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San Diego County Cache Critters


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Getting To Know You

 

Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron (Couple Days After 1st Sighting)

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Great Blue Heron (Different Days)

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Had a chance to check out two Sibley Guides and Birds of the Southwest. Figured local Birdie Taylor library would have some decent birding books :) and I've also enjoyed the following:

Watchable Birds of California by Mary Taylor Gray

100 Birds and How They Got Their Names by Diana Wells

Hummingbirds Their Life and Behavior by Esther Q. Tyrrell

Introduction to Birds of the Southern California Coast by Joan E. Lentz

 

Got an answer for GD from The Bird Almanac The Ultimate Guide to Essential Facts and Figures of the World’s Birds by David M. Bird, Phd

 

Suggested Weight-Carrying Capacities Of Selected Bird Species:

Osprey

Approx Body Weight:1,800(g)

Item Carried: Fish

Approx Weight Item:1,800(g)

Percent of Body Weight:100

 

ID Correction: Great White Heron is Great Egret :D Too much time on Sanibel Island ;)

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H. - Thanks, nice to see your Photoshopped versions as always!

 

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GD - Been exercising near <<< A GREAT BIRD WATCHING SPOT >>> (GC17NF7) and neglected to mention I saw a juvenile Osprey last week on one of its two favorite perches, the stadium light with dried fish. Yesterday it was flying between the two pads and I got another :) blurry pic. According to some bird id guides, the brown-streaked band of feathers on the lower neck of ospreys is usually heavier and darker in females.

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Over the 4th of July weekend, I again participated in the annual Anza Borrego Desert Bighorn Sheep Count from a backpack site in Borrego Palm Canyon (above Third Grove).

 

On Saturday the 4th of July, we saw two Red-tailed Hawks harassing a much larger Golden Eagle, who flew over us relatively unperturbed. The hawks looked very small in comparison (weight differential is 4x and wing span about 2x. Eventually a second Golden Eagle approached and the pair eventually drifted over the ridge toward Coyote Canyon. I was watching with a spotting scope so, uncharacteristically, did not take any photos of the action. The viewing was far superior through the scope anyway.

 

Shortly afterward, a third Golden Eagle, a juvenile, showed up in the same area but a bit farther away. It was riding a thermal upward and eventually followed the presumed parents. I did manage a blurry long distance photo after watching it for awhile in the spotting scope.

 

Last week, I happened to mention this sighting to a friend who lives near Tom's Place, north of Bishop, where I stopped in before a week of hiking/climbing in the Sierras and White Mountains. He shared the following Eagle story.

-GD

*******

Subject: Eagles!

 

One of the best Fighter Pilot stories I've seen in a long time.

 

This came from a gent who runs a 2000 acre corn farm up around Barron , WI

-- not far from Oshkosh. He used to fly F-4Es and F-16s for the Guard and

Participated in the first Gulf War... Submitted for your enjoyment, and as a

Reminder that there are other great, magnificent flyers around us.

-------------------------------------------------

 

I went out to plant corn for a bit, to finish a field before

Tomorrow morning and witnessed The Great Battle. A golden eagle - big

Bastard, about six foot wingspan - flew right in front of the tractor. It

Was being chased by three crows that were continually dive bombing it and

Pecking at it. The crows do this because the eagles rob their nests when

They find them.

 

At any rate, the eagle banked hard right in one evasive maneuver, then

Landed in the field about 100 feet from the tractor. This eagle stood about

3 feet tall. The crows all landed too and took up positions around the

Eagle at 120 degrees apart, but kept their distance at about 20 feet from

The big bird. The eagle would take a couple steps toward one of the crows

And they'd hop backwards (and then forward) to keep their distance. Then

The reinforcement showed up.

 

I happened to spot the eagle's mate hurtling down out of the sky at what

Appeared to be approximately Mach 1.5. Just before impact the eagle on the

Ground took flight, (obviously a coordinated tactic; probably pre-briefed)

And the three crows which were watching the grounded eagle, also took flight

Thinking they were going to get in some more pecking on the big bird.

 

The first crow being targeted by the diving eagle never stood a

Snowball's' chance in hell. There was a mid-air explosion of black feathers

And that crow was done. The diving eagle then banked hard left in what had

To be a 9G climbing turn, using the energy it had accumulated in the dive,

And hit crow #2 less than two seconds later. Another crow dead.

 

The grounded eagle, which was now airborne and had an altitude advantage

On the remaining crow, which was streaking eastward in full burner, made a

Short dive then banked hard right when the escaping crow tried to evade the

Hit. It didn't work - crow #3 bit the dust at about 20 feet altitude.

