Sunday, April 23, 2017

Today's walk report: 042317, intruder alert!

A beautiful Sunday A.M. walk. We went to see "our babies" and it was a good thing. At least we think it was. When we got to the pond we found mama duck splayed out on the ground with a look of concern in her eyes. It was for good reason. On the other side of the pond a  Great Egret  (Ardea alba) stood and it appeared as though the ducklings were on its mind. Egrets are known to eat a ducking whole. Well, everywhere you look in the urban jungle there's human intervention and a rather large human male wasn't going to have this bird threatening our ducks, so I chased it off.

The intruder.
Mom protecting her babies.

After the coast was clear.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy Earth Day 2017

This is an image I created in 2012. I thought it was appropriate for today, Earth Day 2017. Please take care of her, she's the only planet we've got. Resist.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Today's walk report: 042117, Breaking News!!

We're grandparents! Well, sort of...

If you have followed this blog even modestly you probably know by now of our affection for a pair of ducks we've come to know well. So well, in fact, that we ended up naming them after ourselves in 2014. Backtracking, so far, the earliest photos I have of these ducks were taken in February, 2013. Yesterday we took a walk sans cameras to the pond with the intention of feeding and visiting "our" ducks. If you take issue with this let me point something out. These are "urban" ducks, they get fed all sorts of crap by humans. We feed them on occasion and we feed them duck food. A year ago the male duck had a seriously injured leg. He could not get out of the water and walk and we're certain our feeding him helped in his recovery. Many people who know ducks call mallards such as these, domestic mallards. Only two species of ducks have been domesticated: the Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and the Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata). Anyway, yesterday our female, Docken duck, swam over to my girl, Docken human, along with 8 cute as can be ducklings!

Today we went back early in the A.M. with cameras and got some pictures. We're sure to get a lot more in the days to come.












About 15 minutes in daddy duck Eric showed up and apparently he was randy to start another clutch. Hey, it's nature but it's not a pretty sight. It only went on for about one minute.


After that dad struts his stuff....



and mom appears a bit disoriented...


She also has a thing or two to say about the ordeal...



but soon realized it was time to go back to being a mom...


while dad just watches on...


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Today's walk report: 040117, butterflies are...

... few. If you were able to date yourself far back enough and were thinking "free", nope, that's not the case. If you're environmentally aware you may know of the 90% decline of monarch butterflies that has taken place over the past 20 years but I'm here to say that monarchs are not the only concern. In just the 5 years I've been back in this part of SoCal I've seen a decline in everything from common grass skippers to swallowtails, mourning cloaks (Nymphalis antiopa), Vanessa atalanta, Vanessa cardui, Gulf fritillary, monarchs (Danaus plexippus), Leptotes marina and Pieris rapae. There's probably a few others that aren't coming to mind. When I think back some 45 years (or so) to my childhood the butterfly population situation is downright depressing. Today the concern is higher than ever with a Presidential cabinet that appears hellbent on destroying the environment (and a lot more).

Sigh.

Yesterday while watering in our backyard I was able to put aside the above stated reality for awhile and take in the joy of this lovely lady (I'm pretty sure this is a female) and a perfect specimen at that. We have two 6'+ (2 meter) pride of Madeira (Echium candicans) subshrubs that are flowering heavily and this Papilio rutulus, aka, the western tiger swallowtail was enjoying them immensely. In fact I was able to get 974 shots off during her 17 minute stay.










Our walk took place shortly after this wonderful event but no cameras were in play. PS, we saw "our" ducks again (read back one post)!

040117...

No April fools jokes but rather a peaceful morning walk to our nearby garden hang. 

Right outside the front door.

Papaver rhoeas and a little insect.
This was the only butterfly I saw in the garden and this story doesn't have a happy ending.





It was still cool at the time I took my last pictures of this Vanessa atalanta and it wasn't very active for that reason. The situation allowed a lot of picture taking. I was changing out a close-up lens on a nearby bench and suddenly I saw a sparrow sized bird fly right over this spot on the ground. When I went back to look seconds later the butterfly was gone. I didn't see the catch but it didn't look good for the butterfly.

Hummingbirds were mostly chasing each other so there weren't too many photo ops on that front but there was this...

Female Calypte anna on Grevillea sericea.
and both my girl and I had a "that was fun" moment while sitting on a bench taking photos of our friend "not Rusty" (again, if you don't get it read back a post or two).





That's all folks. Thanks again for coming along!


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Today's walk report: 031217, these are not the ducks you're looking for

I was completely out for a few weeks with a sciatica issue and the flu. The two complemented each other in an excruciating way. I am so glad to have been back out with my wonderful girl taking pictures today.
These are not the ducks you're looking for...

One of the pleasures my Docken and I have missed most on the outside during our bouts with the flu were "our ducks" (look back a few posts and you'll see) who we named after us because they remind us of ourselves. Well, I think we'll see them again but on our last few trips out we've been greeted by another pair of mallards. We believe we saw our ducks fly overhead just as we were arriving last week only to find these two in their place.

Not Docken Duck.
Not Eric Duck.
Nevertheless, they got duck food but we miss our ducks.

Here's another changing of the guard. My last post,  Today's walk report: 012217, featuring Rusty, was erroneous. That wasn't Rusty at all. It was an imposter. I knew a week or two earlier that there was another male Allen's hummingbird about but I followed this ones patterns and thought it had to be Rusty. As it turned out this little fellow was chasing Rusty.

Imitation Rusty, male Selaphorus sasin.
And here's Rusty taken on Feb. 10th...


I'm pretty sure I can tell the difference now. I did not see Rusty today but then I only saw 3 hummingbirds. The other two were a male and a female Calypte Anna that were rather evasive. Three hummingbirds in a one acre garden on a beautiful warm day is rather odd but we also didn't stay long.

Whilst looking for hummingbirds, this guy almost hit me in the nose flying by...

Gray bird grasshopper (Schistocerca nitens).

Alyogyne huegelii.
We have an Alyogyne huegelii bush in our front yard too. It's done quite well with the recent SoCal rains. It's taken almost 4 years to really get going but it's not in the most hospitable location. The daisies in the background are Dimorphotheca sinuata.


Back to the walk and also in full bloom and quite majestic, Acacia boormanii, aka, snowy river wattle.


We decided to take our stroll a little past the garden to make it more of a walk and passed the campus sundial. Today is the first day of daylight saving time. The shadow was pretty much spot on, this photo was taken at 11:25 DST. I'll also note it says, Daylight Savings Time, with a "s". I learned last night that Daylight Savings Time is a misspelling, but its use is more common than the correct term.



Back home. The first scarlet flax (Linum grandiflorum) are blooming in the front yard. This is one of my favorite flowers to photograph here in the spring. By the way, the Spring Equinox is still 8 days away and right now it feels more like summer with the current afternoon temp being 91ยบ F.


 Thanks again for coming along. It was great to be able to go out and do this!