Huge wire insects swarm on park fence!

Dozens of very large insects have swarmed onto the chain link fence at Adams Community Park in Normal Heights! They seem to be attracted to the nearby Adams Recreation Center!

The insects, made of twisted metal wire, include butterflies, beetles, praying mantises, flies, ants, spiders, damselflies, ladybugs, moths, ticks, bees, dragonflies…and bug-eyed species that seem to defy classification!

Does anyone know who created this very cool wire artwork? Was it a project of school kids? Were these fashioned at the recreation center? Please leave a comment if you know anything!

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!

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!

Natural beauty near the Sikes Adobe.

Early this morning, before the summer sun could make hiking very hot, I enjoyed a slow, quiet walk near the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead in Escondido.

I followed the Coast to Crest Trail for a bit, passed over Kit Carson Creek, and gazed off toward the willows and sycamores that line the edge of Lake Hodges and the San Dieguito River.

I lifted my camera when my eyes happened to perceive another instance of natural beauty.

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!

Create a cool beehouse for your garden!

Anyone can create a cool beehouse for their garden. All you really need is a drill!
Anyone can create a beehouse for their garden. All you really need is a drill!

Before my hike through the Sweetwater Marsh on Saturday, I took a stroll through the Native Pollinator Garden just outside the Living Coast Discovery Center. After reading a variety of informative signs, I paused in the garden to look at some very cool beehouses!

As I read about the beehouses, it occurred to me these would be extremely easy to make.

I took photographs just in case anyone reading this blog would like to make a beehouse for their own garden! Read the captions to learn more about the habits of ground-dwelling solitary bees and the materials you can use to make them a beehouse!

The Native Pollinator Garden at the Living Coast Discovery Center includes some very cool beehouses!
The Native Pollinator Garden just outside the Living Coast Discovery Center includes a couple of very cool beehouses!

Bees are extremely important. More than two thirds of the world's crop species rely on pollinators.
Bees are extremely important. More than two thirds of the world’s crop species rely on pollinators.

A large Feed a Bee Pollinator Habitat in the native garden provides shelter for solitary bees and information for the curious.
A large Feed a Bee Pollinator Habitat in the native garden provides shelter for solitary bees and information for the curious.

The rear of this bee condo! Holes have been drilled in a variety of materials, including logs, lumber and bricks.
The rear of this bee condo! Holes have been drilled in a variety of materials, including logs, lumber and bricks.

Solitary bees don't live in colonies. They often seek out hollows of fallen logs, bark and branches. They make up a majority of the 4000 bee species in the United States.
Solitary bees don’t live in colonies. They often seek out hollows of fallen logs, bark and branches. They make up a majority of the 4000 bee species in the United States.

A close look at the fun beehouse. I think even I could make one of these.
A close look at the fun beehouse. I think even I could make one of these.

Creating various hiding places attracts solitary bees, which can be as small as an eighth of an inch.
Creating various hiding places attracts solitary bees, which can be as small as an eighth of an inch.

Feeling inspired? Handy with a hammer and nails? Make your beehouse into a cool work of art!
Feeling inspired? Handy with a hammer and nails? Fashion your beehouse into a unique work of art!

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!

Beautiful bougainvillea in Mission Valley.

I took these four photographs of bougainvillea several days ago while walking near the Hazard Center trolley station in Mission Valley. The sun had broken through the morning clouds and was shining on clusters of beautiful red bracts and white flowers. Upon examining these images, I noticed I’d captured some tiny insects!

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!

Do you enjoy beautiful things? Visit my other photography blog which I call A Small World Full of Beauty.

Wildlife paintings at Tecolote Canyon Natural Park.

Common Buckeye. Anna Le and Clarisa Cuevas.
Common Buckeye. Anna Le and Clarisa Cuevas.

On a fence behind the Nature Center at Tecolote Canyon Natural Park one can find many colorful paintings of native wildlife. The fence follows a dirt road that leads to a hiking trail through Tecolote Canyon.

The paintings of spiders, butterflies, beetles and other insects were recently completed by students at University City High School. I believe the paintings of mammals, reptiles and birds have been on the fence for some time.

Colorful paintings of insects and other wildlife on a fence behind the Nature Center at Tecolote Canyon Natural Park.
Colorful paintings of insects and other wildlife on a fence behind the Nature Center at Tecolote Canyon Natural Park.

California Root Borer Beetle. Lucero Rayos.
California Root Borer Beetle. Lucero Rayos.

Black and Yellow Garden Spider. Nour Barbakh.
Black and Yellow Garden Spider. Nour Barbakh.

Anise Swallowtail. Lawdyka Solano.
Anise Swallowtail. Lawdyka Solano.

Spotted Cucumber Beetle. Kayla Kenney.
Spotted Cucumber Beetle. Kayla Kenney.

Tarantula Hawk. Andrea Angeles and Christian Covarrubias.
Tarantula Hawk. Andrea Angeles and Christian Covarrubias.