 

This aerial battle was better than any air show I've been to, including

The warbirds show at Oshkosh! The two eagles ripped the crows apart and ate

Them on the ground, and as I got closer and closer, working my way across

The field, I passed within 20 feet of one of them as it ate its catch. It

Stopped and looked at me as I went by and you could see in the look of that

Bird that it knew who's Boss Of The Sky. What a beautiful bird!

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Speaking of the annual Anza Borrego Bighorn Sheep Count, here are a few of the photos I posted to Alluvial Fan & Flash Floods - Anza Borrego SP, GCZ5XM, one of the few currently active Geocaches in the vicinity. In fact, there used to be a regular GC very near my backpack campsite. Daytime temperatures were in the 106-108 degree range, perfect for enticing the sheep to come to water.

 

More photos are available for viewing at My Flickr page.

 

-GD

 

July 2nd

Ram near junction with Alternate Trail on hike in

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Ewe in same group

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Sub-yearling ewe calling to mom

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July 3rd

Large ram across from count site blind above Third Grove

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Damselfly, Third Grove pond

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July 5th

Frog pocket, First Grove on hike out

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Mixed family below First Grove

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Friday, 7 August 2009

I have stopped by Robb Field after work nearly every evening this week hoping to spot one of the newly minted Ospreys. The tern viewing has been exceptional with a mix of Forsters and Elegants in large numbers. Still, the Ospreys were my main objective. The nest has long been abandoned and none were sighted when I was in the area- until this afternoon.

 

I was lucky to have a couple of flybys, one directly overhead that was close enough to get some detail in the plumage.

-GD

 

Prime birding area

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Initial sighting

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Robb Field Osprey

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Wednesday, 7/15/2009

Catching up on earlier critter encounters. These were taken on a mid-week hike up to Red Tahquitz TC via the Devil's Slide Trail out of Idyllwild.

-GD

 

White-headed Woodpecker (Picoides albolarvatus)

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Chipmunk near Saddle Junction

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Lemon Lily (Lilium parryi) - a rare and threatened flower species

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Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gaambeli)

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White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)

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Monday, 27 July 2009

Mono Lake, on the east side of the Sierra near the town of Lee Vining, has been designated a globally Important Bird Area (IBA). In late July I visited Tufa Towers (GCPD2V) on a layover day between hiking/climbing in the Mono Pass area near Bishop and in the White Mountains. I intended to spend a couple of hours to visit this GC and a nearby multi-stage TC. The birding was so exceptional, though, that I ended up here nearly all day. If you are ever in the area, South Tufa, Navy Beach, and the county park on the northwest shore are all highly recommended.

-GD

 

Violet-green Swallows evading a Cooper's Hawk

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California Gull (Mono Lake is their principal nesting area)

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Juvenile California Gull

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Violet-green Swallow approaching with food for new fledglings

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Feed me, feed me

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Fledgling scramble

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Pre-flight juvenile Ospreys

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American Avocets

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

A new lizard species for Team Gecko! Encountered this Barred Spiny Lizard playing peek-a-boo with me near Long Nose, near the end of the lateral moraine that forms the north side of Big Pine Creek. When I first spotted it at a distance, I thought it was a collared lizard. It was quite large and elusive, dancing around to the opposite side of a boulder before going into hiding beneath it. I had been in the White Mountains and then the Sierras for a week and my camera batteries died after only a couple of shots and I was not able to document the best viewing I had when it was in the open. I walked back to the 4Runner and grabbed the other camera in hopes it would come back out. Only a Gecko would spawl out on prickly ground in 95 degree heat waiting for a lizard to stick its head out from under a rock. Of course, it did not so I had to settle for a couple of flash shots while it went to sleep in the shadows.

-GD

 

First look - Barred Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister transversus)

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Peek-a-boo

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Spiny hunk

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Eye-to-eye

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Monday, 24 August 2009

I enjoyed an afternoon viewing the critters adjacent to Stanley Park Aquarium Cache, which I tracked down at the end of a week's vacation in Vancouver. The were a number of lighting challenges and unpredictable behaviors inside and out so a photographer needed to be on their game. Here are few examples.

