For the Birds

November 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Downy woodpecker and red breasted nut hatch

Downy Woodpecker And Red Breasted Nut Hatch

    A month ago I set up four bird feeders in the backyard. At this point I get to use a big word by telling you that ornithology is my newest hobby. Uh, ornithology is like, the study of birds. So far the biggest challenges have been keeping squirrels out of the feeders and finding a food source that doesn’t leave a gigantic mess. What I’ve done (after a month of trial and error) is rig up the feeders in a way that squirrels can’t reach them so they have to eat up what falls on the ground, helping me clean up the mess. I don’t have a problem with squirrels, but when they get to the feeders, they hog all the food.

gilded flicker fighting

Gilded Flickers Fighting

    When I’m not languishing about having to clean up the mess I’m sitting, motionless as possible in a chair with my camera on the back porch. It is a little difficult to make out but the photo above shows two gilded flickers having a heated conversation. They were 50 yards away so my 200mm lens struggled to see them at all.

Blue Jay About To Feed

Blue Jay

    There are at least two blue jays that visit the yard. I always hear them before I see them and they are very skittish so being outside when they are around is a rare treat.

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhee

    Another rare visitor has been the spotted towhee. They are not as skittish as the blue jays but they only come around once every couple of days. You can see their red eyes from a mile away and they are the only bird thus far that flies away to a point in the distance that is too far away to see. All the other birds grab some food and either stay in the feeder to eat or fly to a nearby tree to break open the husks. Not these guys, they grab some food and then take off into the wild blue yonder

two house finches

Two House Finches

    The house finches are around most days. The males have red plumage while the females do not.

downy woodpecker male

Downy Woodpecker

    The male downy woodpecker pictured above was taken by me back in September of this year. I was stalking a dragonfly on a gladiolus when I heard this little man pecking at the bark of an apple tree.

bird at the feeder

Birds Having A Meal

    The above photo shows a red breasted nut hatch having dinner with some sparrows. The nut hatches are my favorite bird thus far because they seem to be the most fearless.

red breasted nut hatch

Red Breasted Nut Hatch

    I’m serious, the nut hatches will stay perched on the feeders when I refill the seed and they don’t take any shit from the blue jays or the squirrels when they come around. They are able to cling to anything with an agility that puts Spiderman to shame and it is fun to watch them smash and store food all around the yard.

Robin eating juniper berries

American Robin Eating A Juniper Berry

    As a patriotic American and a veteran of the United States Navy I will end this post with a photo of an American robin eating a juniper berry. Cheers!

Bald Eagles In Dutch Harbor Alaska

May 19, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

bald-eagles-in-Dutch-Harbor-Alaska

Bald Eagles In Dutch Harbor, Alaska

    I spent the first three months of 2013 in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, working for Westward Seafoods. The bald eagles that hung around the compound where I lived were the one bit of wildlife solace that kept me from losing my mind while I was there. Those of you that travel through or live in the downtown area of any city have seen pigeons all over the fucking place, right? The bald eagles of Dutch Harbor fill that role. The fishing and crabbing industry has, in my opinion allowed these flight capable dinosaurs to flourish on an island in the Bering Sea.

bald-eagle-at-the-door-in-Dutch-Harbor-Alaska

A Bald Eagle Calls For Dinner

    In the photo above you can see just how close these bald eagles were to where I lived. For whatever reason, I decided to give up San Diego for Alaska. Honestly, it was because I had taken San Diego for granted. I didn’t know it at the time, but I did. San Diego has the best weather on Earth and that’s why I moved here from Denver back in 2006. I forgot that fact but was reminded about it while I was in Alaska.

three-bald-eagles-in-dutch-harbor-alaska

Eagles Hanging Out In Dutch Harbor

    Anyway, I got to see more bald eagles in person on my doorstep than most people see in their entire lives. They were everywhere all the time so I took a lot of pictures. They were really close; close enough to make me think that if I tried to pet them they would rake their velociraptor talons across my face and eat my eyeballs for dinner.

bald-eagle-shit-in-dutch-harbor-alaska

Bald Eagle Shit

    I cannot, in good conscience talk about bald eagles without talking about how they poop all over the place. They don’t shit like a dog or a cat or even other feathered friends. They shit like malicious teenagers that just had their internet privileges taken away. You can see in the photo above that they project their poop like Fox News projects their news.

bald-eagle-at-night-in-Dutch-Harbor-Alaska

Popeye, The Bald Eagle

    There was one eagle in particular that I was easily able to pick out from the crowd and that was one that everyone called, Popeye. There is something wrong with his right eye; it’s squinty. Normally, a bald eagle can stare at you with both eyes at the same time, with depth perception that I can only imagine puts ours to shame. The fellow in the photo above, with his defective eye was constantly swinging his head around to see what was going on.

