Saturday, December 29, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

As we're nearing the end of 2012, I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas.  I believe that this day is important because we are reminded that God sent his Son, Jesus, to show Their great love for each of us, individually.  My prayer for you this Christmas Season is that you would be blessed in a real, tangible way that you alone would personally recognize.  A blessing that would give you peace and you would know that you know, that you know that you were blessed beyond measure.

On the evening of Christmas Day, I accompanied my son, daughter-in-law, and their children to Redondo Beach (near Los Angeles, CA).  On the next evening, my son drove his family and me to the Sleepy Hollow neighborhood in Torrance in which a friend lives.  As we entered the first block, we were met with small white Christmas tree bulbs draped over almost every bough of every tree in each yard.  It was a beautiful sight.  Actually, it was like driving through an arbor.  Each property owner, while matching the draping light effect of their neighbors, decorated the rest of the yard in unique ways.  My son and daughter-in-law's friend had little figures of Dalmatians on their lawn. The displays were varied from candy canes to inflated Frosty the Snowmen, as well as other characters.  Although most decorations were too numerous to remember, one house had a strikingly beautiful Nativity scene.  Another had a Ferris Wheel bedecked with lights.  As we drove around, we must have covered 6 or 8 blocks.  Apparently, the residents of this neighborhood been decorating their homes  for years.  While we drove around, I wondered it they had planning meetings during the year with some residents adding more decorations year after year.  I don't know the answer to that.  We were there around 6 p.m. so we avoided what I've read to be a traffic tie-up.  I think that walking would provide even more enjoyment.  While I've seen some beautifully decorated houses over the years, this is the first time I've seen what appears to be a concerted community-effort, providing joy to others.  An Internet search on Sleepy Hollow Christmas Lights in Torrance CA will display 2011 pictures of the event.

Last weekend I returned to Famosa Slough.  Below is a photo of a Herring Gull flying over a Western Gull.  When I lived on the East Coast, I thought a seagull was just that.  However, I'm now learning about the different species.  As I've mentioned in an earlier post, I identify the birds by research on the Internet.  In the second photograph is a gull taking off....just can't identify it.


I did spot a few Gadwalls.  Then, all at once, they took off.  I was able to get a photograph of one in flight (shown below on the left).  Someday, I'll get a Canon Digital SLR and then, I'll have more success since I love to take photos of birds as they take off.  The Great Egret is included (below right) because of its lovely reflection.

Gadwall in flight

Great Egret

 Happy New Year!

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Monday, December 10, 2012


Since I returned from my New York visit, I've been walking/jogging 3 miles a day, as well as occasionally walking up long hills in neighboring Ocean Beach.  The long hills are preparing me to reach the top of Mt Beacon in New York on my next visit.  To improve my daily diet, I've been using the Nutribullet since July of this year.  Although I always ate my vegetables and some fruit, I never had a great amount.  I was intrigued by the Nutribullet ads on TV, so I decided to try it.  I'm providing a link to the Nutribullet because I believe so much in this product.   Every day now, I have a drink made with fresh veggies, such as kale, spinach, and/or carrots, as well as fresh or frozen strawberries, blueberries, or cherries, and 1/2 a banana.  To this I add almonds, walnuts and flax seeds.  I use a 24 oz container supplied with the Nutribullet, varying the fruits.  I think it's great.   Nutribullet Superfood Nutrition Extractor (Google Affiliate Ad) 

On one of my recent walks, I noticed some fresh green blossoms dropping from some of the trees I pass on my daily trek.   At first, I thought that some small birds were causing them to drop.  At any rate, the falling of these blossoms made me think of spring.  On another block, I have to do a hop, skip and a jump to avoid dried up leaves (of a different kind of tree) on the sidewalk.  Then, one day at my daughter's house, I noticed birds in nests previously populated by other birds all summer.  The original inhabitants had moved out after their babies were ready to leave the nest.  The silence was deafening.  Now the yard is again a harbor for song.  Possibly, the new birds have just migrated for the winter.  However, the changes in the trees got me wondering if this year, San Diego has such a good climate that it may have two spring seasons.  Some years, we have cold days with heavy rains between November and February.  Thankfully for me and my exercise, this is a pleasant winter.

On my recent walk to the Famosa Slough, there were some migrating ducks.  I was looking for a bird I had not seen before.  After looking at the "regulars" I was ready to leave the property.  Then, I spotted just such a bird.  After I took the photo, I left the property.   A computer search for the name of the bird got me nowhere, so I sent an e-mail to someone I believed could identify it.  He responded that it was a "Say's Phoebe."   Thanks, Ray.