-GD

 

Pacific White-sided Dolphins

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Baby Beluga Whale and mom

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Loggerhead Sea Turtle

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Surreal jelly

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Baby Beluga taking a look just before sundown

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Saturday, 9/26/2009

Took advantage of outstanding weather and 10 nights camping in Yosemite Valley to take in the Pohono Trail, Panorama Trail, and the trek to the summit of Half Dome. This female Blue Grouse (Dendragapus obscurus) was one of three I passed just below Yosemite Sentinel Dome Virtual Cache. Later in our visit I was to encounter a number of other flocks of females and even had a chance to pause in the midst of a foursome and enjoy their quiet, peaceful evening chittering.

-GD

 

Blue Grouse

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Saturday, 10/3/2009

Something out of the ordinary and a first sighting for me - a Leucistic Brewer's Blackbird. Based on it size in comparison to the adults with which it was browsing, this one appears to be a juvenile. Although very uncommon, this kind of pigment variation is known as Leucistic, meaning a condition characterized by reduced pigmentation in animals. This youngster was spotted in Upper Pines Campground, Yosemite Valley, as I was about to ride my bicycle over to GC1QN2P.

-GD

 

Leucistic Brewer's Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)

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Theme and variation

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Nov 11

 

Quick mini photo session at Mission Bay today to compare cameras.

 

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Moved toward waters edge and caught an Osprey flying back and forth in hunting mode with its trailing companion calling out to it.

 

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Drove south stopping when I saw another raptor soaring overhead. Missed the best shot when it doubled back due to an adrenaline rush.

 

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Couldn’t pass up the chance to check out Rose Creek and after lunch in the Rose Chapel parking lot walked over for a peek. American Coots, a handsome pair of Widgets, a Green Heron and best of all…three Osprey’s flying high above! Cute Hummingbird watching as I reviewed pics outside.

 

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BTW FM / H: Dibbs on a full set of future Yrium CACHE CRITTER cards! Think savory, spicy tamales! Consistently outstanding work GD and LLOT!

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Pomegranate (Pomum granatus)

 

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Shake down using local food for the holidays.

 

1. Seed a couple of pomegranates and assemble ingredients.

2. Melt minimal amounts of brown sugar and butter with cinnamon adding the pomegranate seeds and stirring until some but not all of the juice is released from the seeds.

3. Strain mixture in colander setting aside the juice.

4. Layer a shallow pan with strained pomegranate seeds (and walnuts if available).

5. Add the juice instead of water to the dry cake mix covering seeds with batter.

6. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until done and invert onto a plate. Delicious warm!

 

Pomegranate juice stains. My technique is to cut ¼ inch off both ends and score a wedge. Some folks score wedges around and soak the fruit for 15 minutes in warm water. Pull off enough of the outer shell to allow you to carefully pry apart the fruit so the seeds can be rolled from the membranes. Another method is to complete the entire process under water allowing the seeds to fall collecting them afterwards. Bon appetite!

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Pomegranate (Pomum granatus)

 

Shake down using local food for the holidays.

 

1. Seed a couple of pomegranates and assemble ingredients.

2. Melt minimal amounts of brown sugar and butter with cinnamon adding the pomegranate seeds and stirring until some but not all of the juice is released from the seeds.

3. Strain mixture in colander setting aside the juice.

4. Layer a shallow pan with strained pomegranate seeds (and walnuts if available).

5. Add the juice instead of water to the dry cake mix covering seeds with batter.

6. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until done and invert onto a plate. Delicious warm!

 

Pomegranate juice stains. My technique is to cut ¼ inch off both ends and score a wedge. Some folks score wedges around and soak the fruit for 15 minutes in warm water. Pull off enough of the outer shell to allow you to carefully pry apart the fruit so the seeds can be rolled from the membranes. Another method is to complete the entire process under water allowing the seeds to fall collecting them afterwards. Bon appetite!

Hopefully no cache critter ingredients are contained in this holiday treat. :lol:

-GD

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Thursday, 11/19/2009

Outstanding fall birding late this afternoon near Lil' Dragon's playtime.

-GD

 

Part of a huge squadron of Black Brants (Branta bernicla)

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Osprey surveying San Diego River estuary opportunities

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Ready to launch for a dive

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Four-headed vision (I believe this is a Pied-billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps)

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Osprey twilight overflight

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Over-the-shoulder view as it heads toward Mission Bay

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Saw this critter near GC1TC9Z

 

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D!-

Great to see your new contributions to the Critter page. Some portrait views worthy of Zoonooz.

 

Here are a few Meerkat shots taken on November 1 also near GC1TC9Z when Groovy was in town for a visit.

-GD

 

Wary Meerkats watching a helicopter overhead (That's a very BIG bird!)

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Another subgroup monitoring the situation

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Critter comfort

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Senior observer

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Did it land?

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