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!

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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.

Volunteers restore habitat in San Dieguito River Valley!

Hard-working volunteers remove non-native vegetation in a small part of the San Dieguito River Valley.
Hard-working volunteers remove invasive vegetation in a small area of the San Dieguito River Valley.

Today I happened upon a bunch of energetic volunteers working to restore habitat in the San Dieguito River Valley! They were removing non-native vegetation near the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead!

Lots of invasive, rapidly growing wild mustard appeared to be the main problem. I also learned from a friendly San Dieguito River Park ranger that mustard is highly flammable, much more so than California coastal sage and chaparral plants that are native to our arid region.

Today’s work, coinciding with Family Volunteer Day, was an effort of several organizations, including the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy. Their mission is to implement the vision of the San Dieguito River Park, a greenway that stretches all the way from Volcan Mountain near Julian to Dog Beach in Del Mar! Their conservation and educational programs, along with their purchases of land in the River Park planning area, will ensure that the beautiful San Dieguito River Valley will be a rich and healthy natural treasure for many lifetimes to come!

Want to learn more? Or maybe get involved? Here’s their website!

This Saturday event was part of Family Volunteer Day, a worldwide day of service promoted by generationOn.
This Saturday event was part of Family Volunteer Day, a worldwide day of service promoted by generationOn.
Youth have fun while they work to make the Earth a healthier place.
Youth have fun while they work to make the Earth a healthier place.
A San Dieguito River Park ranger had brought many pots of native lemonade berry to plant.
A San Dieguito River Park ranger had brought many pots of native lemonade berry to plant.
Another perfect day to work outdoors and help the environment!
Another perfect day to work outdoors and help the environment!

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!

Are you a blogger? Do you want to help make the world a better place? You might want to join Bloggers Lifting Others Generously.

Photos of Family Day at Tecolote Canyon Natural Park.

Someone walks toward the Nature Center on Tecolote Family Day.
Someone walks toward the Nature Center on Tecolote Family Day.

Today I headed over to Tecolote Canyon Natural Park. While I frequently drive around this narrow San Diego city park, which serves as a nature preserve inside Tecolote Canyon east of Mission Bay, I’ve never taken a single step inside. When I saw that an event called Family Day would be happening today, I decided to pay a visit!

What did I discover? Read the photo captions to find out!