Say's Phoebe

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Saturday, October 27, 2012


After my climb at Mt. Beacon in New York, I decided I needed to practice climbing hills here in San Diego.  The seaside town next to my home has just those type of hills, so I walked to Ocean Beach, which I consider to be an eclectic community and worth a visit.  It has residential streets that run East from the beach through the business area to the top of a ridge and continue down into Point Loma.  On the way, along West Point Loma Boulevard towards the Famosa Slough, I noticed a Snowy Egret up in a tree one block short of the Slough (bird refuge).  See photo below. 

As I neared the entrance of the Slough (West side), I checked out a large tree where I had seen a Night Heron in late August.  As I looked up, there it was.  Of course, I had to take a look to see what other shore birds I might see.  Near the reeds in the Slough, I spotted what might be a juvenile Black-Crowned Night Heron.

Black-Crowned Night Heron

Black-Crowned Night heron

Juvenile Night Heron

When I reached the town of Ocean Beach, I embarked on the hill.  I don't know how high I walked, but it was quite a climb.  After my uphill walk, I made my way down the local streets until I reached the Famosa Slough.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that I hadn't missed the bird migration.  Swimming near the front of the East side of the Slough, were two Western Grebes with strikingly long white necks.  I always hope to see a bird I haven't seen before, so this filled the bill, no pun intended.

Western Grebe

Western Grebes
A Bevy of Terns
I was happy to see killdeers but they were too far away to get a good photo  They have two stripes across their chests, giving the appearance that they are wearing sweaters.  Hearing an abrupt flutter,  I turned to see a flock of terns taking off.  In another part of the Eastern side of Famosa Slough (near West Point Loma Blvd.) I saw a group of Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets, as well as a Great Blue Heron.  An aloof Night Heron was posted on the incline it was overseeing the group.  Except for a few Snowy Egrets, they were all getting along.  I've previously observed that Snowy Egrets are very territorial.   In the two years I've been visiting the Slough, this is the first time I've seen this many so close together.

Check out the wingspan
Thus, I concluded my enjoyable three hour walk.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

October Jaunts

I just returned from New York after meeting my beautiful and newest granddaughter.  Since I have three daughters in the area, I moved from house to house weekly.  This gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in family activities and spend time with the grandchildren.  It also, hopefully, provided the families with some semblance of normalcy, as their company (me) was not around all the time.  I took the following picture in my daughter's yard in Beacon.

Rainbow from the sprinkler

With the warm summer in New York, Fall seemed arrive later than usual.   In Fishkill, the tree below was striking as its colors changed from the top down.

In Beacon, the Blue Jays had arrived and seemingly taken over.

On October 6 (Columbus Weekend, I went with my LaGrange daughter and her husband to Hunter Mountain to the October Fest.  We had rain.   After examining the venders' wares, we stepped outside to see the mist over the Mountain.  Then, as the skies started to clear, I caught the sun showing through the heavy clouds.

Hunter Mountain, NY
Hunter Mountain, NY

The next day, I accompanied my Beacon daughter and her family to Belleayre Mountain (photo below) for their Columbus Day celebration.  The whole family met there and we all enjoyed checking out the sales of the vendors, as well as the food.  I enjoyed walking part way up one of the trails with my 15 year old grandson.

Belleayre Mountain, NY

During my seven week visit, I took some walks in Beacon and LaGrange,  returning to the Rail Trail in LaGrange.   While on weekends the lane has a good amount of walkers and bikers, during the week, it is quieter.  I was disappointed that I didn't see deer in the woods.  I did see one while I was driving.  A deer poked its head out of a line of bushes on the side of the road, but thankfully didn't come out any further.  With the deer surrounded by greenery, it would have been a great photo op.

I was also able to visit the Walkway over the Hudson State Historic Park.  The Walkway's website states that "it is the longest pedestrian bridge in the world." (   It was built on top of an old abandoned railroad bridge, which spanned the Hudson River from Poughkeepsie to Highland.  It had been damaged by fire in 1974.   You can check out its interesting history by looking up the "Poughkeepsie Bridge" on Wikipedia.  If you use the parking lot near the Eastern entrance on 9G in Poughkeepsie, there is a charge of $5.00.  There is another parking lot at Pulaski Park on Washington Street.  This lot is free, but you will have to climb about three levels of stairs to get to the Walkway.  Either way, your walk should be quite enjoyable.

