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!

A few morning birds around the city.

Someone waits on a sidewalk among pigeons early one morning in downtown San Diego.
Someone waits on a sidewalk among pigeons, early one morning in downtown San Diego.

In the city of San Diego, the early bird catches the worm. And an early morning walker takes many photos!

One cool aspect of living in downtown San Diego is the proximity of various rivers, estuaries, bays and, of course, the Pacific Ocean. One meets a host of different aquatic birds, including ducks, gulls, herons, cormorants, least terns, and other graceful inhabitants of air and water.

Here are a few fun photos that have gathered in my computer.

One of many pigeons in the city.
One of many pigeons in the city.
Small birds on sunlit grass one morning along Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade.
Small birds on sunlit grass one morning along Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade.
A black-crowned night heron perched atop the Pier Cafe.
A black-crowned night heron perched atop the Pier Cafe.
A seagull stands on Broadway Pier over San Diego Bay.
A seagull stands on Broadway Pier over San Diego Bay.
Strangely, a great blue heron stands in the southwest corner of Balboa Park one morning, watching people walk up a path.
Strangely, a great blue heron stands in the southwest corner of Balboa Park one morning, watching people walk up a path.
Ducks hang out by the pool in the San Diego Museum of Art's May S. Marcy Sculpture Court.
Ducks hang out by the pool in the San Diego Museum of Art’s May S. Marcy Sculpture Court.
A mother duck and two ducklings walk among leaves on the Our River mural in Mission Valley.
A mother duck and two ducklings walk among leaves on the Our River mural in Mission Valley.
Morning ducks near the Children's Park Fountain.
Morning ducks in Children’s Park downtown.
A morning walk past the Children's Park Fountain near many birds.
A morning walk past the Children’s Park Fountain near many birds.
Gulls enjoy a beautiful morning in the city.
Gulls enjoy another beautiful morning in the city.

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!

A short hike in San Diego National Wildlife Refuge.

There was no need to alter this photo in the slightest way. The colors appeared astonishingly bright this morning in the sunlit mountains and hills east of San Diego.
There was no need to alter this photo in the slightest way. Nature’s colors appeared astonishingly rich this morning in the sunlit mountains and hills east of San Diego.

My 9:00 hike this morning turned out to be shorter than expected. That’s because I was the only one to show up for a scheduled nature hike in a beautiful section of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge. Following directions, I parked a few minutes early at the Par 4 trailhead in Jamul, near the Cottonwood Golf Course. I kept checking my watch, hoping the US Fish & Wildlife Service ranger would arrive. I was looking forward to identifying the spring wildflowers and flowering plants along the trail. But it wasn’t to be. I suppose the event was cancelled due to yesterday’s rain.

I didn’t walk far because I didn’t want to adversely impact the still wet trail. Near the trailhead the footing was packed and firm, and my shoes barely made an impression, but perhaps a quarter mile into my hike there was just too much mud to continue.

As you can see, the hills of San Diego are bright green! This winter has been very rainy. During the summer the green in these photos will vanish as the native grasses, sagebrush and scrubby chaparral dry out in the relentless Southern California sun.

During my short hike, I did capture a few photos of tiny flowers and a bird! I’m sorry to report that I can’t properly identify them. Perhaps you can!

Sign at the Par 4 trailhead includes information for hikers and those on horseback. The trail follows the Sweetwater River in Jamul.
Sign at the Par 4 trailhead includes information for hikers and those on horseback. The trail follows the Sweetwater River in Jamul.
The San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex includes four areas designed to protect wildlife in Southern California.
The San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex includes four areas designed to protect wildlife in Southern California. (Click image to enlarge.)
There are patchy wildlife refuges in some of San Diego County's undeveloped areas. This map shops where they are located. The Par 4 trailhead is near the top of the bigger green blob.
There are various wildlife refuges in San Diego County’s undeveloped areas. This map shows where several managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service are located. The Par 4 trailhead is near the top of the bigger green blob.
A wet trail heads west over a green landscape. Many birds were seen flying across the open space.
A damp trail leads west over a green landscape. Many birds were seen flying across this open space. The morning’s short hike was made pleasurable by a fresh cool breeze and warm sunlight.
Beautiful tiny yellow flowers and raindrops on green leaves. What this plant is, I don't know. Leave a comment if you do!
Beautiful tiny yellow flowers and lingering raindrops on green leaves. What this plant is, I don’t know. Leave a comment if you do!
I spotted this little bird perched on a twig near the hiking trail.
I spotted this little bird perched on a twig near the hiking trail.
I tried to identify this small bird, using my California Birds pocket guide, but I couldn't decide. If you know, leave a comment!
I tried to identify this small bird using my California Birds pocket guide, but I couldn’t decide. If you know, leave a comment!
I'm no expert, but I did find these tiny jewel-like lavender flowers to be beautiful.
I’m no expert, but I did find these tiny jewel-like lavender flowers to be beautiful.
Dramatic white clouds in a blue sky. Natural beauty in San Diego's East County the day after a big storm.
Dramatic white clouds in a blue sky. Natural beauty in San Diego’s East County the day after a big storm.

