Irritable crabs face off at Ocean Beach arena.

Some irritable crabs were facing off all around a watery square arena at the Ocean Beach tide pools yesterday.

Crabs small and smaller, feeling agitated, would lift their claws threateningly, scamper right up to a rival, show ’em who’s boss, then, seeming to forget everything, would bumble off in a different direction.

I can’t say there was too much actual grappling. Just a lot of showboating.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Living Coast Discovery Center needs your help!

I just read an article on the KPBS website about how the Living Coast Discovery Center desperately needs donations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Most of their revenue comes from people visiting the center, which has been closed. Meanwhile, the many animals in their care–the birds, turtles, snakes, small mammals and other wild critters rescued around South Bay’s wetlands–need to eat! That requires money!

So I thought perhaps some of my San Diego readers might like to help out, too.

Have your kids taken school field trips to the Living Coast Discovery Center? Have you enjoyed a visit with your family? These deserving people really need your help!

Click here to learn more and perhaps make a donation!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Bottlenose dolphins off San Diego!

Today I headed out into the wide Pacific Ocean aboard the Adventure Hornblower. We were going to look for whales!

Sometimes you can find blue whales–the planet’s largest animal–feeding at the Nine Mile Bank, which is an underwater mountain range deep in the ocean west of San Diego.

You might recall I went summer whale watching last year. I blogged a good description of what the experience is like here.

We didn’t spot any whales on this unusually foggy, hazy summer’s day, but we observed two pods of dolphins.

The first was a small pod of common dolphins not far from the harbor’s entrance.

About four miles out of San Diego Bay we slowed down to enjoy the view of a large pod of very active bottlenose dolphins! The captain said they appeared to be travelling south together, not feeding. There were some baby dolphins, too, but I failed to capture any good photos of them.

It’s hard to photograph suddenly surfacing or leaping dolphins–at least it is for me and my little camera. I’m usually much too late reacting.

But here come several photos you might enjoy!

The cool thing about whale watching in San Diego, you’re almost guaranteed to see lots of dolphins. And if you don’t see any whales, Hornblower Cruises gives you a voucher to enjoy another free trip!

For me, heading out into the wild, beautiful ocean is an amazing experience every single time.

I got my voucher! Maybe I’ll try again this winter, when numerous gray whales are migrating along our coast!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Colorful art in Escondido celebrates nature!

Plaza del Arroyo mural near North Broadway and Escondido Creek features a wading bird.
Plaza del Arroyo mural near North Broadway and Escondido Creek features a wading bird.

Lots of colorful art that celebrates nature can be spotted in Escondido when you walk along the east side of Broadway, between the Escondido Creek Trail and the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum.

These photographs were taken during a walk that headed south.

Enjoy!

Escondido Creek Trail mural behind flowers by the popular bike and pedestrian path.
Escondido Creek Trail mural behind flowers by the popular bike and pedestrian path.
Nearby utility boxes with an elaborately painted owl and hummingbird.
Nearby utility boxes with an elaborately painted owl and hummingbird.
Another nearby electrical box reads BEE KIND.
Another nearby electrical box reads BEE KIND.
Mosaic on this post at the parking lot of the San Diego Children's Discovery Museum shows desert animal and plant life.
Mosaic on this post at the parking lot of the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum shows desert animal and plant life.
A desert tortoise, I believe.
A desert tortoise, I believe.
A beautiful, very colorful abstract butterfly mural near the entrance to the San Diego Children's Discovery Museum.
A beautiful, very colorful abstract butterfly mural near the entrance to the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Wild Horses run through Vista Village!

Many have reported seeing Wild Horses running loose in Vista, California. The small herd tends to gather near West Broadway, on the grass right next to the Vista Village Creek Walk!

I saw this amazing public art today during a long walk around historic downtown Vista. Wild Horses is a grouping of outdoor sculptures by Ricardo Breceda. They were created in 2016.