Western Tiger Swallowtail. Tyler Coehrane and Lauren Ferrer.
Western Tiger Swallowtail. Tyler Coehrane and Lauren Ferrer.

Darkling Stink Beetle. Morgan Boland.
Darkling Stink Beetle. Morgan Boland.

Roseate Skimmer. Issac Felcher.
Roseate Skimmer. Issac Felcher.

Silver Argiope. Zaynab Albaghdadi.
Silver Argiope. Zaynab Albaghdadi.

American Lady. Aurora Godinez Quevedo.
American Lady. Aurora Godinez Quevedo.

Green Lynx Spider. Jamison Legaspi.
Green Lynx Spider. Jamison Legaspi.

Harlequin Shield Bug. Jakob De La Cruz.
Harlequin Shield Bug. Jakob De La Cruz.

Datura Weevil. Jacob Stoermer.
Datura Weevil. Jacob Stoermer.

Green Fruit Beetle. Makayla Srioudom.
Green Fruit Beetle. Makayla Srioudom.

Vivid Dancer Damselfly. Miyoko Seldon and Andrew Bayot.
Vivid Dancer Damselfly. Miyoko Seldon and Andrew Bayot.

Pruinose Squash Bee. Quincy Stone.
Pruinose Squash Bee. Quincy Stone.

California Sister Butterfly. Steffany Shapow.
California Sister Butterfly. Steffany Shapow.

Coyote.
Coyote.

California King Snake.
California King Snake.

Great Blue Heron.
Great Blue Heron.

Striped Skunk.
Striped Skunk.

Southern Pacific Rattlesnake.
Southern Pacific Rattlesnake.

Western Scrub Jay.
Western Scrub Jay.

Raccoon.
Raccoon.

Red Tailed Hawk.
Red Tailed Hawk.

Southern Alligator Lizard.
Southern Alligator Lizard.

Anna's Hummingbird.
Anna’s Hummingbird.

Bobcat.
Bobcat.

Pacific Gopher Snake.
Pacific Gopher Snake.

Gray Fox.
Gray Fox.

Western Fence Lizard.
Western Fence Lizard.

Great Horned Owl.
Great Horned Owl.

Spotted Towhee.
Spotted Towhee.

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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Caterpillar walks on crab beneath birds!

Bronze birds near entrance of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge and regional complex headquarters in Chula Vista.
Bronze birds near entrance of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge and regional complex headquarters in Chula Vista.

Having some fun!

Today I visited the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge and Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista. I should have a couple blog posts coming up with lots of photos.

First, here’s a fearless caterpillar that I spotted walking on a crab under some birds. The crab and bronze shorebirds are artwork in front of the wildlife refuge headquarters! The visiting caterpillar is a resident of the surrounding marsh. Perhaps it’s an art lover!

I searched the internet for a few minutes, trying to identify this particular fuzzy caterpillar. No success. Leave a comment if you know!

The representation of a crab underneath the bronze shorebirds is being visited by a living creature.
An inanimate crab beneath the bronze shorebirds is being visited by a living creature.

A fuzzy caterpillar makes its way over the crab.
A fuzzy caterpillar makes its way over the crab.

Wildlife living in the Sweetwater Marsh meets art.
Wildlife living in the Sweetwater Marsh meets art.

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!

Plants that attract birds, butterflies in San Diego.

Purple Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis) attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and a wide range of feeding insects and birds.
Purple Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis) attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and a wide range of feeding insects and birds.

Tweet Street park on Cortez Hill has a sign with some very useful information. It shows shrubs and trees that attract local San Diego birds and butterflies.

Please refer to the information on the sign and my photo captions. As you can see, some of these plants are native to San Diego. All are beautiful and would fit nicely in most San Diego gardens. And all naturally attract winged life. Even in the heart of the big city.

A sign in the Tweet Street linear park on Cortez Hill shows beautiful plants that attract local San Diego birds and butterflies.
A sign at the Tweet Street linear park on Cortez Hill, a neighborhood in downtown San Diego.  It shows beautiful plants that attract local birds and butterflies.

Jacaranda (Jacaranda acutifolia) is a flowering tree that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. The trees host insects that are a food supply for insectivorous birds such as finches.
Jacaranda (Jacaranda acutifolia) is a flowering tree that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. The trees host insects that are a food supply for insectivorous birds such as finches.

Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) is a San Diego native. White flowers in March attract hummingbirds and butterflies. In winter, red berries are food for many different birds.
Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) is a San Diego native. White flowers in March attract hummingbirds and butterflies. In winter, red berries are food for many different birds.

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora "Samuel Sommer") provides shade and perches for birds. The fragrant white flowers attract bees and hummingbirds.
Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora “Samuel Sommer”) provides shade and perches for birds. The fragrant white flowers attract bees and hummingbirds.

