How to create a wildlife-friendly backyard!

I saw this great information on how to create a wildlife-friendly backyard and thought I’d share it! These four ideas were posted in a trailhead kiosk at Mission Trail Regional Park.

  1. Grow plants that provide wildlife with a natural food source such as nuts, berries or nectar, or add backyard feeders.
  2. Provide water for wildlife with a birdbath, small pond or shallow dish.
  3. Offer protective cover for wildlife by providing ground cover, a hollow log or rock piles, dense shrubs or a roosting box.
  4. Provide places for wildlife to raise their young, such as a water garden, pond or nesting box.

If you’d like to watch the birds and animals without them being spooked, or perhaps take close-up photographs, consider building a blind from which you can watch your wild visitors!

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!

River ducks arrive, greet, depart!

These events were recorded in Mission Valley this morning. I watched from the middle of the pedestrian bridge that spans the San Diego River by the Fashion Valley Transit Center.

Two ducks splashed down. They exchanged quack-greetings with a duck that floated nearby. The single duck launched itself from the water. Contented ducks swam happily along….

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!

Nesting cormorants above La Jolla Cove!

It must be breeding season already, because hundreds of Brandt’s cormorants are showing their blue throat patches and building nests on the cliffs above La Jolla Cove!

Today I stood and watched peculiar bird behaviors from the roadside above the cliffs. I saw amorous flirtations and angry squabbles and seaweed tug-of-wars. Cormorants in nests would occasionally angle their heads and wings way back, staring straight up. I’m not sure if that’s a natural behavior, or if they were merely gaping at all the tourists above them!

I tried to select my best photographs. In some the cormorants appear very beautiful; in others a bit strange and primitive–almost monstrous.

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!

The many birds of Famosa Slough.

Yesterday I headed to Point Loma to walk by Famosa Slough, a protected wetland I have driven past on many occasions. This was my first time walking the trails of the slough south of West Point Loma Boulevard, and along the channel that runs north toward Interstate 8 and the San Diego River.

The more I walked along the water and natural vegetation of the Famosa Slough State Marine Conservation Area, the more birds I saw! There were bright white egrets, and gulls and cormorants and ducks and various shorebirds. As you’ll see in one photo, I also spotted an osprey!

My photographs begin beside the slough that motorists see from West Point Loma Boulevard, then I crossed the street and followed a dirt pathway north up the channel to the end of the path.

Famosa Slough is part of a statewide network of Marine Protected Areas. It includes open shallow water, riparian habitat, wetland upland transition habitats, and four treatment basins to protect water quality.

Here is where I crossed over West Point Loma Boulevard. First I checked out the following information signs near the path up the Famosa Channel.

Birds one can see at Famosa Slough include the great egret, American wigeon, black-necked stilt, snowy egret, little blue heron, California brown pelican, and blue-winged teal.
Famosa Slough is a 37-acre coastal wetland owned by the City of San Diego and cared for by the Friends of Famosa Slough. It is home to many rare and endangered local and migratory bird species.
Looking north up the channel through the remains of an old bridge.
A kiosk. I couldn’t read the weathered words, but enjoyed the image of two gulls.
Heading up the dirt path.
I could see many birds in the distance.
A snowy egret.
A nice bench for resting and birdwatching.
An osprey soars high overhead!

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!

Birds in feeding frenzy at Tuna Harbor!

The birds of Tuna Harbor gobbled up a delectable meal this morning!

Pelicans, egrets, cormorants and other feathered diners pursued a school of small fish as it moved back and forth next to the shoreline.

I stood on the boardwalk above the rocks for several minutes and photographed the feeding frenzy!

The birds were so intent on breakfast they didn’t seem to mind my presence.

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!

See amazing birds of prey at Hawk Watch!

A spectacular event is held every winter in Ramona, California. On Saturdays, during January and February, the public can freely enjoy an educational program called Hawk Watch.

Those who go to Hawk Watch will see birds of prey up close and in the wild. The setting is the wide, beautiful Ramona Grasslands.

Hawk Watch is an event organized by the Wildlife Research Institute. WRI, in a cooperative effort with The Nature Conservancy and San Diego County, now protects 7,000 acres of Ramona grassland. This grassland is an important natural refuge where native wildlife can not only survive, but thrive.

Hawk Watch features live raptors and a fascinating educational talk by biologists. The owls are introduced during the talk by representatives of Project Wildlife, which provides wildlife rescue in San Diego County. The talk is followed by demonstrations by falconry experts.

Afterward, all of the ambassador raptors can be viewed by the public up close!

Today I went to Hawk Watch!

The event is held on Ramona’s private Begent Ranch, which features all sorts of cool artwork, including colorful sculptures arranged about a large dirt parking lot. After walking through a barn and looking at a variety of educational exhibits, I set up my lawn chair with other visitors at the edge of the scenic grasslands.

As we were introduced to different species of hawks, falcons and owls, and learned about their special characteristics and adaptations, we could watch wild raptors and some ravens circling in the distance above the grasslands. Birds of prey that can be spotted in the blue skies of Ramona include hawks, kites, kestrels, golden eagles, and recently bald eagles!

The event has become so beloved that visitors today came from as far away as India, China and Israel. For two hours, everyone, including many families with children, sat enchanted by all that was seen and learned. Many of the visitors had high powered photographic equipment and binoculars. I made due with my little old camera.

Here are some photos. I’m afraid they’re just adequate. I couldn’t really record the falconry demonstrations very well, which included the clever use of a drone, but they were fantastic.

