Saturday, September 25, 2021

Today's walk report: 092521

 Dusty's back!

Another fine morning walk and talk with Doc. Upper 50ºs to low 60ºs it was a beautiful morning in the garden and around the campus.

Here are the pictures...

Female Calypte anna hummingbird. Yo Dusty, over here!

 Male Calypte anna, Dusty, was back to owning his regular territory.

Some Canada geese (Branta canadensis) flew overhead at the top of the hill. 

Up the hill and back down red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) were plentiful. I saw five.

 As I moved closer, the moment the bird became aware of me.

Shortly after these shots the hawk flew off to the other side of the road and I heard one long, loud screech. I was able to make out another bird in the distant trees as a squabble ensued but I wasn't able to capture any pictures of the two birds together. This is where the incident occurred and this shot was taken after the other bird flew off. I believe this is the red-tailed I was originally taking pictures of. I know it's not a great shot, the bird is in the center of the frame. Tip: viewing this blog on a decent computer monitor or smart TV is a better experience than a mobile device.

Before it took position as victor in the squabble it flew across to some trees a short hop west of the trees in the image above. Less than a minute later it went back and the bickering continued.


Behind me there had been another red-tailed perched atop a tree about 80 yards from the first bird. I turned to see if it was still there. Yep... In retrospect, I should have spent a little more time with this bird but it was still pretty far away.

Here's the bird that finally flew off, leaving the quarrel, heading north. The original hawk took off a couple of minutes later heading east.

That's it! I thought it was fun. I've never seen hawks of any combination have a disagreement before. Thanks for joining in.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Today's walk report: 091821

Walk, Doc, talk and a hawk.

I drove to the campus again because I could and because I've had an on-off headache for two days. I figured after some relief from what I was going through at 2 AM I deserved a break. It was still early, less than 30 minutes past sunrise. When I got out of the car I decided to call Docken. Ring, Ring... hello, good morning, this is your wake up call, I'm sorry to disturb you but I thought perhaps you might want to pay attention to your circadian cycle and wake up... Huh, I should do what now, you say?

No, no, no... It was a nice chat and it went on all the way home and beyond.

And look who was waiting for me the moment I stepped onto the dirt path leading into the garden. Good thing too because this was my only photo-op throughout the walk. I'm attributing the general lack of activity to cooler mornings. It was 52º to 58º from start to end.

This is a juvenile Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii). I've seen Cooper's hawks perched atop fences before but never so low as this bench. Again, this is all I got, so you get several pictures. The background plant is Eriogonum fasciculatum, aka, California buckwheat.

As much as I tried I was in a poor position to get a decent in flight shot. Either the bird was flying directly at me or was almost immediately behind something. That's it for today. Now excuse me while I relax and float downstream.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Today's walk report: 091121

Another Saturday visit to the local botanical garden and get this... no pictures. Seriously, I got nothing and I hung out for quite some time. Sure there was a shot or two of the Drimia maritima (Sea Squill) but they were no better than the pictures I took of the plant last week. In fact they were about same, under the same lighting conditions. Male Anna hummingbirds, Dusty and Not Dusty were no where to be found. I saw no hummingbirds, I saw very few birds, period. No rabbits, not even a ground squirrel. It's like all the critters got the day off, or something. 

So... I'm going to use this time and space for something slightly different. A little more like a "Once Upon a Walk Report” with a detour. The detour was a photo "contest" I recently entered into with 9 photos. It was sponsored by a company both Docken and I have bought a significant amount of wildflower seeds from called, High Country Gardens (HCG). They also own another company (they seem pretty much a mirror of each other) called, American Meadows. Just to give you an idea of how much seed I'm talking about, here's a picture of our order from 2014. Those bags range from 1/4 lb to 1 lb. This order was from American Meadows. Granted, this was the largest order placed from here, over $200. I can't find the receipt. Anyway, bona fide customer, not that it matters?

After a delay of a week in HCG posting the contest finalists I got an email yesterday announcing the selected images. I wasn't one of them. I won't hide any sour grapes but let it also be known my general perception of photo contests. I think they are typically either a scam (usually in the form of an entrance fee) or there's some sort of inherent favoritism. I don't enter photo contests for these reasons. However, top prize here was a $100 gift certificate and it just so happens, shipping included I am planning to spend about that shortly before any fall/winter rains (fingers crossed) show up. Saving $100 is actually a much bigger deal for me than I wish it was. Okay, that's my bitch section but I also thought I'd get some mileage out of the images I selected and post them here. Remember this is basically a commercial for a seed/gardening company. I'll post a link to the contest finalists at the end of this post. Here are my images... I might have one or two of these mixed up because I'm still bopping between computers and sometimes I confuse myself. 

These were definitely the first three, you could only submit three at a time. 

The second submission is the one I'm not entirely sure about but it was either these three or resonable facsimilies. 

EDIT... I think this photo may have been used instead of one of the two above.

And these were the final three. 

Here's the HCG finalist page for people to vote on their favorite. I am planning to vote for one of the images but I'll keep my vote private.


Saturday, September 4, 2021

Today's walk report: 090421

Another stroll in the garden and a schlep up the steps.

I drove onto the campus this time. All gates were open and the electronic freeway style sign boldly displayed, No Parking Passes Needed. This is a first since the Covid lock down in March of 2020. It also meant I should probably anticipate more human activity than I have recently. Arrival time was early, I figured I had at least an hour.

Male Calypte anna hummingbird, Dusty was once again pursuing his nemesis from last week, another male Calypte anna I call, Not Dusty. First, here's Dusty.

  and this is Not Dusty.

 I started to leave the garden and head for the stairs and then remembered I had spotted this Drimia maritima (Sea Squill) on the way in and thought the light would be better a short while later so I backtracked.

Next the schlep to the stairs, up, up, up and over to the other side, on my way back to the parking lot. Then, wonderful... please stay put.

Back on the first of August I had confused a black vulture (Coragyps atratus) with a turkey vulture (Cathartes aura). Best I can figure I'm about 450 miles outside the range of a black vulture. Anyway, this is indeed a turkey vulture. Once again, I was walking into the sun and as I was making a effort to get on the other side of the bird, it turned to face me. It was very aware of me in that moment. This is a lot of bird, length: 25 inches wingspan: 72 inches.

And so ends my story for the day.