stuff and things

03 August 2011

Is That a Horse?

Driving up to our first visit to San Elijo Lagoon (yes, we're both from San Diego and have never known about the walks, the visitor's center, the wildlife) ... we saw this as we looked left from I-5 to Fiesta Island:
Forty or so horses, complete with elegant trailers and other transportation, cooled off at Fiesta Island.
I'm like, "Is that a horse?" We soon saw many more, maybe 40 horses in all. We headed west to circle Fiesta Island, like all of San Diego's Mission Bay a man-made heap and channels carved into native estuary, but recently created from what was once, long ago in the '50's, a dump site. Long before that, Mission Bay more resembled the salt-marsh, estuarine environment of Famosa Slough. (We naughty San Diego kids still call Fiesta Island "Fester Island.")

Being me and endlessly curious, I got out of the car (parking far away from the horses, who are prey animals and very skittish [no duh!]), and asked if there was a special event going on. As it turned out, people bring their horses to this area all the time, to cool them off. Most horses here live in East San Diego county, where it gets hot ... poor guys.

Stay cool! Hugs,
Tina in San Diego

01 August 2011

The Bird is the Word

Gentle reader, I'm sorry to have left you for so long with such a cranky previous post, but we've been dabbling in birdwatching! When our drive back from Asilomar this spring yielded sightings of more than 30 species and images like those below, our excitement about birds was kindled. Indeed, bird, bird, b-bird is the word!
American Black Oystercatcher, Pt. Lobos, CA, taken through binoculars by Andy.


Cormorant and chicks, unidentified, Pt. Lobos (also taken via binoculars by Andy).

After arriving home, we ordered a Peterson's Field Guide to Birds of Western North America, and a birding basics book (Sibley). It's been a whirlwind of feathered friends ever since. Since June 25th, we've photographed and listed 30 species in our little pocket Life List book. This probably does not count as astronomical among more experienced birders, but we're having fun. And, as the minuscule progress on my quilt shows, we're getting out a lot more -- a good thing.
At least 30 such Great Egret nests in a huge eucalyptus tree, at Lindo Lake, Lakeside (Andy).
A fun aspect about birding is that you can combine it with photography, sound recording, sketching, hiking, and even quilting -- just about any of your other interests. (Okay, Andy: maybe not extreme cooking.) So when a Big Birthday rolled around for Andy recently, he treated himself to a digital SLR camera and a nice zoom lens -- no more need to shoot through binoculars with my humble point-and-shoot.
We spotted this poor Budgie, an outcast among a huge flock of sparrows, near Dog Beach.
My favorite part of birding is coming home, hooking camera to TV, and viewing some beautiful birds close-up. Being such rank beginners, being able to look at our images and then consult our bird books means an easier time of I.D.'ing the sometimes maddeningly similar sub-species. Fortunately, the little guy tagging along with the sparrows, above, was pretty easy to identify! And no, at this point, we won't even attempt to I.D. the sparrow. There's gazillions!

Another fun aspect of birdwatching is meeting nice people. We recently drove to the nearby San Diego River Least Tern nesting area, just east of Dog Beach, where we met Brian, also photographing birds. We were facing away from the river, above, when he said, "Look, a Skimmer!" Andy managed to get some shots in what was by then very low light, but we probably wouldn't have seen our first Skimmer without Brian's cue.
A Black Skimmer, unique with a bigger lower beak than upper, skims for a fish (low light, Andy).
Finally, our new hobby gets us out to the most beautiful places. I've always considered La Jolla's Seven Caves coast walk, perched high above La Jolla bay, a personal sanctuary. So we were thrilled to find that it's also a wonderful sanctuary to our local and migrant birds.
After Andy captured this scene, this Western Gull flew off and its mate landed with a fishy meal for the chicks. Unfortunately, the anchovy was way too big for the little ones. Try again, Pops!
As with all of my photos here, feel free to click on them to get closer-up. I hope you're having fun this summer, too! Hugs and love.