I know I’ll be going to Hawk Watch again. You can learn more about this amazing event and the work of the Wildlife Research Institute at their website here.

One last thing. The photo you’re about to see is a painting of WRI Director and Wildlife Biologist, co-founder of Hawk Watch, Dave Bittner. He tragically passed away about a month ago doing something he loved: tending to a camera near a golden eagle’s high cliff nest.

I was told Hawk Watch will live on.

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!

Birds flock along the sand in Coronado.

Today I enjoyed a short walk in Coronado. I strolled along the edge of San Diego Bay, from the Coronado Ferry Landing to Tidelands Park, then turned around and made my way back. The overcast winter day was chilly and even a few raindrops fell.

I was in the mood to walk slowly, while gazing across the gray water.

As I began south, a flock of seagulls stood preening on a strip of wet sand below the rocks near the Coronado Island Marriott Resort. From time to time gulls stretched their wings. Some would suddenly launch into the sky. I paused to watch and take photos.

When I reached Tidelands Park, I spotted a great blue heron and a few shorebirds that I believe were marbled godwits.

I took a few random photos of this scenic stretch of the Bayshore Bikeway as I made my way back to catch the ferry. San Diego’s skyline beckoned in the distance.

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!

San Diego Audubon Society’s fun Bird Festival!

People enjoying the annual Bird Festival at Marina Village have walked to the San Diego River Estuary where many aquatic birds congregate.
People enjoying the annual Bird Festival at Marina Village have walked to the San Diego River Estuary where many aquatic birds congregate.

Today during my walk I encountered of group of enthusiastic birders at the San Diego River Estuary. These folks were all participating in the San Diego Audubon Society’s annual Bird Festival, which takes place this weekend at the nearby Marina Village Conference Center.

Later during my walk I visited the Bird Festival’s registration room, where anyone can purchase dozens of different birdwatching and reference books, plus other gifts. A friendly lady informed me that the San Diego Audubon Society has about three thousand members! During the Bird Festival and throughout the year, members can go on all sorts of field trips around San Diego County, and take every sort of bird-related class imaginable.

Members and volunteers are also involved in working to restore critical bird habitat in Mission Bay! I blogged about that a couple years ago here!

Do you make your home in San Diego? Do you love birds? Then you probably should join the Audubon Society! Here the local chapter’s website, where you can also learn more about the very cool Bird Festival, which continues through tomorrow!

The San Diego Audubon Society offers many birdwatching opportunities. The organization also has a conservation program.
The San Diego Audubon Society offers many birdwatching opportunities. The organization also has a vital conservation program.

If I joined the Audubon Society, maybe I'd learn what sort of behavior these birds are displaying!
If I joined the Audubon Society, maybe I’d learn what sort of behavior these birds are displaying!

Poster at the Bird Festival shows how the San Diego Audubon Society is helping to restore the nesting habitat of the endangered California Least Tern in Mission Bay.
Poster at the Bird Festival shows how the San Diego Audubon Society is helping to restore the nesting habitat of the endangered California Least Tern in Mission Bay.

I believe this little guy on the bank of the San Diego River is a snowy egret.
I believe this little guy on the bank of the San Diego River is a snowy egret.

Members of the San Diego Audubon Society enjoy a perfect sunny day and identify lots of birds!
Members of the San Diego Audubon Society enjoy a perfect sunny day and identify lots of birds!

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!

Great egrets and white pelicans on the river!

A group of great egrets in the San Diego River Estuary.
A group of great egrets in the San Diego River Estuary.

I was super lucky today! During my walk along the San Diego River Estuary, as I approached the West Mission Bay Drive Bridge from the east, I spotted two groups of beautiful white birds!

First I watched ten great egrets hunting small fish in the shallows near the shore. Next I watched a group of four white pelicans, just cruising around together on the water’s surface, looking for an easy meal.

I got some good photos!

I saw ten great egrets in a loose grouping in the river. They were hunting for fish. At times they would engage in brief, rather harmless scuffles.
I saw ten great egrets in a loose grouping in the river. They were hunting for fish. At times they would engage in brief, rather harmless scuffles.

Graceful white egrets in the shallow blue water.
Graceful white egrets stand in the shallow blue water.

Great egrets flap their wings among river ducks.
Great egrets flap their wings among river ducks.

A beautiful great egret stalks through the estuary near a mudflat.
A beautiful great egret stalks through the estuary near a mudflat.

Four white pelicans were cruising along the San Diego River looking for fish.
Four white pelicans were cruising along the San Diego River not far from the Pacific Ocean looking for fish.

This tight group of pelicans would thrust their heads simultaneously into the water.
This tight group of pelicans would thrust their heads simultaneously into the water.

White pelicans only appear in San Diego during their migration. Brown pelicans are the ordinary residents.
White pelicans only appear in San Diego during their migration. Brown pelicans are the ordinary residents.

Big pelican beaks dip into the river.
Big pelican beaks dip into the river.

Another very cool sight on the San Diego River!
Another very cool sight on the San Diego River!

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!

Seagulls take flight in a feeding frenzy!

They were everywhere! Circling in every direction! Wheeling high overhead, skimming low near the water!

It seemed that hundreds of seagulls had gathered from every part of San Diego Bay. Patrolling the sky, they watched two sea lions feasting on discarded scraps from a nearby fishing vessel.

Everyone on Fish Harbor Pier stood transfixed by the whirlwind experience!

When a scrap of fish broke loose from the romping sea lions, a feeding frenzy on the water would suddenly begin!

I took these cool photos this afternoon, after taking the ferry back from Coronado. More of my adventure on Coronado is coming up…

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!