After this very small hike, I drove along Highway 94 to Campo, winding my way through bright green rocky mountains. Then I headed back toward San Diego via Buckman Springs and Pine Valley, without any particular notion of where to stop. Then it occurred to me: Why not hike Cowles Mountain today? So I did, as you’ll see in the next blog post!

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!

Bird sightings along San Diego’s Embarcadero!

A seagull stands atop a pile of nets and floats on San Diego's picturesque G Street Pier.
A seagull stands atop a pile of nets and floats on San Diego’s picturesque G Street Pier.

You won’t believe all the birds I identified today during my walk along the Embarcadero. You really will not believe it!

Check out these fun flighty photos taken beside beautiful San Diego Bay!

American coots (also called mud hens) on rocks near the Marriott Marina.
American coots (also called mud hens) stand on rocks near the Marriott Marina.
A Canada goose on San Diego's Embarcadero! Now that's a very unusual sight! This bird seems to have joined a local flock of American coots. Maybe it was blown off course during the recent windy storm.
A Canada goose on San Diego’s Embarcadero! Now that’s a very unusual sight! This bird seems to have joined a local flock of American coots. Maybe it was blown off course during the recent windy storm.
Another strange bird near the sparkling water about to take flight! Oh, wait. My mistake.
Another strange bird near the sparkling water about to take flight! Oops. My mistake.
A female black-crowned night heron among rocks near the Embarcadero Marina Park South pier.
A female black-crowned night heron among rocks near the Embarcadero Marina Park South pier.
A gathering of pigeons on the grass at Embarcadero Marina Park North.
A gathering of pigeons on the grass at Embarcadero Marina Park North.
Rare exotic birds photographed in flight! Oops. Those are kites. Fooled me again.
Rare exotic birds photographed in flight! Oops. Those are actually colorful kites. Fooled me again!
I've arrived at Seaport Village. Okay, I'm certain these are real birds--maybe. Looks like a parrot, flamingo and some egrets.
I’ve arrived at Seaport Village. Okay, I’m certain these are real birds–maybe. Looks like a parrot, flamingo and some egrets.
Birds and sea lions await handouts of leftover fish parts. Early Saturday afternoon, and the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market is wrapping up.
Gulls, pelicans and sea lions await handouts of leftover fish parts. Early Saturday afternoon, and the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market is wrapping up.
Two sneaky gulls with watchful eyes.
Two sneaky gulls with hungry, watchful eyes.
There's gotta be some yummy fish scraps here somewhere!
There’s gotta be some yummy fish scraps here somewhere!
Commercial fishermen unload on the small dock behind this gate at Tuna Harbor. Birds wait eternally here, too!
Commercial fishermen unload on the small dock behind this gate at Tuna Harbor. Birds wait eternally here, too!
A bird in the sky above broad-winged sailboats flying across San Diego Bay.
A bird in the sky above broad-winged sailboats flying across San Diego Bay.
Seabirds love hanging out around the fishing vessels at Tuna Harbor.
Seabirds love hanging out around the fishing vessels at Tuna Harbor.
A snowy egret near the net of a live bait catching purse seiner.
A snowy egret near the net of a live bait catching purse seiner.
A double-crested cormorant flaps its wings in the water of San Diego Bay near the USS Midway.
A double-crested cormorant flaps its wings in the water of San Diego Bay near the USS Midway.
Birds above an ocean wave, painted on a ceramic tile by a young person. Many fun tile benches along the Embarcadero were created for a project titled Celebrating the Big Bay in 2004.
Birds above an ocean wave, painted on a ceramic tile by a young person. Many fun tile benches along the Embarcadero were created for a project called Celebrating the Big Bay in 2004.
Many birds in flight.
Many birds in flight.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of fun stuff to check out!

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Pelicans and gulls near La Jolla Cove.

Brown pelicans come in for a landing on a cliffside near La Jolla Cove.
Brown pelicans come in for a landing on a cliff near La Jolla Cove.

Yesterday I spent some time at one of the most beautiful places in San Diego. I walked along the cliffs near La Jolla Cove, just taking in the fresh ocean breeze, sunshine and scenery.

I managed to get several fun photographs of pelicans and gulls flying above the water and perched on the rocks.

