August 25, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut · 2 Comments
Dragonfly In Otay Valley Regional Park
If you like dragonflies then you will want to ride your bike through Otay Valley Regional Park, in Chula Vista between Beyer Boulevard and Interstate 805. That area of the park holds a couple lakes with cattail filled shores and lots of dragonflies. I would very much recommend you take the time to just watch a dragonfly as at flies around. They have what seems like an impossible way of flying; they are able to stop and hover on a dime and can even fly backwards. This makes photographing them in flight very difficult because they are impossible to anticipate. The autofocus on my camera could not keep up at all, so I switched to manual focus which was difficult but yielded better photos. My only advice would be to use a small aperture, so you focal range will be as wide as possible.
Airborne Dragonflies Are Not Easy To Photograph
I was amazed at the bright blue color of this particular dragonfly, but it just wouldn’t land. I tracked this one and several others for the better part of an hour and none of them ever landed. That’s why there are only two photos in this post, because these two were the best I was able to do. Dragonflies zip around at all angles and have an instant stop and reverse move that will get you every time.
West Edge Of Otay Valley Regional Park
But I digress; Otay Valley Regional Park is a dragonfly lover’s paradise right now, so head out to west Chula Vista with your bike and enjoy the park. There are bathrooms and drinking fountains on the west side of Beyer Boulevard so you don’t need to brink anything other than your camera. You can walk this park, but it is 100 percent bike friendly so that is what I recommend. I entered the park via the southeast edge of Bayshore Bikeway, near Swiss Park (see map above). It’s a great little oasis in the middle of Chula Vista.
August 20, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut · 1 Comment
Funnel Weaver Spider Hololena sp. Araneae: Agelenidae
As I rode my bike along Bayshore Bikeway, examining the progress of the coastal restoration in the nature preserve that lies along the southern edge of Silver Strand between Imperial Beach and Coronado, I happened across the web of what I believe is a funnel weaver spider (Hololena sp. Araneae: Agelenidae). It was seated in a small hole in the side of a berm, its web spun out horizontally, waiting for lunch to be served. I don’t have a problem with spiders; I just don’t like to be near them. I also don’t have a macro lens; I just have a telephoto. Convenient for me isn’t it?
Coastal Restoration & Dredging Begins
There has been coastal restoration in the form of dredging going on for 5 months and just the other day the levees that separated San Diego Bay proper from the South Bay Biological Study Area were breached by the restoration team. This means if you walk or ride along Bayshore Bikeway at the north end of 7th St. in Imperial Beach, all the water in the nature preserve will ebb and flow with the tides from fresh Pacific Ocean water! I think it will probably turn the intersection of Imperial Beach and Silver Strand into a bird watching Mecca.
Spider Waiting For Lunch
It was a bright, cloudless day but the arachnid was in a shaded burrow so I used the on-camera flash to light the spider up. I had no idea that a spider’s eyes reflect light like cat eyes do but, they do. All other members of a coastal wetland sanctuary food chain benefit from being in the sanctuary, not just the birds and not just the wetlands.
Funnel Weaver Spider
That’s why, in a post where I’m talking about ocean water and birds there are spider pictures; they’re all connected and it was while walking around the preserve I found this spider, which lead to the train of thought that lead to the theme and tone of this post. Deep isn’t it?
Mouseover To See High & Low Tide before Restoration
Move your mouse over the photo above to see the difference between high & low tide in the preserve before the restoration began. If you want to see the amazing work that’s been done in the 5 months since the photos above were taken, you’ll just have to get on your bike, ride Bayshore Bikeway towards Imperial Beach and see for yourself. That blue stripe in the background is the Coronado Bridge which you can bike to using the trail. Along the way you’ll pass the nature preserve, Silver Strand State Beach and Hotel Del Coronado. See? If you are a lover of nature, biking, skating, running, the beach, hotels, Coronado or Imperial Beach, this outing has something for you. Don’t forget to bring your camera so you can include photos when you blog about your fun time. Cheers!
July 1, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
South Bay Power Plant At Golden Hour
Bayshore Bikeway enjoys scenery from two large bodies of water; San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean. In other words, the trail is a perfect place to go for some golden hour, sunrise or sunset photography. The path goes all the way around the bay and even runs between the ocean and the bay for an eight mile stretch along Silver Strand Beach and Coronado Cays. The peninsula that Coronado and Silver Strand sit on creates the western shore of San Diego Bay and is the reason we have a nice, safe harbor for Navy ships and birds. The bay is a bird watcher’s paradise.
My favorite bird watching area is along the southwest portion of Bayshore Bikeway, between Imperial Beach and Silver Strand. California least terns nest in that area during the summer too so bring a bicycle and you’ll be able to cover the entire bay in a day. The southern area is also a nature preserve, so you are just about guaranteed to see birds, small rodents & reptiles and even some dragonflies if you are lucky. Since the path is only for walkers, cyclists and inline skaters, all the scenery and sites along Bayshore Bikeway are uncrowded and have a feeling of exclusivity about them because only people that use their own power get to see them.
Birds Hunting In South Bay San Diego During Golden Hour
Golden hour is that time of day when the sun is very low in the sky, just about to set. The sun is so low that objects and contours on the earth block some of the sun’s light creating areas of shadow that are still bathed in yellow light. This is what we call, golden hour. It also happens to be the time when a lot of birds and other wildlife go hunting so photographically speaking it is a goldmine. If you have taken some landscape photography but weren’t happy with the result, go back and try the same shot again but wait until sunrise or sunset to do it. You have to pay attention to light if you want to make your photography pop.