popeye-the-bald-eagle

Popeye IS A Dutch Harbor, Alaska Institution

    Despite his defective eye, Popeye the Bald Eagle is a very imposing figure. His talons and beak, especially at close range, look like they could cut through sheet metal. I walked by him hundreds of times while I was there and even fed him a few times.

alfonso-and-a-bald-eagle

Alfonso Venegas With A Bald Eagle

    The photo above is just an example of how close we were to these bald eagles. They really were all around the Westward Seafoods compound and were a part of our daily lives.

bald-eagle-at-westward-seafoods

Westward Seafoods Processing Plant and A Bald Eagle

    By this time I’m sure you’ve noticed that all the photos in this post have the eagles perched in a very human world. That is on purpose because they are, after 3 months, the best photos of the birds I managed to get. I’d never been this close to bald eagles before so having them so close to where I lived was amazing for me. I did some hiking and took some wild shots of these birds but at the end of the day I had no zoomed in shots that could even compare to what I’ve presented here. Every shot in this post was made with an 8mm fisheye lens at a distance of three or so feet. Yeah, the lens my awesome parents gave to me a year and a half ago has become my permanent accessory. Cheers!

Hares Of Coronado

August 25, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Hare Black-tailed Jackrabbit on Coronado

Coronado Hare or Black-tailed Jackrabbit

    Silver Strand is the ribbon of land that connects Coronado to the continental United States. It is the reason Coronado is a peninsula, not an island and it is also the reason Coronado is home to a collection of wild hares. They live on the bay side of Silver Strand State Beach, amongst the bushes between the marina and Navy housing. I had never seen a hare before so I didn’t know that’s what it was when I took these photos; I just thought it was a weird looking, freakishly large, 2 foot tall rabbit. My curiosity lead to some internet research which lead to me now knowing the difference between a rabbit and a hare.

Hare Black-tailed Jackrabbit on Coronado

Hare On Silver Strand State Beach

    It really boils down to size and cuteness. Hares are bigger and look like they mean business. They have muscle definition, even while sitting and their head has a very pronounced snout. Their ears and tail are large, with black tips and their eyes are alert, with a defined iris and pupil. At 2 feet tall hares are over 1/3 my height which is, unnerving. Basically, a hare is a mammal that looks like it’s ready for action and when you see it up close, realize it’s so big it could probably jump high enough to kick you right in the stomach. “Cute” is not the first word that comes to mind when you see a hare, I’d say “built” would be more appropriate.

Rabbit On Coronado

    Coronado also has a rabbit population, one member of which you see above. Isn’t it just oh-so-cute?!? It looks like a powder puff with big adorable dolls eyes. It really doesn’t look like a hare any more than a housecat looks like a bobcat; a rabbit is cute & fluffy while a hare looks large and in charge. So, don’t neglect the bay side of Silver Strand State Beach when you visit Coronado or you’ll miss out on some great boating and wildlife experiences. Cheers!

Chula Vista Nature Center Art Aquatic: Sea Life + Glassworks

May 24, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

Chula Vista Nature Center Art Aquatic Exhibit

Art Aquatic: Sea Life + Glass Exhibit

        Chula Vista Nature Center, has an exhibit going until September 5, 2011 titled, “Art Aquatic: Sea Life + Glassworks” that I checked out recently, and it was well worth the trip. Recently renamed The Living Coast Discovery Center, I’d never been there before so it was a fun time of going, doing and seeing something new.

Chula Vista Nature Center Art Aquatic Exhibit

Tropical Fish At Chula Vista Nature Center

        Chula Vista Nature Center is located at 1000 Gunpowder Point Dr. Chula Vista, CA 91910, at E St. and I-5. This location allows for three very good options to get to the center. You can drive there, take public transportation or ride your bike, via Bayshore Bikeway. However you decide to get there, park in the lot and wait for the free nature center shuttle to pick you up. The shuttle runs every 15 minutes so you’ll never have to wait very long, just be patient and enjoy the view.

Chula Vista Nature Center Art Aquatic Exhibit

Scorpionfish With Modern Glass Art

        The Art Aquatic: Sea Life + Glassworks exhibit that lead me to Chula Vista Nature Center to begin with was a remarkably simple yet beautiful study in combining brightly colored, organically shaped glass with brightly colored tropical fish. There are a dozen or so aquariums that each contains the work of one artist, along with living tropical fish that compliment the colors and design of the art.

Chula Vista Nature Center Art Aquatic Exhibit Glass Volcano

Glass Volcano As Aquatic Art

        This exhibit is remarkably simple: Glass is non-reactive, so it makes perfect sense to incorporate some brightly colored glass inside the aquarium, not just as the boring, clear walls we usually see. All of the cool shapes, designs and themes you see in these photos (except for the fish, of course) were hand-made or hand-blown by local, San Diego hot glass artists.

