Searching for bats in Balboa Park!

As evening approaches, people slowly gather by the Balboa Park lily pond to watch for bats. The event was organized by the San Diego Natural History Museum.
As evening approaches, people slowly gather by the Balboa Park lily pond to watch for bats. The event was organized by the San Diego Natural History Museum.

This evening I joined a small group of people by the Lily Pond in Balboa Park searching for bats!

The San Diego Natural History Museum held the dusk event as part of the 2018 City Nature Challenge. The worldwide challenge–which is being held in almost 70 cities– encourages ordinary citizens to use their smartphones to record as many local flora and fauna as they can over a 4-day period. Images are submitted via the iNaturalist APP for identification! (If you want to see San Diego County’s totals thus far, here’s the link.)

Anyway, I arrived at the Lily Pond before sunset and was greeted by a couple of friendly experts representing the San Diego Natural History Museum. I was shown some cool equipment, videos and specimens, then stood by as a super sensitive microphone was turned on in order to detect the high frequency ultrasonic chirp-like noises produced by echolocating bats!

While we waited and the sky darkened, I learned a few fascinating facts. I learned that the bats most common in Balboa Park are the Mexican free-tailed bat, the hoary bat, and the western red bat. I learned some bats are solitary, and feed where insects aren’t abundant enough to support large colonies of bats. I learned bats drink by rapidly skimming above a body of water– which has been observed at the park’s lily pond. I learned some bats can fly as fast as a hundred miles per hour and as high as 10,000 feet! I also learned bats often feed around lights where flying insects gather, often live in the dead fronds of palm trees, and absolutely love hanging out under bridges.

Did we see or detect any bats? None were seen in the darkness, but the microphone did record the acoustic signature of a nearby Mexican free-tail!

When bats fly about and utilize echolocation, a microphone detects the high frequency sound and software produces a sonogram. Different bats can be recognized by their unique acoustic signatures.
When bats fly about and use echolocation, a sensitive microphone detects the high frequency sound and software produces a sonogram. Different bat species can be recognized by their unique acoustic signatures.
Demonstrating a powerful directional microphone, which is mounted on a long pole.
Demonstrating a powerful directional microphone, which is mounted on a long pole.
A friendly volunteer who travels around the county observing and recording bats points to several specimens. The one indicated is a Mexican free-tailed.
A friendly volunteer who travels around the county observing and recording bats points to several preserved specimens. The one indicated is a Mexican free-tailed.
Several people have gathered to learn about bats shortly before dusk. A curious duck listens in.
Several people have gathered to learn about bats shortly before dusk. A curious duck listens in.
Bats often live in the dead clustered fronds of palm trees. I see a passing gull and a nearly full moon above the Casa del Prado.
Bats often live in the dead clustered fronds of palm trees. I see a passing gull and a nearly full moon above the Casa del Prado.
Darkening palm trees above the Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park. Perhaps some bats are hanging out in these.
Darkening palm trees above the Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park. Perhaps some bats are hanging out in these.
Pointing at the cool bat-detecting instrument. As darkness fell, we recorded one Mexican free-tailed bat, but it must have been too chilly this evening for much activity.
Pointing at the cool bat-detecting instrument. As darkness fell, we recorded one Mexican free-tailed bat, but apparently it was too cold this evening for much bat activity.

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!

Thought-provoking contrasts in Mission Valley.

Beautiful roses planted between the Town and Country Hotel and busy Fashion Valley Road in Mission Valley.
Beautiful roses planted between the Town and Country Hotel and busy Fashion Valley Road in Mission Valley.

This morning, after I took photos of the funny sign at the Town and Country Hotel (see my previous post), I walked north up Fashion Valley Road and turned east on Riverwalk Drive, following the San Diego River. I then passed under Highway 163 via the San Diego River Trail, and arrived at the Hazard Center shopping mall. From there I followed several streets to work.

During my walk between the Town and Country and Hazard Center I took a series of interesting photographs. When I reviewed my photos this evening, I realized they presented complex and thought-provoking contrasts.

