousins, the short-beaked common dolphin, Delphinus delphis. However, the long-beaked common dolphin is more frequently found in shallow coastal waters while the short beaked dolphin is found in deeper water along the edge of the continental shelf and along sea mounts.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

San Diego AOS Awards for February 2013

Lyc Abou First Spring 'Peter Sobel My Delight' FCC 93pts

Paph Kemp Tower 'Sunset Valley Orchids' AM 81pts

Phal Brother Lancer 'Peloric' JC

Phal Mei Dar Blackberry 'Harlequin' HCC 78pts

Zgn Dynamite Peru 'Sunset Valley Orchids' HCC 78pts

Monday, February 04, 2013

Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl, Athene cunicularia, part of a breeding project at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. These are pretty rare around San Diego these days, a victim of the growing population and urbanization of the grasslands. Cunicularia refers to rabbit, perhaps because of their habit of living in old gopher and rabbit holes. Their diet is primarily lizards, insects and the occasional small rodent.

Surf Scoter, Melanitta perspicillata

Surf Scoter, Melanitta perspicillata, getting a running start as it takes off across the water. San Diego Bay, California. These sea ducks are here every Winter but will return to Alaska around March.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

What Did You Do on Superbowl Sunday?

Pacific Grey Whale, Eschrichtius robustus, spyhopping for the tourists. This one even opened his mouth and sported a toothy grin. Needless to say, the Grey Whale Migration happens every Winter, regardless of weather or the latest event, Superbowl or not, and the people that went out this Sunday were treated to a special view!

Grey whales are baleen whales, using their baleen combs to filter out krill, shrimp and small fish. Every December, they migrate annually from Alaska down through Mexico where they calve before returning north around March, young calves in tow. Grey whales once also populated the Altantic ocean, however, it is believed that human hunting has largely eliminated them from the Atlantic (as well as from the Asian coast of the Westerm Pacific where they is critically endangered).

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Red Hot Poker

Red Hot Poker, Kniphofia hybrid, at the San Diego Safari Park. These are in full bloom right now and were just too brilliant and flashy to pass up. Sometimes also known as Tritoma, this genus comes from South Africa. While the Kniphofia flowers look like Aloe flowers, these plants have small underground bulbs and thin, grassy leaves. They have all the beauty of Aloes without the spines!

Turkey Vulture

Turkey vulture, Cathartes aura, in the San Pasqual Valley, looking down like it was thinking about pouncing. Decisions, decisions. Perhaps it was the hat?
Turkey vulture, Cathartes aura, peering down from up above where it was doing lazy circles. Did we look like carrion? Or maybe it wanted that nice Nikon Camera!

Western Fence Lizard on Marble

Western fence lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis. I really liked the contrast between the black lizard and the speckled marble.