Chula Vista Nature Center Aquatic Glass Art Exhibit

Chula Vista Nature Center Aquatic Glass Art Exhibit

        Be sure to take your time as you walk through Chula Vista Nature Center because each display and exhibit holds more than meets the eye. Remember this is a visual place about biology so there is a lot to take in every step of the way. The Art Aquatic exhibit is a very small part of the nature center, which sits on the 316 acre Sweetwater Marsh Wildlife Refuge so don’t think looking at fish is the only thing to do. You can also look at sea turtles, touch sharks and manta rays, see raptors and predatory birds and walk a scenic trail to the San Diego Bay.

Chula Vista Nature Center Aquatic Glass Art Exhibit

Art Aquatic: Sea Life + Glassworks At Chula Vista Nature Center

        One can only imagine what the fish think of their fancy aquariums or what they will do when they have to give up their fancy décor but for right now, they seem content and happy with their colorful new homes.

Scorpionfish Chula Vista Nature Center Aquatic Glass Art Exhibit

Scorpionfish In A Living Art Exhibit

        So, my trip to Chula Vista Nature Center was good, and I found out there is a lot to see there and it is very much worth the $11 price of admission. You can find more information on the Chula Vista Nature Center website or by following them on Twitter. Cheers!

The Parable Of Seagulls Fighting

February 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Seagull Discovers Peanut Butter

Once Upon A Time A Seagull Found Some Peanut Butter In A Plastic Container

        The tale of this post happened right in front of me in Imperial Beach today. In a nutshell, there was a seagull that found a plastic peanut butter & crackers container and while trying to get at what was left of the peanut butter, attracted the attention of his fellow birds. A struggle ensued and the original owner ultimately lost his prize.

Seagulls Fighting Over Peanut Butter

Trouble Started For The Seagull Right Away

        I saw this episode as a metaphor for something. I’m not quite sure what to call it, but it’s one of those lessons or instances where the person (or bird) that gets what he wants ends up with more than he bargained for.

Seagulls Fighting Over Peanut Butter

Outnumbered And On The Defensive

        Basically, you have one bird that has something, so all the other birds want it now too. What none of the birds know is that whoever gets the prize will probably die. They are all fighting over something that will kill them, just because of the perceived value that ownership has given this certain something.

Seagulls Fighting Over Peanut Butter

And Now We See It Is Just A Parable

        It’s right about at this point, right about when the original owner of the highly sought after yet deadly prize looses the peanut butter that we can see this is a parable. Remember the Merrie Melodies cartoon “One Froggy Evening” where the construction worker finds a singing frog? That’s what happened right in front of me with these seagulls. I thought I was looking at the beginning, middle and end of a story but I wasn’t… I was looking at something much bigger.

Seagulls Fighting Over Peanut Butter

And The Story Repeats Itself

        What I saw as the end of my seagull story was merely the beginning of another, identical story for some one else, and so on and so on. Aside from the “don’t litter” undertones here, I think there is another lesson to be learned, a lesson that has to do with perception and point of view and things like that. I can’t quite put it into words, but I’m sure it’s there.

Cats On A Windowsill

February 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Cats On A Windowsill

Cats On A Windowsill

        These two cats were pointed out to me, sitting on the windowsill of a second story window. For some reason, there was a lamp pointed outside, illuminating them from behind which made for a great photo.

Urban Bird Of Prey

January 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Highway Bird Of Prey

        San Diego was a lot of wildlife sanctuaries in the South Bay area, so a lot of urban areas are right on the fringe of very wild places. Of course these wild things venture out, which is why this bird of prey is on a light post above I-5 in National City.

Carnivorous Birds

November 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Bird Of Prey

Bird Of Prey

        I saw this bird earlier today, surveying it’s domain from the top of a street light. Lack of sunlight and a slow piece of glass attached to my D5000 meant I had to crank up the ISO to 1000, which I love being able to do without worrying about noise. Anyway, as I noticed, watched and photographed this bird of prey (with HUGE talons) I was reminded of a few other blog posts of mine that also had some pics of interesting birds.

Blackbird In The Rain

A Raven In The Rain

        The shot above was featured in a post of mine this past February, and is one of my personal favorites. It was a neat combination of San Diego, rain, me and a manual focus 450mm lens that led to a shot that I just really like.

Black Crowned Night Heron at San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park

Black Crowned Night Heron

        The shot above was taken by me last April at San Diego’s Wild Animal Park and was also featured in a blog post of mine. This black crowned night heron plucked up and then devoured the little duckling you see in it’s beak. I’ve since come to learn that the black crowned night herons in the Wild Animal Park are uninvited guests that are problematic to the staff and animals of the park because they swoop in and eat the park’s baby birds.

Pigeons

November 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Pigeons Drinking

Pigeons Drinking

        A goodly amount of the time I spend waiting for buses and trolleys while at a San Diego transit stations is spent watching pigeons. They seem to have evolved in tandem with people because they only eat what we throw away, drop and spill. The puddle of fluid the pigeons above are drinking above had dripped from the tail pipe of a bus a few minutes before.