Butterfly Bush (Buddleja davidii "Purple Passion") has flowers that are a rich source of nectar, attracting hummingbirds and butterflies.
Butterfly Bush (Buddleja davidii “Purple Passion”) has flowers that are a rich source of nectar, attracting hummingbirds and butterflies.

Ornamental Strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis) has flowers, fruit and seeds that make a good food source for many birds.
Ornamental Strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis) has flowers, fruit and seeds that make a good food source for many birds.

Prostrate Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis "Prostratus") is an herb that attracts bees, butterflies and insects that many birds eat.
Prostrate Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis “Prostratus”) is an herb that attracts bees, butterflies and insects that many birds eat.

Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens) is a native clumping grass abundant with seeds that birds eat. The high grass tufts also serve as shelter.
Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens) is a native clumping grass.  It’s abundant with seeds that birds eat. The tall grass tufts also serve as shelter.

Rockrose (Cistus "Sunset") attracts birds and insects with its magenta color and fragrance.
Rockrose (Cistus “Sunset”) attracts birds and insects with its magenta color and fragrance.

Copper Canyon Daisy (Tagetes lemmonii) is native to Mexico and attracts butterflies with its strong lemon-mint fragrance.
Copper Canyon Daisy (Tagetes lemmonii) is native to Mexico.  It attracts butterflies most of the year with its strong lemon-mint fragrance.

Torch Lily (Kniphofia uvaria) also known as Red Hot Poker, produces sweet nectar that hummingbirds love.
Torch Lily (Kniphofia uvaria) also known as Red Hot Poker, produces sweet nectar that hummingbirds absolutely love.

Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus africanus) is a popular perennial that attracts both butterflies and hummingbirds.
Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus africanus) is a popular perennial that attracts both butterflies and 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!

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 fun and useful photos that you can share and enjoy!

Living colors captured in Zoro Butterfly Garden.

A monarch butterfly has found some milkweed. I snapped this photo just in time.
A monarch butterfly has found some milkweed. I snapped this photo just in time.

Early this afternoon I managed to capture some elusive living colors. I caught them with my camera, during a leisurely visit to Balboa Park’s beautiful Zoro Butterfly Garden.

Created in 1915 for the Panama-California Exposition, the unique amphitheatre-like stone grotto features meandering paths tucked beneath some shady trees. An easy stroll down into the hollow reveals a lush garden full of flowers specifically planted to attract butterflies. That wasn’t always the case. In 1935, during the California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park, this partially hidden area was called the Zoro Garden Nudist Colony!

In this peaceful garden you’ll experience monarch, sulfur and swallowtail butterflies, fluttering quickly past your astonished eyes. Most of the time, my old camera finger reacted much too slowly! But I got a few pics!

An artistic bird bath in the garden depicts leaves, flowers and butterflies, naturally!
An artistic bird bath in the garden depicts leaves, flowers and butterflies, naturally!

A tiny insect takes a walk on a sweet sun-yellow carpet.
A tiny insect takes a walk on a sweet sun-yellow carpet.

Zoro Butterfly Garden contains rustic, ragged beauty along its stony walkways.
Zoro Butterfly Garden contains rustic, ragged beauty along its stony walkways.

This sneaky lizard would've been happy to capture a quick butterfly, too! I don't know if he had any luck.
This sneaky lizard would’ve been happy to capture a quick butterfly, too! I don’t know if he had any luck.

Cool close-up photo of red passion vine flower.
Cool close-up photo of red passion vine flower.

I'm not sure who this guy is. Is it a Mourning Cloak? Some kind of moth? If you know, leave a comment.
I’m not sure who this guy is. Is it a Mourning Cloak? Some kind of moth? If you know, leave a comment.

Sunlight reflects from a butterfly winging past some weathered public art in a section of the garden.
Sunlight reflects from a butterfly winging past some weathered public art in a section of the garden.

Painted mural in Balboa Park's Zoro Butterfly Garden shows Orange-barred Sulphur and Cassia.
Painted mural in Balboa Park’s Zoro Butterfly Garden shows an Orange-barred Sulphur and Cassia.

Another section of this informative artwork depicts Passionvine and a Gulf Fritillary.
Another section of this informative artwork depicts Passionvine and a Gulf Fritillary.

A third section shows that Monarch butterflies are attracted to Milkweed.
A third section shows that Monarch butterflies are attracted to Milkweed.

The underside of this Gulf fritillary almost looks like a torn, crumpled brown leaf.
The underside of this Gulf fritillary almost looks like a torn, crumpled brown leaf.

A swallowtail butterfly takes flight!
A swallowtail butterfly takes flight!

Looking upward from the lush hollow where butterflies thrive, toward blue sky and fluttering, living color.
Looking upward from the lush hollow where butterflies thrive, toward blue sky and fluttering, living color.

An Anise Swallowtail spreads its wings on a glorious day in San Diego's wonder-filled Balboa Park.
An Anise Swallowtail spreads its wings on a glorious day in San Diego’s wonder-filled Balboa Park.

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