Sign near entrance of the Nature Center provides info about Tecolote Canyon Natural Park.
A sign near entrance to the Nature Center provides information about Tecolote Canyon Natural Park.
A narrow strip of natural habitat preserved in San Diego. Tecolote Canyon features hiking trails and a refuge for wildlife.
A narrow strip of natural habitat preserved in San Diego. Tecolote Canyon features hiking trails and a refuge for wildlife.
Sign inside the Tecolote Nature Center. The park was originally dedicated in 1977. Houses, yards and streets surround this area where the native environment still survives.
Sign inside the Tecolote Nature Center. The park was originally dedicated in 1977. Houses, yards and streets surround this area where the native environment still survives.
Many interpretive displays can be found in the Nature Center. The coyote is Tecolote Canyon's largest predator.
Many interpretive displays can be found in the Nature Center. The coyote is Tecolote Canyon’s largest predator.
One sign describes San Diego's Coastal Sage Scrub habitat, which is found in a small part of the world, along the coast of Southern California into Mexico.
One sign describes San Diego’s Coastal Sage Scrub habitat, which is found in a small part of the world, along the coast of Southern California into Mexico.
The Brown Towhee is one of many birds one might spot in the canyon.
The Brown Towhee is one of many birds one might spot in the canyon.
Along Tecolote Creek lies the Riparian Woodland habitat. Water attracts animals from the dry hills, and native trees like willows, cottonwoods and sycamores grow on the creek's banks.
Along Tecolote Creek lies the Riparian Woodland habitat. Water attracts animals from the dry hills, and native trees like willows, cottonwoods and sycamores grow near the creek’s banks.
One of the displays shows Lemonadeberry (a common chaparral shrub in San Diego), Fuchsia Flowered Gooseberry, and a California Thrasher.
One of the displays shows Lemonadeberry (a common chaparral shrub in San Diego), Fuchsia Flowered Gooseberry, and a California Thrasher.
A topographical representation of Tecolote Canyon, which you can see directly below Mission Bay. Up is west, right is north.
A topographical representation of curving Tecolote Canyon, which you can see directly below Mission Bay. Up is west, right is north.
Many of the plants and animals now in Tecolote Canyon are the same as those here 200 years ago. Golden eagles and mountain lions, however, have vanished because this natural space is limited in size.
Many of the plants and animals now in Tecolote Canyon are the same as those here 200 years ago. Golden eagles and mountain lions, however, have vanished because this natural space is too limited in size.
Families enjoy a special day to learn about the environment. It's Tecolote Family Day! There were lots of educational displays and activities at the Nature Center.
Families enjoy a special day and learn about the canyon’s environment. It’s Tecolote Family Day! There were lots of educational displays and activities at the Nature Center.
Special events at Tecolote Family Day included a scavenger hunt for kids, art, music, dance and a silent auction.
Activities at Tecolote Family Day included a scavenger hunt for kids, art, music, dance and a silent auction.
Inside the Nature Center, one table had lots of displays concerning insects! Another one had snakes.
Inside the Nature Center, one table had lots of displays concerning insects! Another one had snakes.
At another table I was shown a coyote skull.
At another table I was shown a coyote skull.
I believe these beautiful poppy paintings were part of the silent auction.
I believe these beautiful poppy paintings were part of the silent auction.
A friendly parrot was at a booth promoting Zovargo, a local company which offers animal summer camps for kids.
A friendly parrot was at a booth promoting Zovargo, a local business that offers animal summer camps for kids.
These kids were dancing to a fun song about pollination!
These kids were dancing to a fun song about pollination!
Nearby I discovered the Tecolote Native Plant Nursery.
Nearby I discovered the Tecolote Native Plant Nursery.
Work is ongoing to take back the native habitat from invading plant species.
Work is ongoing to take back the native habitat from invading plant species.
I saw some signs about the importance of composting. It enhances soil and protects watersheds.
I saw some signs about the importance of composting. It enhances soil and protects watersheds.
Behind the Nature Center, near an amphitheater and native garden, I saw this e'waa, a simple willow branch structure built by the Native American Kumeyaay.
Behind the Nature Center, near an amphitheater and native garden, I saw this example of an e’waa, a simple willow branch structure built by the Native American Kumeyaay.
A sign depicts the Tecolote Watershed. Pollutants can flow down the creek and enter the soil, Mission Bay and eventually the Pacific Ocean.
A sign depicts the Tecolote Watershed. Pollutants can flow down the creek and enter the soil, Mission Bay and eventually the Pacific Ocean.
Several signs can be found around a small native garden. This one, Aromas of the Canyon, depicts Black Sage, White Sage and California Sagebrush.
Several signs can be found around the small native garden. This one, Aromas of the Canyon, depicts Black Sage, White Sage and California Sagebrush.
On the way to the hiking trail that leads into Tecolote Canyon, one might spot this owl!
On the way to the hiking trail that leads into Tecolote Canyon, one might spot this owl!
Hikers read the sign at the Battle Trail trailhead.
Hikers read the sign at the Battle Trail trailhead.
Welcome to the Battle Trail - Nature's haven in the city.
Welcome to the Battle Trail – Nature’s haven in the city.
I start up the easy trail. The vegetation in Tecolote Canyon is still green in late spring, after a very rainy winter.
I start up the easy trail. The vegetation in Tecolote Canyon is still green in late spring, after a very rainy winter.
This lush greenery will soon dry out in the Southern California summer and turn mostly brown.
This lush greenery will soon dry out in the Southern California summer and turn mostly brown.
I am greeted by cheerful yellow sunflowers.
I am greeted by cheerful yellow sunflowers.
I believe this house on a post is for bats. I've seen similar boxes in other open space parks around San Diego.
I believe this house on a post is for bats. I’ve seen similar boxes in other open space parks around San Diego.
A family heads into Tecolote Canyon to explore nature.
A family heads into Tecolote Canyon to explore nature.

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!

Photos from a short hike through Sweetwater Marsh.

A group begins a nature hike down a trail at San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
A group begins an easy nature hike down a trail at San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

On Saturday I visited Gunpowder Point, just south of where the Sweetwater River empties into San Diego Bay. The marshy area is a wildlife refuge. It’s part of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, to be exact, and home of the popular Living Coast Discovery Center.

After visiting the Living Coast Discovery Center, I enjoyed a guided nature hike down a short trail through the Sweetwater Marsh.

I was pleasantly surprised by the bare natural beauty. I didn’t see a whole lot of wildlife during this visit, but I know our region’s marshes and estuaries are often teeming with birds. San Diego is part of the Pacific Flyway, a major route of migratory birds that stretches from Alaska to South America.