I Found The Hawk

July 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

A Hawk Cries In La Mesa, Ca

La Mesa’s Resident Hawk

        I am writing this at 5pm on July 4th, 2010, so I have less than two hours to get downtown to watch the fireworks display in San Diego Bay. I plan on capturing some amazing images. The OTHER thing that happened today was me snapping a couple pics of the very outspoken hawk that has been in my neighborhood for a month or so.

A Hawk Cries In La Mesa, Ca

A Hawk Scratches In La Mesa, Ca

        I readily admit that the pics for this post are weird, but I am in a hurry because I am going down to San Diego Bay to see The Big Boom fireworks show. I am going to attempt a complete guerrilla photo shoot for this. It will all be on public transportation so wish me luck.

Ocean Beach Bike Path & Dog Beach

June 23, 2010 by · 3 Comments 

Dog park on the beach

OB’s Dog Beach

        I have decided to delve into the inline skating community of San Diego. Being able to explore (on inline skates) what San Diego has to offer during the middle of the work day is just about the only thing I can do that does not cost money and bring me joy at the same time. Yesterday I decided to skate the Ocean Beach Bike Path, picking it up just north of the Old Town transit center, and it turned out to be the best decision I’ve made in a long time. If you are skating west, the trail ends at the mouth of the San Diego River and it was here that I discovered OB’s Dog Beach.

Ocean Beach Dog Park

Running In The Pacific Ocean With Your Dog

Ocean Beach Dog Park

Dogs Just Want To Have Fun

        This park is HUGE and carries itself inland, up the mouth of the San Diego river for at least a quarter of a mile. When I reached the end of the path, I removed my skates in favor of flip-flips and walked down to the shore. Dogs having fun at the beach is a great thing to watch and is also a great photo op.

Ocean Beach Dog Park

Every Dog Is Your Friend At OB’s Dog Beach

        A dog park is very unique because every square inch of every dog park is fair game for photographers. All you have to do is walk down to the park or in this case, the beach and take pictures of dogs running at full gait up and down the beach and leaping into the air catching toys.

Ocean Beach Dog Park

Dogs Jump Through The Air

        I included the above shot because it shows just how weird the world can be when viewed at 1/2500th of a second. Two dogs playing yet neither one is touching the ground.

Ocean Beach Dog Beach

New Friends At The Dog Beach

        I don’t know why, but the beach brings out the best in a dog. So, plan a trip with your dog to Ocean Beach’s Dog Beach, or just skate the bike path to the park and watch other people having fun with their dogs. You don’t have to take a car or a dog to get to this beach since it is the start/finish of the OB Bike Path. A great set of maps that detail everywhere to bike or skate in the county can be found on the iCommute website.

Ocean Beach Dog Park

Dogs Playing In The Ocean

Ocean Beach Dog Beach

Dogs Playing On The Beach

Ocean Beach Dog Beach Park

Triple Exposure Of A Dog Catching A Disc On The Beach

        A safari like this one really helps to illustrate just how fluid life can be. I had planned on taking pictures of the Ocean Beach Bike Path as a reference for other skaters and bikers, but a giant beach set aside for dogs turned out to be subject instead. I thought it would be a good day because I strapped on my skates and had my camera, and it was, but in a completely different way. For those of you interested in places you can skate or bike without having to worry about automobiles, should click on this link. It will take you to a website that shows you every exclusive bike/skate path in San Diego. They are referred to as RED ROUTES. A red route is a bike/skate path where automobile traffic is forbidden. The Ocean Beach Bike Path, which leads to the dog beach is one of them.

Hawk And His Prey

June 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Hawk

Hawk

        The other day, I heard the resident hummingbirds in my neighborhood really chirping up a storm. The hawk in the photo above was the reason why. It was eating lunch in the tree next door to the hummingbird’s nest and they did not like it at all. The hawk flew off right after I took this picture and the hummingbirds went back to doing whatever it is they do.

Joshua Tree National Park

May 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Trees In The National Park

        Even though I have not traveled much in the last ten years, I like to look at the laundry list of places I have been with pride and nostalgia. I have traveled to 5 continents, 18 countries and 17 American states. With any luck at all, those numbers will grow as will my understanding of the world. On Sunday of Memorial Day weekend 2010, I traveled with my cousins to Joshua Tree National Park.

Skull Rock

Joshua Tree Sign

        Skull Rock and The Hall Of Horrors can not be seen anywhere else. You must go to Joshua Tree National Park to see them, and countless other geologic, animalistic and aquatic features. Check out the Joshua Tree website and plan your trip today. A few major things to know: Bring your own water, firewood and DEFINITELY bring your camera.