Ricardo Breceda is best known for his creation of over 130 metal sculptures in Borrego Springs, which is located in the Anza-Borrego Desert east of San Diego. Large creatures abound, including dinosaurs, desert scorpions and bighorn sheep. Probably his most famous sculpture is a 350 foot sea serpent that swims through the sand!

I enjoyed looking at many cool sculptures during my walk through Vista today, but Wild Horses was easily my favorite. From a distance the rusty steel horses appear so lifelike!

A nearby plaque provides a quote: …the old timer told of wild horses running from the hills to the ocean every spring with their young…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Fossils exposed in Hillcrest on University Avenue!

Perceptive people who walk along University Avenue in Hillcrest, between First Avenue and Park Boulevard, might see dozens of fossils “exposed” in the sidewalk.

These small, stone-sculpted plant and animal fossils are part of San Diego’s largest public art installation, which stretches about a mile long!

Fossils Exposed, created by San Diego artist Doron Rosenthal in 1998, consists of 150 granite markers set in the sidewalks along either side of University Avenue.

Doron Rosenthal has always been inspired by the unique beauty of desert landscapes. After spending some time in Pietra Santa, Italy, working with and learning from some of the world’s greatest sculptors, Doron Rosenthal returned to Southern California and taught stone cutting at the San Diego Art Institute. He continues to produce art today.

According to the artist’s website, “FOSSILS EXPOSED involves the creation and installation of 150 circular 4.5 inch granite markers. Each represent the artist’s interpretive carvings of local and regional fossilized plant and animal life, which are sandblasted into granite…. The imagery is inspired by the fossil collections from the San Diego Museum of Natural History. Each marker is different, representing various plant and animal species covered over by modern day urban development. The project would encourage awareness of the levels of life that struggled to exist within the area–some in the past, some in the present…”

To learn more, visit Doron Rosenthal’s website here.

I walked along University Avenue this morning and photographed just a fraction of the many Fossils Exposed.

To my eyes, it appears that over the years these man-made fossils have become even more fossil-like. They’ve aged along with the slowly weathering sidewalks and surroundings.

Unfortunately, it also appears much of the fossil artwork is now missing. Sections of sidewalk have been replaced over time, and I could locate no markers along a few stretches of University Avenue. I suspect that when old sections of concrete sidewalk were removed, certain fossils vanished, and ended up buried under layers of rubble and Earth. Where most true fossils are found.

If that’s the case, what a shame.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Help zoos, aquariums during the pandemic!

Rex the Lion, inspiration for the San Diego Zoo's creation, now lives eternally in Balboa Park!

Zoos and aquariums rely on visitors for most of their revenue. The coronavirus pandemic has closed their doors, but the animals still need care. They need to eat!

I just learned that someone is now walking from the LA Zoo to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park to raise funds to help out zoos and aquariums!

Dr. Monica Metzdorf, who loves animals, is approaching the Safari Park as I write this blog!

Help her raise funds for the animals! Proceeds will go to the LA Zoo, the Aquarium of the Pacific, and the San Diego Zoo, to purchase food for the fish and animals.

Go to her website and look for the PayPal link! Spread the word!

Finding tracks, signs of wildlife at Mission Trails!

A guided group walks through Mission Trails Regional Park looking for signs of wildlife.
A guided group walks through Mission Trails Regional Park looking for signs of wildlife.

This morning I went on a truly extraordinary guided walk. Two expert trackers took a small group on an easy hike in Mission Trails Regional Park to search for tracks and other signs of often elusive wildlife!

The immense, mountainous Mission Trails Regional Park, located within the City of San Diego, is home to abundant wildlife. But it can be hard to spot animals in the wild during a visit to the park. Many species are nocturnal. Many tend to hide in the scrubby vegetation to avoid predators, to watch for a passing meal, or protect a nest.

This morning I and others met at the Visitor Center to set out on this special walk. While we didn’t see anything very dramatic, we did observe how the living world around us is engaged in a perpetual dance. We learned that humans with open eyes and curious minds might find signs left by rabbits, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, bobcats, deer, and even (but rarely) mountain lions!

