Sunday, February 19, 2012

Famosa Slough

Female Belted Kingfisher
This past Thursday I walked to the Famosa Slough, a bird refuge not far from my home in San Diego.  I've occasionally visited there to check out the shore birds, but it had been several months.  That afternoon, I was fortunate to spot a colorful bird, Female Belted Kingfisher, pictured above.

Little Blue Heron
On Saturday morning, I went back to see if I could get a better picture.  There was no Belted Kingfisher to be seen.  However, I did find a Little Blue Heron.

I picked up a flyer at the kiosk and found that a walking tour would be held at 1pm.  I usually take pictures and compare pictures on the Internet to identify a bird I don't know.  A walking tour would be so much better since I can show a picture and have an experienced birdwatcher identify it. So, I returned to the Slough at 1pm and joined the tour.  The leader had a scope on a tripod and invited the attendees to view various birds that she identified.  Some birds were regulars, but others just passing through.  Some of the attendees were speaking with the tour leader about San Diego having the most birds in the country.  She agreed, but then added that the expansiveness of San Diego County plays a part since if covers the shoreline all the way to the inland mountains.

The leader pointed out the different species of ducks, as well as the American Avocets and the Black-necked Stilt.  I was familiar with them, but some of the ducks were new to me.  They traveled so fast, I just couldn't get a good picture of them.  I did succeed with a striking black and white duck I had seen on Thursday, but had not been able to get close enough for a good picture.  The tour leader told us it was a Bufflehead,  not a regular at the slough.  The picture I took during the tour is below.


The tour leader also pointed out an American Kestrel and some killdeer.  We looked at them through the scope.  The killdeer is the cutest bird with stripes around its neck and chest making it look like it's wearing a sweater.  I wasn't close enough to get pictures, but I'll work on that.  The walking tour, covering 37 acres, with the opportunity to ask questions, look in the scope, and take pictures, lasted two hours.  The free tour is held monthly by the Friends of Famosa Slough and is definitely worth it thanks to a excellent leader and beautiful birds. 

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

911 Memorial

On February 1, I went to the 911 Memorial at the World Trade Center.  I obtained a Visitor's Pass at  in mid-January.  Friends who had visited gave me the impression that it would be hard to get passes, but that wasn't the case.  Thankfully, the weather was rather mild for New York.

After going through screening, we followed a long path to the entry of the Memorial which consists of a large open park-like area with two very large pools with constantly running water forming waterfalls within the pools.  Around each pool, the names of everyone we lost on September 11, 2001 and, of those lost in the attack of February 26, 1993, were etched into the stone wall.  The names weren't in alphabetic order, so there are kiosks available to locate the name of someone you knew.

I read in Wikipedia that the design was named "Reflecting Absence."  I certainly felt that absence.

After leaving, on the way to the subway, a self-appointed ambassador engaged us in conversation.  He asked me how many buildings had been on the World Trade Center site.  I promptly said, "Seven."  Then, he related how a teacher with a group of school-age children didn't know that fact.  That is why I recommend visiting the 911 Memorial when you are in New York City to perhaps get a sense of the enormity of September 11, 2001 and pray for the families and friends of those killed on that day.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Return to San Diego

 On Saturday evening, I returned to San Diego on JetBlue.  Thankfully, the flight wasn't full and the seat next to mine was empty, so I had a more comfortable ride.  I have not been a fan of JetBlue since I received, in my opinion, an insulting response to an email I sent them several years ago.  This time, I used their airline solely because the fare was the cheapest I could find.  This time though, the staff was exemplary, and in my opinion, more mature.

Yesterday, when I went out outside, I found that I was dressed too warmly.  Checking the Weather Channel made me realize that I wasn't in New York anymore.  The temperature was a sunny 71 degrees.  Wahoo!!!  Please keep in mind that I was grateful for the mild winter I experienced in New York this year.

As usual, my stays in New York are busy and fun-filled.  I enjoyed visiting with my daughters and their families.  The grandchildren are taller than me, that is, except the eleven year old (who's almost there) and of course, the one year old.  Time seems to go faster on the East Coast, with busy families who generously include me in their daily comings and goings, and meeting with long-time friends.  And, it was a great experience displaying my photography at the Poughkeepsie Barnes and Noble store.

I was fortunate to be able to visit the 911 Museum at the new World Trade Center, which I'll write about soon.  Unfortunately, I haven't reconciled the feelings I had as I walked around that "hallowed" ground.

The day before I flew to San Diego, I joined my daughters and the eleven year old granddaughter in walking along Canal Street in lower New York City checking out the vendors, and then, into SOHO (a trendy and expensive downtown shopping area).  
The old buildings were very interesting.  I always enjoy walking around the New York City viewing the mixture of very old and very new buildings. In this area, many old buildings were shrouded with fire escapes (certainly a necessary life saving addition.)    The photograph on the right shows a different and unexpected type of fire escape, which I think is reminiscent of New Orleans.
We enjoyed our lunch at Fanelli's on Prince Street.  I usually don't order a spaghetti dish for lunch, but the linguini with Pesto ($12.00) was delicious.  This building has housed a small restaurant since 1847 with the Fanelli's taking it over in 1922.  I attempted to photograph the front doors, which were very interesting.
After lunch my daughters and granddaughter were interested in seeing the new World Trade Center.  So we walked there.  The picture to the left depicts how tall the building is compared to the older ones in the surrounding neighborhood.  So ended our visit to lower (or downtown) New York City.

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