        Joshua Tree National Park looks like the set of a motion picture where the story takes place on a planet that is not planet Earth. Earlier I mentioned the number of places I have been on this planet, not to brag, but for some perspective. Joshua Tree National Park is not like traveling on Earth, it’s like going the surface of an unknown moon of an unknown planet. The only familiar things are what you carry with you and the people you travel with.

Joshua Tree National Park

Wildlife

        Located about 175 miles from San Diego, 140 miles from Los Angeles and 215 miles from Las Vegas, Joshua Tree National Park is an easy and interesting place to go for anyone in the southwest United States.

Joshua Tree National Park Flower

Flowers Reside Here Too

        For this journey, I had my trusty Nikon D5000 and two Nikkor lenses. Between these two lenses I covered the photographic spectrum from 18 to 200mm, and I ended up using every single bit of that distance. The one thing that I am lacking with this rig is macro capability; At 200mm, I have to be at least 3 feet away from my subject. Not a big deal, but it is something to consider when shooting flowers and bugs.

Joshua Tree Hummingbird

Hummingbird In Joshua Tree National Park

        The hummingbird you see above had one of the loudest wing beats I have ever heard. It almost sounded like a helicopter in the distance, or a very large bumblebee very near by. Either way, it landed and stood still long enough for me to take a single photo.

Joshua Tree National Park

Rocks And Joshua Trees

        Aside from all the things to see in Joshua Tree National Park, there are a lot of rocks to climb. Seriously, this place is a rock climber’s dream. There are rock formations that that can be stared at for hours or climbed upon for days.

Joshua Tree National Park

An Insect On A Thorny Plant

        For me, one of the best things about going to a National Park, or any outdoor/wilderness setting in general is being able to see the way non-humans live and go about their lives. Since animals do not have to compete with us for life inside a park, we are able (if we quiet our minds and take the time to just look & listen) to physically and personally see just how connected every living thing is. The photo above helps to illustrate how every plant and animal has a reason for being, and that reason is not to be subjugated by people.

Lizard In Joshua Tree National Park

Blue-Belly Lizard

        I saw a lot of lizards during my time in the park, but they are very fast and always seemed to be running away from me towards the cover of the nearest shrub or crack in the rocks. The specimen above was sunning on a rock, and stood still while I approached and photographed him.
        That will bring this post to a close, but stay tuned for another post in the next day or so that will feature some amazing things I saw just north of Joshua Tree National Park. I won’t give it away, but historic Route 66, the town and volcanic crater of Amboy, Roy’s Cafe, shoes and immortalizing myself with rocks are all on the menu. Cheers!

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Hummingbirds At Rest And In Flight

May 20, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Hummingbird in San Diego

Calliope Hummingbird (Immature Male)

        The two hummingbirds in this post were captured two very different ways, or in particular, with two very different shutter speeds. The one above, made possible by the VR (Vibration Reduction) on my lens was snapped at 1/20th of a second. When I too took this shot, I was sitting on a flight of stairs, with my elbows resting on top of my knees, in a sort of human tripod stance. I held my breath (as I do before I take EVERY shot) and pressed the shutter release button.

Hummingbird Drinks In Balboa Park

Hummingbird Drinks In Balboa Park

        For the shot above, the technique was a little different. This hummingbird, which I first showed in this post here, just came swooping in towards a fountain and and grabbed droplets of water out of the air. Action would have to be frozen, so the shutter speed was dialed up to 1/1250th and over the following 23 seconds, I snapped 22 photos. The one above is my favorite.

Balboa Park Has A Secret Fountain

May 12, 2010 by · 4 Comments 

Desert Garden In Balboa Park

Desert Garden In Balboa Park

        In a post from back in March, I talked about how I was having difficulty getting really good and UNIQUE photos while inside Balboa Park. In particular, the unique part has really been kicking my ass. It seems that all the photos out there are taken in the part of the park that is on the west side of Park Blvd. Well, there is a sliver of Balboa Park that runs the whole length of the park, from the San Diego Zoo to the north to President’s Way to the south on the EAST side of Park Blvd. There is even a small bit of the park to the south of the Naval Medical Center. I decided I would concentrate on this eastern most part of the park on this day, and I’m glad I did because I found a fountain I’d never seen before and saw some wildlife too. I was pleased with the photowalk.
        The photo above shows the Desert Garden, at the end of the footbridge that crosses Park Blvd. Use this map of Balboa Park for reference.

Rose Garden In Balboa Park

The Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden

        For the photo above, we are looking north, the pedestrian bridge and the southern end of the Desert garden are in the background.

Rose Garden In Balboa Park

Roses In Balboa Park

        The Rose Garden is two circular areas, with the center of one being a fountain, while the other (pictured above) has a vine and flower covered gazebo for a centerpiece.