A map inside the nearby Living Coast Discovery Center show the location of the Sweetwater River and the marsh where it enters San Diego Bay.
A map inside the nearby Living Coast Discovery Center shows the location of the Sweetwater River and the marsh where it enters San Diego Bay.
Hiking through Chula Vista's protected Sweetwater Marsh on a sunny day. It's mid-May and the once green and flowering plants have begun to dry out.
Hiking through Chula Vista’s protected Sweetwater Marsh on a sunny day. It’s mid-May and the once green and flowering plants have begun to dry out.  In this photo I see some prickly pear cactus.  During the hike I also recognized black sage and coastal sagebrush.
Our guide shows us saltbush. It is adapted to the type of salty soil in this marsh on San Diego Bay. Its leaves taste salty!
Our guide shows us saltbush. It is adapted to the type of salty soil in this coastal marsh. Its leaves taste salty!
Sign by the trail. This area is called Gunpowder Point. During World War I, Hercules Powder Co. extracted potash and acetone here from kelp harvested offshore in the Pacific Ocean. These were used to make cordite, or smokeless gunpowder for the British.
Sign by the trail. This area is called Gunpowder Point. During World War I, Hercules Powder Co. extracted potash and acetone here from kelp harvested offshore in the Pacific Ocean. These were used to make cordite, also called smokeless gunpowder, for the British.
A sail on the bay beyond a drying field of San Diego Sunflowers.
A sail on the bay beyond a drying field of San Diego Sunflowers.
The short, easy hike is ideal for families.
The short, easy hike is ideal for families.
Some sunflowers are still yellow.
Some sunflowers are still yellow.
The San Diego Sunflower, or Bahiopsis laciniata, is often found in a coastal sage scrub environment.
The San Diego Sunflower, or Bahiopsis laciniata, is often found in a coastal sage scrub environment.
The Silver Strand and Coronado Cays can be seen across San Diego Bay.
The Silver Strand and Coronado Cays can be seen across San Diego Bay.
We've arrived at the wildlife reserve's narrow sandy shore. Birds could be seen here and there in the distance.
We’ve arrived at the wildlife refuge’s narrow sandy shore. Birds could be seen here and there in the distance.
As the group continues on, I linger to take in the sunshine and wide views. I notice what appears to be remnants of the potash manufacturing operation from years ago.
As the group continues on, I linger to take in the sunshine and wide views. I notice what appears to be remnants of the potash manufacturing operation from years ago. Some benches allow rest and meditation.
Stones and debris on a beach in the wildlife refuge.
Stones and debris on a beach in the wildlife refuge.
Some mysterious (to me) concrete ruins on Gunpowder Point.
Some mysterious (to me) concrete ruins on Gunpowder Point.
I arrived at a bird observation lookout. All was very quiet. I saw a California least tern hunting small fish along the water's edge. Few people seem to come out here.
I arrived at a bird observation structure. All was very quiet. I saw a California least tern hunting small fish along the water’s edge. Few people seem to come out here.
Depending on the tide, the area near the shore can be open water or a mudflat that supports shorebirds searching for food.
Depending on the tide, the area near the shore can be open water or a mudflat that supports shorebirds searching for food.
Bird's beaks are specially designed for feeding. Some beaks filter plants from the water, some grab flies out of the air, and some probe the mud.
Bird’s beaks are specially designed for feeding. Some beaks filter plants from the water, some grab flies out of the air, and some probe the mud.
The tide must have been out, because this platform stood above a drying mudflat.
The tide must have been out, because this platform stood above a drying mudflat.  I believe that might be bright green eelgrass in the shallow pool of water.
Mesembryanthemum crystallinum, or crystalline ice plant, is salt tolerant. My hike through the marsh produced some beautiful surprises.
Mesembryanthemum crystallinum, or crystalline ice plant, is salt tolerant. My hike through the marsh produced some beautiful surprises.
Hiking through an expanse of green in San Diego's South Bay.
Hiking through an expanse of green in San Diego’s South Bay.

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!

Kayakers, volunteers clean San Diego River Estuary!

Many ordinary people came out today to help clean up the San Diego River Estuary.
Many ordinary people came out today to help clean up the San Diego River Estuary.

Lots of good people volunteered to clean up the San Diego River Estuary today. Some took to kayaks, others walked along the shoreline, filling bags with nasty litter and debris. The river estuary, emptying into the Pacific Ocean between Mission Bay and Ocean Beach, is a very important wetland in this region, and millions of birds rely on it during their migrations. Small bits of trash ingested by birds and other wildlife can be fatal.

The estuary cleanup was organized by The San Diego River Park Foundation. Kayakers are permitted to enter the San Diego River Estuary only one time every year–during this special event. I walked along the river and saw what ordinary people can achieve when working unselfishly for the good of our world.

