Sunday, August 1, 2021

Today's walk report: 080121

 Every now and again music makes a huge impact on my walks as recently indicated in this Once Upon a Walk Report. Today's playlist wasn't nearly so dramatic. However, it had its moments. 

My garden walks of late have had me driving part way. This all started because of an uncertainty about entering a "closed campus" due to Covid restrictions. Restrictions are pretty lax now but driving onto the campus still seems questionable. I called in May, I asked for permission to be on the grounds. Anyway, out of the car this morning at about 6:20 AM. I'm a little less than 1/2 a mile from the garden. I was feeling stiff getting out of the car but the first song on my phone got me bopping. It was Rebel Yell by Billy Idol. It was what the doctor ordered. Imagine, if you will, a 65 year old dude walking down a sidewalk playing air guitar.

The garden came quickly...

Hummingbird Dusty is reliable.

 It was rather cool and otherwise quiet in the garden so I decided it would be best to take on the dreaded stairs and get some decent exercise. This time I continued onto the other side of the hill. 

This construction had began a few years ago with the grading of the property although there was no indication as to what the development was going to be used for. Well, according to the sign down there it's the "Expanded Automotive Building." This school was originally focused on agriculture and animal husbandry. 

And the cows said, WTF?!

 This dove was so large I thought it was a bird of prey at first glance.

Just behind the campus, it looks like one of the neighbors got a nice project going during Covid shutdown.

Heading down the hill and back toward the car was a song by composer/performer Steven Wilson called "The Raven that Refused to Sing." It's about an 8 minute song. I've heard it many times. However, this was the first time I truly connected with the lyrics. Like other stories about ravens, this raven is an apparition. The raven is the protagonist's sister, who he lost as a child. 

Sister, I lost you,
When you were still a child,
But I need you now,
And I need our former life.
I'm afraid to wake,
I'm afraid to love.

But just because I'm weak,
You can steal my dreams.
You can reach inside my head,
And you can put your song there instead.
Please, come to me.
Please, stay with me.

I wandered in that for several minutes. Then I was distracted and my imagination took over with what I was seeing off in the distance. Imagine this, far away, listening to a song about a soul that manifests inside the body of a raven. My first impression was... this was a raven or a very large crow with a smaller bird on each side. Well, that can't be... right? We don't even have ravens in these parts. As I got closer I realized what I was seeing. 

Cathartes aura, a turkey vulture. This is only the second time I've ever photographed a turkey vulture perched and I've never seen one posed like this.

Correction: This is a black vulture (Coragyps atratus), not a turkey vulture. Apparently these birds are relatively rare to see in California. The closest proximity I’ve seen to Southern California on a distribution map is around Tucson, Arizona.


I don't believe in ghosts but I believe in memories and I believe in the power of stories.
Please get vaccinated if you haven't already done so and if you know someone who you care about who hasn't been vaccinated reason with them to do so... So they don't become a story in your life.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Today's walk report: 073121

 Bright light, almost blinding...

7:00 A.M., sunlight was coming in smacking me right in the face. I can't begin to convey the disappointment I felt being unable to approach this Cooper's hawk (Accipiter cooperii) at a better angle. C'est la vie. I tried.

 Once in the garden, I went straight to look for male Calypte anna hummingbird, "Dusty." As soon as I entered his territory I saw him busy, busy, busy, chasing several Selasphorus rufus hummingbirds off his "lawn." Then he settled down for some photos.

Leaving the garden I noticed this mourning dove perched very close to where the red-tailed hawk was last week.

Hello... have we met before?

"I'm not sure but I don't suppose you have any almonds?"

"How about some whitening toothpaste?"

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Today's walk report: 072521

On yesterday's walk I kept looking for something I couldn't find and have dearly missed seeing throughout my Covid activated confinement. Ever since I felt some confidence in being fully incubated post my second vaccination shot, when I reinstated walks on May 8th, I kept looking to the skies... where the flying frick were all the birds of prey? As much as I love to take pictures of hummingbirds and butterflies I really missed sightings of raptors. Well, today I finally got a good show.

But first...

Sunrise reflecting on roses as I headed toward the garden. Not fragrant in the least mind you. Who thought it was a good idea to breed the scent out from roses? There's a rose bush along the walkway to the front door here. The bush is probably 67 years old and its flowers smell heavenly. I plan to attempt propagating some cuttings soon.

Yesterday, in comments, Trey suggested this male Calype anna hummingbird be given a name and coincidentally I was thinking earlier about when and where I have named hummingbirds. Trey came up with the name "Dusty," perhaps a nod to the famous Selasphorus sasin I once named, Rusty. Anyway, here's Dusty...

I headed past the southern grape arbor and noticed the grapes are significantly more grape in color since I last took a photo.

I wanted to check on this little fellow. I took some pictures of this monarch larva on narrowleaf milkweed (A. fascicularis) yesterday and was a little disturbed by the milkweed aphids which are omnipresent but I don't typically see them on the caterpillars. Today there were fewer and the caterpillar looked healthy. 

Then I looked up. Oh joy!

A juvenile red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) just waiting for me. You're gonna get a bunch of pictures because I was excited.

I followed its movement until it flew away.

 The hawk took me well outside of the garden so I decided to head home.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Today's walk report: 072421

 You again!

A short walk, lots of stairs, little to say and a few pictures.

Sun obscured by clouds.

The "you again" comment explained. This is the same male Calypte anna hummingbird I posted photos of in my last report, July 11th.

 Yep. I'm leaving too.

 Good for me on the walk and I didn't EVEN lose my car key. I did however smell a tad like Murphy Oil Soap (pure vegetable).