We saw several spots where a skunk dug for grubs. We saw several wood rat’s nests. We leaned down to the ground to peer at the secret trap door of a spider. We saw lots of dog tracks in dried mud, rabbit tracks in some green grass, and coyote scat. We learned what differently pressed tracks might indicate about an animal passing that way. Were they stealthily hunting? Leaning to one side? In a big hurry to avoid a predator?

We watched birds flitting through shrubs and trees and soaring in the blue sky high above, and we learned a whole lot about crows and ravens and red-tailed hawks. We learned why coyotes howl. We saw a hummingbird. We watched a fence lizard pump itself up and down. We discovered a small, perfectly circular hole dug by a digger bee.

We learned how scent is a critically important sense for both predator and prey, and how animals in the wild are all acutely aware of each other at any given moment. And how they are confused by oddly unpredictable human behavior. We learned far too much to mention everything in this blog!

Our two super knowledgeable guides have been leading these wildlife tracking walks, which are held the first Saturday of every month, for about 11 years.

Bob MacDonald and Mike Gibbs belong to the San Diego Tracking Team, an organization of experts and enthusiasts who track wildlife in our region. They advocate for good stewardship of the natural environment and provide researchers with data from about 20 sites around San Diego County, as far away as the Anza Borrego desert.

According to their website: “San Diego County has the most biodiversity of any County in North America… Many of the plants and animals that call our region home are found nowhere else in the world… The San Diego Tracking Team (SDTT) is dedicated to preserving the wildlife habitat in the San Diego region through citizen-based wildlife monitoring and environmental education programs…”

Both Bob and Mike were super interesting and personable, and even the young kids in our group never lost interest as we learned about the endlessly amazing dance of life all around us.

I learned that Mike Gibbs was an Army Green Beret with extensive wilderness survival knowledge. He has worked in law enforcement and search and rescue as an educator and as a human and animal tracker. I’m anxious to read his book Spirit Wolf, a novel that takes place on the High Plains. (Which, by pure coincidence, is where I once lived and is the setting for a short story I’m now working on!)

But enough of that for now! On to a few photographs!

One of two experienced animal trackers addresses our group near the Mission Trails Visitor Center before we begin our adventure.
Mike Gibbs, one of two highly experienced animal trackers, addresses our group near the Mission Trails Visitor Center before we begin our adventure.
Our short but super fascinating wildlife tracking walk took us up the Oak Grove Inner Trail.
Our short but super fascinating wildlife tracking walk took us up the Oak Grove Inner Trail.
A hiking stick has been laid down to show where a skunk has dug small holes in the soil looking for grubs.
A hiking stick has been laid down to show where a skunk has dug small holes in the soil looking for grubs.
As the skunk moved forward, nose to the ground, it dug a series of additional holes.
As the skunk moved forward, nose to the ground, it dug a series of additional holes.
Walking again along the trail, searching for more signs of local wildlife.
Walking again along the trail, searching for more signs of local San Diego wildlife.
One of our guides points to the lair of a trapdoor spider! They pop out to catch prey, and lay their eggs inside their smooth burrow for safety. Yes, spiders can dig!
One of our guides points to the lair of a trapdoor spider! They pop out to catch prey, and lay their eggs inside their smooth burrow for safety. Yes, spiders can dig!
We saw lots of dog tracks in dried mud. The heavy front pads indicate a breed with a forward center of gravity. Coyotes have much neater, straighter tracks.
We saw lots of dog tracks in dried mud. The heavy front pads indicate a heavy breed with a forward center of gravity. Coyotes have distinctive, much straighter tracks.
Way up there on that distant tree we spot a hummingbird!
Way up there on top of that distant tree we spot a tiny hummingbird!
Rabbits made these tracks in the bent grass as they moved forward eating. We saw a couple calm rabbits feeding in the distance, seemingly unconcerned about predators.
Rabbits made these tracks in the bent grass as they moved forward leaving a U-shaped trail. We saw a couple of calm rabbits feeding in the distance, seemingly unconcerned about predators.
A gopher hole in the trail, long abandoned. The hole was subsequently widened by curious dogs poking in their noses, excited by an old scent.
A pocket gopher’s hole in the trail, long abandoned. The hole was subsequently widened by curious dogs poking in their noses, excited by an old scent.
Fresh moist coyote scat. These droppings seemed to show a recent vegetable diet.
Fresh moist coyote scat. These droppings seemed to show a recent vegetable diet.
But nearby, other dried, ropy coyote droppings contain rabbit fur.
But nearby, other dried, ropy coyote droppings contain rabbit fur.
This small perfectly circular hole was dug by a digger bee. Yes, bees can dig, too! It seems a lot of critters dig. Snakes don't. They like to digest their food in the safety of Wood Rat's nests.
This small perfectly circular hole was dug by a digger bee. Yes, bees can dig, too! It seems a lot of critters dig. Snakes don’t. They like to digest their food in the safety of a wood rat’s sturdy stick nest.
What will we discover next? Life continues its dance, and the natural world is ever changing.
What will we discover next? Life continues its dance and the natural world is ever changing.