On my last weekend in New York, my grandson accompanied me up Mount Beacon, which is about 1,500 feet high.  He chose the Hemlock Gorge trail.  My grandson judged this trail to be easier for me as opposed to the fire road we took last year.   However, to me it was a rock filled creek with runoff from the mountain in several spots making it slippery.  We managed to get up about 750 feet with him holding my hand and helping me over some large fallen logs.  I think he developed more arm muscles that day.  To our left, as we climbed, was a lovely creek with waterfalls. We decided to end our trek, as the path was narrowing.  We thought we'd have to cross the creek on some rocks, which I was not prepared to do.  Even though we were deeply in the woods, I tried to take some pictures because the colors were beautiful.   As we descended the mountain, I thought the reflection of the tree line on the pond near the Water Tank was beautiful. 


I haven't made it up to the top of Mt. Beacon, yet.  If you look at the Scenic Hudson website, you can see the awesome view of the Hudson Valley that I want to see personally.  I'll try again next year.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fall in NY

Two Butterflies
Butterfly in Fishkill NY near Hudson River

The Butterfly bush in Fishkill, NY, had more visitors.  Quite lovely and enjoyable to view.

 I spotted a Great Blue Heron during a walk at Long Dock Park in Beacon, NY on the Hudson River.  Catching it in a graceful flight was gratifying.

Great Blue Heron near Long Dock in Beacon, NY

A neighbor of my daughter's in Beacon has a bird station where I saw a Red-bellied Woodpecker (lower left).  Treading softly on the "Rail Trail" in LaGrange helped me photograph a Black-capped Chickadee (lower right).

On September 30, I attended the Spirit of Beacon Parade.  Various organizations, as well as the schools marched.  The marchers, in photo to the left, were dressed beautifully in their colorful gowns.  As I walked along the parade route, I spotted a happy crowd encircling a stage, waiting to hear Pete Seeger sing.  The parade was enjoyed by many residents.

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Wildlife in Dutchess County


When I arrived at my daughter and son-in-law's new home, they told me that there was a "Butterfly" bush in the back yard. As I rushed out to take pictures, my daughter told me that there was no rush as the butterflies come and go to the bush all day long. She was soooo right.

As I have three daughters in the area, I move from house to house so as to visit with each daughter individually.  This gives me the opportunity to spend more time with the children of each family.  It gives me time to attend at least one of their soccer games.  Actually, in two of the families, the "children" are teenagers.

There is a new baby with an active two year old in the third family, so I try be more available for them.  On one of these visits, we drove to Stoney Kill Farm near their home in Wappingers Falls.   I was looking for birds but there weren't any to be seen.  As we neared the Manor House, we spotted what I think was a Red-tailed Hawk, possibly a juvenile since only part of the tail was red.  I've read that juveniles start out with a white tail that turns red as they mature.

Red-tailed Hawk

I'm looking forward to walking the trails in Stoney Kill Farm, which is on 9D in Wappingers Falls, NY.  I advise checking out their website.

After changing houses to LaGrange, I walked on the Rail Trail north of Gold's Gym and found wild turkeys, not far from Titusville Road.  It seemed like there were nine or ten turkeys that quickly hid themselves in tall ground cover.   I was tempted to follow them to get a better picture, but the turkeys had entered private property and I wasn't about to do that.  Alas....woe is me.

 There are more trails to walk and I look forward to what I might find on them. 

 Meanwhile, fall is coming.

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Thursday, August 30, 2012


Brown Pelican fishing for lunch at Fasmosa Slough

My life has been fairly quiet this summer, so I've attached some photographs of birds I've taken at the Famosa Slough and, of butterflies in my daughter's back yard in Clairemont (a neighborhood in San Diego.)  Please note that I'm a beginner, when it comes to nature.  After carefully matching my photos to those of others on the Internet, I've added captions under each.

Western Kingbird

Western Kingbird

Gulf Fritillary in Clairemont, San Diego, CA
  I searched the Internet for hours looking for a match to the photograph of the butterfly to the left.  It has such a distinctive head, I believed that somewhere there might be a photo.   Then, last night, as I reviewed another group of pictures of butterflies.  There was the match I was looking for, a Gulf Fritillary.

Fiery Skipper at Famosa Slough

Monarch in Clairemont, San Diego CA

Same Monarch with open wings

Black-crowned Night Heron

After hearing other bird watchers speak about the Black-crowned Night Heron, I've been looking for it for quite some time.  When I finally spotted the bird yesterday as I walked near the Famosa Slough, it seemed like I was the one being watched.

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