Sunday, September 15, 2013

Today's walk report: 091513

"Like a whirlpool it never ends"

I was going to mention something about me bitching about the hot weather and I still will. First however I'll mention an incident this morning because something similar happened on March 26, 2012 and if I write it down I have a reference. Oddly enough that last incident was within 50 meters of this one. All of a sudden my left leg swung over to the right, crossing my right leg and causing me to stumble a little and shift off the sidewalk by close to 1 meter. I also felt a little disoriented and immediately was in self-check--arms over head, reciting "she sells sea shells..." Shit like that. It was very brief but I considered turning around and going home. I was less than 500 meters from the garden and figured if I needed to I'd sit down and take inventory there. I also got myself a Gatorade from a vending machine. I seemed fine. This goes back some years. In 2008 I had what I felt was a serious incident with vertigo. It wasn't the 1st time either but it was the most drastic. It resulted in a "sudden loss of hearing" which can better be described as a sudden gain of auditory disturbance. I heard strange noises, almost like frogs croaking from far away, echoing sounds, sounds that seemed like wind rushing through tress--despite it all being in my head. That, after some treatment but most likely past a recovery period, evened out to my hearing testing within a "normal range" despite my having persistent tinnitus ever since. Part of my joy in listening to music on my walks is having the music cancel out the tinnitus. Several years ago I read about a study for treating tinnitus with frequencies that would effectively cancel out the frequencies created by the tinnitus, this makes perfect sense to me. The 1st study I read came out of research in Germany, discussed in this article from the NY Times in 2010, Suppressing Tinnitus With Music Therapy. Another article regarding research out of UC Irvine using low frequencies to filter out high-pitched tinnitus was published here in Science Daily.

Again, an AM walk to try and beat what I really hope is our last heat wave of the summer but probably isn't. Which brings me back to bitching about the heat. I didn't used to do this. For whatever reasons I just can't tolerate high temps like I used to be able to and this house simply does not cool down easily once it gets hot. Last night, for example, this room was 86º without a/c on when it was only 79º outside. Yes, I turned the a/c back on. The other thing, quite recently, is my skin feels sunburn hot even in just mid-80º temps. However, it's cool to the touch. I've Googled the crap out of this and I just think I've become much more sensitive to the heat. I've also been trying to be more than prudent over the use of a/c because of the cost.

Out the door: 7:55 A.M., 72º

Yesterday I mentioned trying to get some "in flight" shots of the Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) mating ritual, coupling included. I saw no coupling today but a lot of activity, most of which appeared to be multiple males vying for the attention of single females. Part of it was the quiet relative today. Even though there were some classes or orientations going on the students stayed near classrooms and away from me... and my little friends. The other part was the sheer amount of activity near the water. Some shots had enough cooperation from the dragonflies for auto focus to happen, others were manually focused.

Meanwhile, this praying mantis (Sphodromantis viridis) could not care less about the mating rituals of the blue dashers. This lovely lady was 2.4 meters inside the pond so that was as close as I could get. I usually try to focus on an insects eyes for single shot images (as opposed to shooting a focus stack). I had a hard time doing that with this mantis.

For comparison, here's a 10 image focus stack of a mantis in my front yard 5 days ago. This was shot from 30 cm. Again, Sphodromantis viridis, female.

Back to the garden... This is the most interesting looking grass skipper butterfly I've seen this summer. Unfortunately I didn't get the shot I wanted with its wings fully open.

This Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) appears to have seen better days but here it is on a mustard plant doing its thing.

Three image panorama of a red-tailed hawk in flight, spooked from a nearby tree by your's truly. Of all the critters I come across on my walks birds of prey remain in a highly regarded class by themselves.

 Looking up into this tree to see if it landed in there somewhere reminded me a little of my earlier "spell."

There was one more, almost home, camera data reads 291 meters. It was up there. The sudden influx of red-tailed hawks got me doing a little research this afternoon on their migratory habits. Their appearance, the recent seagull sightings and also the Anna's hummingbirds all seem to be indicators of the season change around the corner. Hopefully. Fall in Southern California is not like most places in the Northern Hemisphere, it's often like a quickly revolving door into winter. We don't see a change of seasons. We feel hot and then we're not hot.

I don't know where our hawks went during the summer but here is a nutshell summery of what I learned today...
The migratory pattern of red-tailed hawks is complex and varies annually with the weather. Most birds breeding in northern regions migrate southward, remaining there for 3-5 months. However, even in harsh winters some northern birds remain near their breeding territories year-round. Similarly, many mid-latitude (45-50 degrees N) breeding birds remain within or near the breeding range throughout the winter (Preston and Beane 1993), and even northward movements are not uncommon (Brinker and Erdman 1985). Approximately 95% of fall migratory movements at western interior sites occur between 23 August and 2 November (Preston and Beane 1993). Because it is not usually possible to determine the sex of migrant red-tailed hawks, it is not known whether the timing of migration consistently differs between males and females (Preston 2000). However, juveniles generally migrate earlier than adults (Haugh 1972; Geller and Temple 1983).

'Tells me a lot of nothing.

291 meters up there and I have about the same distance to my front door, arriving home 10:10 A.M., 84º. Other than the weirdness it was a really nice walk.

Thanks for joining me on my walk today.


  1. Those are such beautiful pictures. The elderly can't handle the heat as well as others. HUH, I'm elderly? Sometimes I forget.

  2. Thanks Mari. Yes, the line "maybe I'm just getting old" crossed my mind too.