Wildlife Tracking Walks are held at Mission Trails Regional Park the first Saturday of every month, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. To learn more about the park’s different guided walks, click here.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

A new Children’s Zoo is under construction!

The Sanford Children's Zoo will contain two acres of new animal habitats and kid friendly experiences.
The Sanford Children’s Zoo will contain two acres of new animal habitats and kid friendly experiences.

Yes, I spent another Sunday in Balboa Park. It’s close to where I live, and I love it.

Look what I discovered while walking around today!

For a while I’ve been wondering about a very large crane rising above the southeast corner of the San Diego Zoo. You can see it just west of the Spanish Village Art Center, behind a construction fence that runs along the walkway connecting the zoo to the center of Balboa Park.

I noticed banners have been hung on the fence!

A new Children’s Zoo is under construction! It will be called the Sanford Children’s Zoo and will feature two acres of new habitats and fun things for kids to do. It appears the new Children’s Zoo will open in 2021.

Check out these banners to see come cool renderings and description!

The world-famous San Diego Zoo's new Sanford Children's Zoo is now under construction. It's due to open in 2021.
The world-famous San Diego Zoo’s new Sanford Children’s Zoo is now under construction. It’s due to open in 2021.
There will be a shallow stream for kids to play in and a rope bridge to a fun treehouse.
There will be a gentle stream for kids to play in and a rope bridge to a fun treehouse.
There will be a waterfall and cave behind it.
There will be a waterfall and cave behind it.
Visitors will be able to view a complex network of underground tunnels and burrows used by naked mole-rats!
Visitors will be able to view a complex network of underground tunnels and burrows used by naked mole-rats!
There will be some sort of big water globe near the new Children's Zoo's entrance. (Will there be fish in it?)
There will be some sort of big water globe near the new Children’s Zoo’s entrance. (I wonder how kids will interact with it. Will there be fish in it?)
A new walk-through aviary will include beautiful hummingbirds!
A new walk-through aviary will include beautiful hummingbirds!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

PAWmicon takes over the Comic-Con Museum!

PAWmicon keeps on growing!

A couple years ago I attended this unique pet cosplay event at Hazard Center, but PAWmicon has grown in popularity so much, this year it was held in Balboa Park at the future home of the Comic-Con Museum!

Every year PAWmicon, organized by the Helen Woodward Animal Center, is enjoyed a week or two before San Diego Comic-Con. Pet owners dress up their pooches like superheroes (or supervillains) and compete in a fun cosplay (paws-play) competition. Some of the dog owners put on costumes, too!

This year I noticed members of the Science Fiction Coalition were in attendance, cosplaying as DC Comics characters. Not surprisingly, I saw that scheming villain Penguin hanging out very suspiciously near a SeaWorld penguin!

Funds raised from this very cool annual event benefit the Helen Woodward Animal Center, a world-renowned organization that rescues homeless dogs and other animals. They also provide education and therapeutic programs for us humans.

Please visit the Helen Woodward Animal Center website here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!