June 5, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
Looking South At Smuggler’s Gulch
Smuggler’s Gulch, in Border Field State Park, is a small canyon that rests a little more than a mile east of the Pacific Ocean between the border of Mexico and The United States of America. Prior to 2005, it was famous for being an area where illegal aliens and smugglers could easily cross the border into America. Natural geography has most of San Diego County’s international border perched along high ridges or bordering hills and mountains, but flow from the Tijuana River and its tributaries formed a small canyon which people used as a natural pass to smuggle just about anything through. Smuggler’s Gulch was deep enough that Border Patrol radios didn’t work and it was so dangerous that Border Patrol agents were required to patrol the area in teams of at least two.
Smuggler’s Gulch Culvert
Smuggler’s Gulch became famous after 2005 when congress, under the Bush Administration gave The Department of Homeland Security the authority to waive any and all environmental laws, litigations and lawsuits so DHS could build a giant earthen dam across the gulch, on top of which would be built a restricted access paved road, stadium lighting and a new section of border fence. Things like this really are an agitation for our nation and it really galvanized America because it forces people to pick sides that are not representative of who we are as a country or as individuals.
America As Seen From Smuggler’s Gulch
The issues of immigration, environmentalism, border security and racism are all included in this thing which sucks because we are never allowed to position ourselves on the middle ground with things like this; we are only allowed to be for it or against it. The absence of the middle ground means that people in favor of (for example) the new border wall will be perceived as environment hating racists while those opposed are seen as activists that place environmental well being above a person’s, unless that person is entering the US from Mexico illegally.
Looking North From Smuggler’s Gulch
This narrow dialogue makes people think about only one thing and turns people into single issue voters, which are just about the worst kind of voter there is. You know the type, they’re the ones that ONLY want to know one thing about you and that one thing is your position on the latest hot button issue and whether or not your view is in alignment with theirs.
Smuggler’s Gulch Earthen Levy & Mosquito Larvae
So, take all of these issues and emotions, shake them up and a giant earthen levy across a natural flowing canyon is what you get, at least this time. The same ingredients never make the same thing twice which is probably why it takes so damn long to get anything done in this country. Anyway, the video above shows the area of Smuggler’s Gulch in Border Field State Park and all the mosquito larvae that live in the stagnant water in front of it. Cheers!
May 24, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut · 2 Comments
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. I had never been to Chula Vista Nature Center before so it was a fun time of going, doing and seeing something new.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
July 4, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
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.
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.
July 2, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
This yellowjacket wasp was grooming herself when I ran into her. I was taking pictures of some construction in the road when she landed, had a quick bath and left.
June 25, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
Lake Murray – Mission Trails Regional Park
Now that I have been rediscovering my inline skating roots, I am also discovering great places to skate around San Diego. Mission Trails Regional Park – Lake Murray is in La Mesa, CA and is very close to my house. There is an asphalt trail that winds its way around Lake Murray and it is for bikers, skaters and pedestrians only. Awesome! The Alvarado Water Treatment Plant sits along one edge of Lake Murray, and is a restricted area, so the trail is not a loop. That means that it is a 6 mile round trip, and it is worth every bit of it.
Alvarado Water Treatment Plant
As you approach the entrance to the Lake Murray section of the park, you will pass by the Alvarado Water Treatment Plant, which bristles with fences and warning signs. This is one side of the plant, and the other side is actually a dam that is also off limits to park-goers.
Lake Murray – Mission Trails Regional Park
Ducks In Lake Murray
I had never skated this trail before, so my concentration on the terrain and skating technique, not my photography. This path is asphalt, so it will wear down your wheels, especially the front two over the course of the 6 mile skate. There are a few dips and sharp turns, but they are fun, not scary and even a beginner skater will enjoy them. There are only a few sections of the path that are lumpy, but they are short sections and don’t ruin the skate at all.
Weekend Visitors Enjoy Lake Murray
Most of the photos for this post were taken at the far end of the trail that circles most of the way around Lake Murray. The shot above was taken from the very end of the trail, with the camera pointed back across the Lake.
Alvarado Water Treatment Plant And Dam On Lake Murray
This is the view from the OTHER side of Alvarado water treatment plant and the reason for a giant NO TRESPASSING sign at the end of the trail.
Fishing In Lake Murray Mission Trails Regional Park
Mission Trails Regional Park is a great place to skate, and entry to the park is free, so if you haven’t skated the trail around Lake Murray, you really should give it a try. If you go on a weekday, you will have the park to yourself, but on the weekends, the beach areas draw crowds, and the path may have enough (walking) people on it to cause you to have to maneuver, but it’s only the skaters and cyclists that go all the way to the end, so the farther from the entrance you skate, the less people there are.
The End Of Lake Murray’s Skate Path
When you see the sign above, you have reached the end of the path. This is where you can hang out, look at the people across the lake, catch your breath and think about where in San Diego you will skate next.
May 20, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
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
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.
May 8, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
A Cactus In Balboa Park
Just a quick post featuring a cactus in the Old World Garden of Balboa Park, in San Diego. It was broad daylight when I took this pic, but my camera settings seemed to give it a long exposure, nighttime look to it that I thought looked cool. I have a couple other post with photos from Balboa Park, so you should check them out. One post has a great pic of a bee on a flower, and can be seen here.