Veterans Museum & Memorial Center In Balboa Park

Veterans Museum And Memorial Center

        When you see this statue you are very close to the southeastern tip of Balboa Park. Just keep wandering past the Veterans Memorial and you will see a secret fountain… I never knew it was here until now. It seems that the official title for this area of the park is Administrative Courtyard.

Secret Fountain In Balboa Park

Fountain Inside Administrative Courtyard

        This area with the fountain is wide open to the west, so the setting sun makes for some great lighting, should you happen to be here during golden hour.

Number 7 Bus Stop In Balboa Park

Abandoned Bus Stop

        I can only guess that once upon a time, the number 7 SDMTS bus ran up through here. The number 7 still runs through Balboa Park, but it stays on Park Blvd, which is 250 yards away from this old, abandoned bus stop.

Rabbit In Balboa Park

Rabbit, Behind The Bus Stop

        There was wildlife around this fountain, including a rabbit with flea covered ears. It felt like I was at a watering hole in Africa, except this journey was right in my own backyard, and I never knew it until today.

Blackbird In Balboa Park

Blackbird In Balboa Park

        There were a couple of these birds calling to each other or to the world in general. There were a lot of birds.

Secret Fountain In Balboa Park

Sunlight And Shade As Golden Hour Approaches

        This area is going to be my new launch off point my trips into Balboa Park for the time being. I usually start at the pedestrian bridge, but this new location is much more zen.

Secret Fountain In Balboa Park

The Statue Surrounded By His Fountain

        There are spiderwebs on the statue in the center of the fountain. That is amazing to me how a spider was able to somehow make his or her way to the primo spot at the primo watering hole in the area.

Hummingbird Drinks In Balboa Park

Hummingbird Drinks In Balboa Park

        The shot above presented itself just as I was about to leave. It is my favorite one for the session, and since I am very happy with the other photos as well, it was a good day. It felt good to get some shots from Balboa Park that I like, and that are unique.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park Cutting Room Floor

May 7, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

Flamingos at Wild Animal Park

Flamingos

        Last month I ran a trilogy of blog posts that featured photos I took at San Diego’s Wild Animal Park. I had some great pics of the butterfly jungle, birds, and the Animals of Africa exhibit. This post will feature a random assortment of photos that, for one reason or another I didn’t like. Mostly the problem was composition or the quality of the subject matter. At any rate, this post will contain those very photos that didn’t make it into the first round, yet I still wanted to give a chance to see the light of day. Yes, I know that on game day you don’t want to have to sit through the JV squad getting their mandatory play time, but even sporting policy will have to answer to me sooner or later.

Egret at Wild Animal Park

Egret With Mating Plumage

See through dress at wild animal park

Uh… No.

Lorikeet Feeding at Wild Animal Park

Feeding The Lorikeets

Blackbird at Wild Animal Park

Somethimes Feathers Get Ruffled

Gorilla at Wild Animal Park

Gorilla

Giraffes at Wild Animal Park

Bring On The Giraffes

Lion at Wild Animal Park

The King Of The Jungle, Or So She Thinks

The Roadrunner’s Last Day

May 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Roadrunner In Otay Mesa

A Roadrunner Actually Running Down The Road

        At high noon yesterday, I went hunting my neighborhood roadrunner again. I lucked out because I found a two roadrunners in the area, and they seemed to be friends because they were singing like canaries. I will admit that the above photo is not as colorful or tack-sharp as I usually require to make it into my blog, but come on… This is a photo of a roadrunner, roadrunning! How often do you get to see that?

Roadrunner In Otay Mesa

American Roadrunner Stay Away From Me

        Depending on the angle of the sun, the roadrunner’s head and the price of tea in China, roadrunners have a cool, patriotic eyeshadow color scheme. While I was hunting the roadrunner, I was reminded of days past when I would watch Roadrunner cartoons on Saturday mornings, and in particular, the theme song.

        If you’re on a highway and roadrunner goes beep beep,
Just step aside or you might end up in a heap.
Roadrunner roadrunner runs on the road all day.
Even the coyote can’t make him change his ways.
Roadrunner, the coyote’s after you.
Roadrunner, if he catches you your through.
That coyote is really a crazy clown.
When can he learn that he’s never gonna mow him down?
Poor little roadrunner never bothers anyone.
Just running down the road is his idea of having fun.

        The funny thing is that even after listening to that theme song, and even humming along for all those years, I found out today that I didn’t know most of the words. So, I found the song on the web and took a journey back to a Saturday morning in 1982. That’s right, I like to break a mental sweat as well.

Roadrunner On The Fence in Otay Mesa

Over The Fence And Out Of Sight

        Even though I was physically at least 30 or 40 feet away from the roadrunner at any given time, I think they ultimately just got tired of me following them around. I can’t say I blame them because it was probably their lunch hour too. In the photo above, this roadrunner jumped/flew to the top of a fence, posed for one last photo, then jumped down on the other side and ran away.