Sea birds fly along the water's edge as the surf breaks. The cliffs of Torrey Pines stretch in the distance.
Sea birds fly along the water’s edge as the surf breaks. The cliffs of Torrey Pines stretch in the distance.
A pelican and gull share a cliff above the turbulent, foaming Pacific Ocean.
A pelican and gull share a cliff above the turbulent, foaming Pacific Ocean.
A seagull descends gracefully with outstretched wings.
A seagull descends gracefully with outstretched wings.
Photo of pelican standing on a dark rock provides interesting contrast.
Photo of pelican standing on a dark rock provides interesting contrast.

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!

An easy walk along Shelter Island’s Shoreline Park.

At the southwest end of Shelter Island, near the end of Shoreline Park, are some works of art. The female life-size bronze sculpture is Pacific Spirit, by James Hubbell, 2002.
At the southwest end of Shelter Island, near the end of Shoreline Park, are some works of art. The female life-size bronze sculpture is Pacific Spirit, by James Hubbell, 2002.

I was off from work yesterday. In the late morning I headed down to Shelter Island. It’s another of my favorite places. After a bite to eat, I enjoyed an easy, peaceful walk while gathering photos for future blog posts. Expect some cool sights in the coming weeks!

The path that extends the length of narrow Shoreline Park is just about perfect. The park itself is located at the very edge of the bay, stretching from one end of Shelter Island to the other. In one place the path traverses what seems to be more of a large parking lot than a park, but no matter. I love the place. It’s relaxed, usually non-crowded, and just beautiful. There are amazing views of San Diego Bay, sailboats and a large variety of ships, scenic Point Loma, a slice of ocean horizon, the distant Coronado Islands (when it isn’t hazy), busy Naval Air Station North Island and the skyline of downtown San Diego. I often see people sitting on lawn chairs with binoculars, just watching boats pass by, jets take off from North Island, and birds that wheel and dive through the blue sky.

People walk along the pathway which stretches down narrow Shoreline Park. Grass, benches and picnic tables invite both locals and tourists.
People walk along the pathway which stretches down narrow Shoreline Park. Grass, benches and picnic tables invite both locals and tourists.
Bougainvillea and lath provide shade on a sunny warm summer morning. Several of these structures are found along the park
Bougainvillea and lath provide shade on a sunny warm summer morning. Several of these structures are found along the park.
Bicyclist cruises past a raised Osprey nesting platform. A sign nearby provides an explanation.
Bicyclist cruises past a raised Osprey nesting platform. A sign nearby provides an explanation.
A large Navy warship entering San Diego harbor is seen beyond the Shelter Island pier. Downtown skyscrapers appear misty in the background.
A large Navy warship entering San Diego harbor is seen beyond the Shelter Island pier. Downtown skyscrapers appear misty in the background.
Fathom Bistro, Bait and Tackle sign at foot of Shelter Island fishing pier. They've been open a couple years now.
Fathom Bistro, Bait and Tackle sign at foot of Shelter Island fishing pier. They’ve been open a couple years now.
Someone next to the pathway along Shoreline Park balanced a bunch of rocks up on top of each other. Perhaps it was someone who was fishing.
Someone next to the pathway along Shoreline Park balanced a bunch of rocks up on top of each other. Perhaps it was someone who was fishing.
Another cool photo of Shelter Island's dinghy landing. I published a post with similar photos a year or two ago.
Another cool photo of Shelter Island’s dinghy landing. I published a post with similar photos a year or two ago.
Huge swaths of sand along the water are simply covered with gull tracks.
Huge swaths of sand along the water are simply covered with gull tracks.
Someone spreads a big bag of old bread along the small Shelter Island beach, sending the seagulls into a wild feeding frenzy!
Someone spreads a big bag of old bread along the small Shelter Island beach, sending the seagulls into a wild feeding frenzy!
It's a quiet weekday morning outside the Outboard Boating Club of San Diego's building near the Shelter Island boat ramp. A nearby flagpole is empty.
It’s a quiet weekday morning outside the Outboard Boating Club of San Diego’s building near the Shelter Island boat ramp. A nearby flagpole is empty.
At the base of the flagpole: The Holiday Express. This plaque cast of brass from the aircraft carrier USS Bunkerhill CV-17 is dedicated to that gallant ship and her courageous crew.
At the base of the flagpole: The Holiday Express. This plaque cast of brass from the aircraft carrier USS Bunkerhill CV-17 is dedicated to that gallant ship and her courageous crew.
Perhaps you remember my blog post "Wally the sociable sea lion greets boaters". I saw him again during another walk at the same boat launching area!
Perhaps you remember my fun blog post “Wally the sociable sea lion greets boaters.” I saw him again during another walk at the same boat launching area!
Floating peacefully along the edge of San Diego Bay, enjoying the calm water and bright sunshine.
Floating peacefully along the edge of San Diego Bay, enjoying the calm water and bright sunshine.
Someone ready to row off Shelter Island's dinghy landing, perhaps heading to a boat moored nearby.
Someone is ready to row off Shelter Island’s dinghy landing, perhaps heading to a boat moored nearby.

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