A sign directs people to the river cleanup.
A sign directs people to the river cleanup.
Beautiful white clouds are reflected in the calm water of the San Diego River.
Beautiful white clouds are reflected in the calm water of the San Diego River as it approaches the ocean.
Many birds make the river and its sandbanks their home, including ducks, herons and egrets.
Many birds make the river and its mud flats their home, including ducks, herons and egrets.
A photographer captures images of waterfowl swimming through grass down the river.
A photographer captures images of waterfowl swimming through grass down the river.
My camera isn't quite so fancy, but I did get an okay photo of this snowy egret!
My camera isn’t quite so fancy, but I did get an okay photo of this snowy egret!
As I walked west along the San Diego River, I noticed a number of kayaks out on the water.
As I walked west along the San Diego River, I noticed a number of kayaks out on the water.
A sign by the river describes the problem of stormwater pollution. During rains, a good deal of runoff enters the estuary, carrying all sorts of pollutants and trash. (I had to really alter this photo so we could make out what the old sign says.)
A sign by the river describes the problem of stormwater pollution. During rains, a good deal of runoff enters the estuary, carrying all sorts of pollutants and trash. (I had to really alter this photograph so we could make out what the old sign says. Click the image to enlarge it.)
A cleanup volunteer with a kayak is arriving!
A cleanup volunteer with a kayak is arriving!
Plastic bags in these kayaks have been filled with garbage found in the river.
Plastic bags in these kayaks have been filled with garbage found in the river. I learned much of it was snagged in the grass.
Dozens of caring people were on the rocky river shore, looking for trash.
Dozens of caring people were on the rocky river shore, looking for trash.
San Diego is fortunate to have many thoughtful people, concerned about our environment.
San Diego is fortunate to have many thoughtful people, concerned about our environment.
Volunteering is often a family affair, teaching the next generation about generosity and responsibility.
Volunteering is often a family affair, teaching the next generation about generosity and responsibility.
This guy is carrying his kayak back to his car.
This guy was carrying his kayak back to his car.
Another guy showed me the trash he collected. He said he found a variety of garbage. Some of it is windblown. Some comes from Interstate 5 and other bridges which cross the river nearby.
Another guy showed me the trash he collected. He said he found a variety of garbage. Some flows downstream. Some of it is windblown. Some comes from Interstate 5 and other bridges which cross the river nearby.
A tent where people can sign up to volunteer and learn more about The San Diego River Park Foundation.
A tent where people can sign up to volunteer and learn more about The San Diego River Park Foundation.
From the mountains to the ocean, we care for the San Diego River!
From the mountains to the ocean, we care for the San Diego River!
Sadly, the river isn't healthy. A grade is assigned each year based upon trash, water quality and the extent of invasive plants.
Sadly, the river isn’t healthy. A grade is assigned each year based upon trash, water quality and the extent of invasive plants.
Sign shows volunteering possibilities. (Click these sign images to read--they will enlarge.)
Sign shows volunteering possibilities. (Click these sign images to read–they will enlarge.)
Picking up garbage and readying kayaks underneath the West Mission Bay Bridge.
Picking up garbage and readying kayaks underneath the West Mission Bay Bridge.
Collected trash was placed in a nearby dumpster.
Collected trash was placed in a nearby dumpster.
Smiles in the San Diego sunlight. A perfect day to make our world cleaner, healthier and more beautiful.
Smiles in the San Diego sunlight. A perfect day to make our world cleaner, healthier and more beautiful.
Kayakers launch into the San Diego River during a special event to clean the estuary.
Kayakers launch into the San Diego River during a special event to clean the estuary.

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!

Are you a blogger? Do you want to make the world a better place? You might want to join Bloggers Lifting Others Generously.

A waterfall inspires a story about grieving.

One of several small waterfalls at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park.
One of several small waterfalls at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park.

Today I went to the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. I’m a new member.

After walking along the beautiful stream in the garden’s canyon, and crossing a few bridges, I sat down at a table overlooking the moat and magnificent waterfall near the Inamori Pavilion. And I pulled out my notebook.

A story came to me at once. From where, I don’t know. Perhaps from the falling water. Perhaps from the water’s voice. I really don’t know.

The story is about grieving, the passage of time and release. It’s just a tiny, tiny little story, but I think it might strike deeply. You can read it very quickly on one of my other blogs, Short Stories by Richard, by simply clicking here. If you like it, there are ten other very short stories that you might also enjoy. Just click around.

I’ll be sitting at that table often this year. So I’m positive coming stories will also be filled with beauty, hope and joy. The garden inspires those things, most of all.

Oh–I recently provided a quick photo tour of the Japanese Friendship Garden on my blog Beautiful Balboa Park. You can check out those posts here and here.