Roadrunner In San Diego

April 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Roadrunner In The Road

Roadrunner

        I’ve seen roadrunners run around the road in Otay Mesa for two years, but never got a photo of one until today. There are at least three that look like this one, and another one that is bigger and is mostly blue. I haven’t seen the blue roadrunner for quite awhile. They seem to spend most of their time hunting for lizards, singing and running down the road.

Roadrunner In The Road

A Roadrunner Stares Back

        A roadrunner can really look weird when you happen to see them facing dead at you. Without their beaks to give a sense of depth, they almost have a dog snout. Well, this roadrunner snapshot made me laugh, so into the blog it goes.

A Day At The Docks 2010

April 23, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

A Day At The Docks 2010

San Diego’s Day At The Docks 2010

        I didn’t spend much time at this event, held last Sunday in San Diego Bay, but I did stick around long enough to book a $2 ticket for a boat ride around the bay. It was fun, and the weather, even though hazy was a perfect temperature.

Seals In San Diego Bay

Seals Living In San Diego Bay

        If this platform, adjacent to the Point Loma Submarine Base serves a purpose other than to allow seals to sunbathe, I couldn’t imagine what it could be. They have seabird neighbors, and boat riders like me to keep them company, so I don’t suppose it’s a bad life.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

April 22, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

Tiger At San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Tigers

        Since this was my first trip to The Wild Animal Park since the 1970’s, it was all new to me. We spent 8 hours there and saw less than half the park. Next time I go, it will be on a two day weekend pass, and I’ll rent a Segway as well, even though a two hour rental is $80, I think it’ll be worth it in time saved and energy conserved because I was dragging ass after walking around and mostly standing all day.

Giraffes At At San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Giraffes

        Giraffes have a prehensile tongue, so they can control it like we control a finger. For this photo they just used their tongue like a tongue.

Cheetah At San Diego Zoo Safari Park

You, My Friend Are A Cheetah

        Cheetahs are the fastest land animal on the planet, and probably the solar system. Regardless of speed, I think all cats, wild and domestic, share the trait of the upside-down V mouth. Noticing the angle of the upside down V is something I’ve enjoyed doing since childhood.

Rhinoceros At San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The Thinker And The Stinker

        The horn of a rhinoceros is made out of keratin, which is this same thing our hair and fingernails are made of. This rhino seems to lead a splendid life of leisure.

Lions At San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Lions Are The King Of The Jungle

        If you find yourself needing to flee from a lion, I would suggest climbing a tree. It seems that lions CAN climb trees, but they don’t ALWAYS climb trees. These are better odds then staying on the ground where ALL the lions will eat you every time.

Giraffes At San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park

A Few More Giraffes

        I try to keep repetition to a minimum on my posts, but this post does have a couple of the same animals. Besides, giraffes are cool, as are the other animal repeats you are about to see.

Tiger At San Diego Zoo Safari Park

2010 Is The Year Of The Tiger

        Tigers are my favorite cat, and favorite year on the Chinese lunar calendar. The tigers were WAY far a away from the viewing area, so I was at 450mm, and I was shooting through a chain-link fence that I wanted to make disappear, so I used my smallest available f/stop, which was f/5.6.

Elephant At San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Elephant

        This elephant was the only one I had a clear shot of of the four or so that were walking around. The background is distracting, but the curve of his trunk in this photo is what spoke to me so it found a place in this post.

Lion At San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The Lion Says Goodnight

        And so ends the trilogy of posts from my day at The San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park. I’m going to put out a fourth, “special feature” post with photos that did not quite make the grade for one reason or another, but would have been rad if I had gotten it right. To view the first post, featuring butterflies, click here, and for the second post full of birds, click here. Cheers!

Birds Of San Diego Zoo Safari Park

April 21, 2010 by · 6 Comments 

Victoria Crowned Pigeon at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Victoria Crowned Pigeon

        This colorful post consists of birds I photographed while on safari at San Diego Zoo Safari Park this past weekend. I feel pretty confident about my identification of all the birds in these photos except for the one above and the one below. If anyone knows for sure what kind of birds they are, let me know.
        UPDATE: The top photo is a Victoria Crowned Pigeon & the black bird below is a Boat Tailed Grackle.

Boat Tailed Grackle at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Boat Tailed Grackle

        This photo was snapped while my companion and I ate our gourmet lunch. Even though I had money specifically for what I knew would be overpriced food, it really didn’t help ease the sting of the price tag. The problem is that when I got to places like The Wild Animal Park, the San Diego Zoo or to street festival events, I really look forward to eating while I’m there. So, just for you curious types that would like to what I ate, where I ate it and what I paid for it: I ate at the Mombasa Island Cooker where I enjoyed (out on the covered terrace of course) a gourmet western cheeseburger, garlic fries and a glass of merlot, for which I paid $16.