Morning sprinklers have irrigated another perfect rose.
Morning sprinklers have irrigated another perfect rose.
A duck in the San Diego River, as seen from the pedestrian bridge between the Town and Country and the Fashion Valley Transit Center.
A duck in the San Diego River, as seen from the pedestrian bridge between the Town and Country and the Fashion Valley Transit Center.
Dozens of tame river ducks like to gather by the bus station to eat crumbs offered by humans.
Dozens of tame river ducks like to gather by the bus station to eat crumbs offered by humans.
Continuing east along Riverwalk Drive, looking at greenery by the San Diego River.
Continuing east along Riverwalk Drive, looking at native greenery by the San Diego River.
Wild, ragged sunflower blossoms ablaze in morning light.
Wild, ragged sunflower blossoms ablaze in morning light.
Fresh green sycamore leaves by the walking path.
Fresh green sycamore leaves by the walking path.
I'm approaching some major construction around where Highway 163 passes under Friars road north of the river. The project is calculated to ease traffic flow.
I’m approaching some major construction near the place where Highway 163 passes under Friars Road north of the river. The project is calculated to ease traffic flow.
Urban development requires work, resources and extensive planning.
Wild grass and urban development.
Heavy machinery sculpting the Earth.
Heavy machinery sculpting the Earth.
Construction worker by stacked fencing.
Construction worker by stacked security fencing.
Ants work busily on a nearby native flower.
Ants work busily on a nearby native flower.
A perfect bloom planted near the Hazard Center shopping center, contrasted with bare concrete.
A perfect bloom planted near the Hazard Center shopping center, contrasted with bare concrete.
A mural on the south side of Hazard Center shows people flocking to the mall.
A mural on the south side of Hazard Center shows people flocking to the mall.
Bronze sculpture at Hazard Center of Bruce R. Hazard - Everyone's Friend. For almost a century R.E. Hazard Contracting Company has built many of San Diego's freeway, road, commercial and subdivision projects.
Bronze sculpture at Hazard Center of Bruce R. Hazard – Everyone’s Friend. For almost a century R.E. Hazard Contracting Company has helped build many of San Diego’s freeway, road, commercial and subdivision projects.
Another nearby sculpture of Bruce's father features this plaque. "Pappy" R.E. Hazard, Sr. 1880-1975. A man's man, paper boy, businessman, horseman, hunter, fisherman.
Another nearby sculpture of Bruce’s father features this plaque. “Pappy” R.E. Hazard, Sr. 1880-1975. A man’s man, paper boy, businessman, horseman, hunter, fisherman.
Be Just and Fear Not. Pappy Hazard, founder of a major construction firm in San Diego, collected old wagons and stagecoaches. Today you can find much of his collection in Seeley Stable, a museum in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Be Just and Fear Not. Pappy Hazard, founder of a major construction firm in San Diego, collected old wagons and stagecoaches. Today you can find much of his collection at Seeley Stable, a museum in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

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 natural beauty of Sweetwater Marsh.

Early this afternoon I enjoyed a short walk through Sweetwater Marsh. I’ve already blogged about a guided hike through the marsh here, where you’ll find a bit more detailed information.

My solo walk today was for quiet introspection. And the absorption 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!

Exquisite flower arrangements at ikebana show.

The highlight of my walk through Balboa Park today was the San Diego Wabi Spring Flower Show. My feet often halted as I passed dozens of exquisite Japanese ikebana flower arrangements. My camera couldn’t stop snapping. As you will see, the beauty was indescribable.

This annual event, which is held for one weekend inside the Casa del Prado, provides a breathtaking exhibition of the traditional Japanese art, as taught by the Ohara School of Ikebana. In addition to the many heavenly flower arrangements, there were demonstrations by local ikebana masters for those who are interested in learning about or practicing this ancient art form.

Many of these photos are close-ups of flower arrangements. I tried my own “hand” at artistic composition.

I’m so envious of the talent displayed at this show. Every careful work of floral art was a poem for the eyes.

The San Diego Wabi Study Group Annual Flower Show, with beautiful ikebana arrangements and demonstrations, was held this weekend in the Casa del Prado in Balboa Park.
The San Diego Wabi Study Group Annual Flower Show, with beautiful ikebana arrangements and demonstrations, was held this weekend in the Casa del Prado in Balboa Park.
Many superb examples of exquisite ikebana Japanese flower arrangement pleased the eyes of delighted visitors.
Many superb examples of exquisite ikebana Japanese flower arrangement pleased the eyes of delighted visitors.

Watching a demonstration of traditional ikebana flower arrangement. Every work in this ancient art form is like a visual poem.
Young eyes observe a demonstration of traditional ikebana flower arrangement. Every work in this ancient art form is like a visual poem.

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!

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!

Photos from 14 nature hikes around San Diego.

I didn’t walk yesterday. I gave my legs a rest, watched football, did some work on the computer. I really missed being outside.

While Cool San Diego Sights tends to concentrate on walks in the city, I’ve taken quite a few photographs while journeying through or near natural beauty. My hikes are generally easy. Their central purpose is stimulate the mind and senses.

Here are photos from 14 nature hikes all around San Diego. Click the following links to discover trails of wonder near and far. Perhaps they’ll inspire you to see what’s out there.

Every walk in one’s life can open unexpected vistas. Natural beauty and adventure await in every direction…

A hike from Kumeyaay Lake to the Old Mission Dam.

A hike down to the grinding rocks at Mission Trails.

Beautiful San Diego hiking trail welcomes wheelchairs.

Views of San Diego from a hike up Cowles Mountain.

Photos of a nature walk in Tijuana River Estuary.

Photos from a short hike through Sweetwater Marsh.

Nature and history on a walk in Los Peñasquitos Canyon.

A walk along rocks south of the OB Pier.

An amazing walk from Point La Jolla to Cuvier Park.

A short hike along Lake Poway Trail.

Beautiful photos of sunrise on Mount Laguna.

Flowers along a trail into Balboa Park’s Florida Canyon.

Hiking Torrey Pines State Reserve’s Beach Trail.

Torrey Pines State Reserve’s Guy Fleming Trail.

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

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Photos of winter along San Diego River.

Temperatures are dropping. It’s starting to feel a bit more like winter. Nights in downtown are chilly. Our first storm is coming.

This morning I left home while it was still dark and headed to a stretch of the San Diego River in Mission Valley. After the sun rose, I walked along the river from Qualcomm Way to Mission Center Road.

Ducks were feeding. The slanting morning light brightened yellow leaves. Farther to the east, a thin layer of fog hovered above smooth water. You can see it in the beautiful photograph that I saved for last.

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!