Lorikeet at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Lorikeet

        The lorikeet exhibit was one of the more interactive and “touchable” things to do at The Wild Animal Park. You can wander through the exhibit and most of the lorikeets will come up to you, much like pigeons do at parks and bus stations. If you have $3 to spend, you may purchase cups of nectar that you can hold out in your hand, which entices the lorikeets to land on you, walk down your arm and drink.

African Crowned Crane at San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park

African Crowned Crane

        There are a lot of these African crowned cranes in the park, and they seem to like to travel in pairs. Photographically speaking, subjects that have both black AND white in them make proper exposure very difficult. In the photo above, the highlights are a bit blown out, in order to accommodate the deep black feathers.

Shoebill at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Shoebill

        The shoebills in The Wild Animal Park were the only birds that I found to be a little bit scary. For starters, the top of their head came up to about my chin and their bill is about the size of an encyclopedia. (An “encyclopedia” is a large book full of facts compiled by learned individuals that people used to use as a reference to write reports or settle arguments. An encyclopedia should NOT be compared to the graffiti-on-the-wall WIKIPEDIA, which is an online dumping ground of psuedo-facts written by anyone with at least monkey-level typing skills.) Anyway, a bird that can stand on tippy-toes and look me in the eye with a blunt instrument for a beak gets respect, and a healthy dose of fear out of me.

Black Crowned Night Heron at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Black Crowned Night Heron

        According to this website, the black crowned night heron is a local (San Diego) bird that happens to fly into the Wild Animal Park to hunt and hang out. I’m not sure about any effects this has on the non-native animals that are actually brought into the park, but I watched this heron snatch this baby bird from a nest and then eat it. It actually caused quite a ruckus from the people watching as well as the momma bird that tried, in vain to get her baby back.

Riding The Trolley In San Diego

April 18, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Gorilla at Wild Animal Park in San Diego, CA

I Don’t Want To Ride The Trolley

        This gorilla, as photographed by me at the Wild Animal Park this weekend has a very distinct look. He has the look of a person that is about to start their commute on San Diego’s public transit system. SDMTS has a new commercial that, for some reason highlights the travel of a hot, young couple that have never been on the trolley or a bus before. People that only ride the trolley to Padres games, Chargers games and special events in downtown San Diego. Events that get extra trolley service added, to ensure that sports or Earth Day fans will feel they get their $5 worth out of a day pass. I think SDMTS should film a commercial showing people that have to use the trolley to get to and from work on a daily basis. The gorilla above, with his scowl should star in that commercial.
        Those of us that have the special event of “going to work” on the trolley or bus get less than nothing. We have experienced a 40% reduction in service, yet fair weather baseball fans get special, added shuttle service, via the trolley to PETCO Park. Chargers game on Sunday? No problem. SDMTS adds special trolley service from downtown to Qualcomm Stadium on a SINGLE trolley on game days. Do you have to commute to work on a non game day? Tough shit, non-sports fan. Going to work on weekdays is less important to SDMTS than going football or baseball games on the weekend.
        Allow me to dust off an old gem by reminding everyone of this video I shot back in September, 2009. In it you will see a public commuter have his head crushed under the knee of a trolley security guard, and then the guards turn on me for filming it. I should have worn a Chargers jersey I guess, and then I would have been given preferential treatment, instead of being treated like an average commuter.

Blackbird In The Rain

February 27, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Blackbird In The Rain

450mm, 1/1250th, f/5.6 200 ISO – In The Rain

        This black bird was sitting atop a street light in the rain. I like the detail of the perch and feathers, and the way the bird seems to be staring back at me. I don’t know if it’s a crow or a raven, so if anyone out there can tell the difference, let me know.

Raven Hits The Glass

February 12, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Raven Hits The Glass

The Raven The Glass & The Wardrobe

        A raven, trying in vain to enter a building with mirror-like windows was my entertainment at lunchtime today. This bird was banging the shit out of these windows, and my guess is that the stupid bird thought his reflection was an adversary that must be destroyed. This is a raven, not a crow, so all you EMO fans will have to go yet another day wondering why the world doesn’t understand you. Do you know how to tell the difference between a raven and a crow? I do. Crows pronounce the “C” in their voice when they call… Caw! Ravens have a deeper, raspier voice that sounds like, “Ahh” or “Rah.” This bird is a raven.

Tarantula Hawk Kills A Spider

June 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Wasp Kills Spider

The Spider’s Eyes Are Like A Doll’s Eyes

        As this wasp tracked down and hunted the spider, one veteran of The Battle of Palm Springs and I were present. Knowing the last living thing this spider would see, besides the wasp that would ultimately see to his demise was me gave me reason to snap his or her photo as the light went out out it’s eye.

        The eye of the spider showed defeat and when the wasp dragged the spider under a shrub, I wondered if the spider had a mind anything like mine, and what terrors would be going through that mind, if it did.