Old farming street art in Nestor.

During my recent adventure in Nestor I was surprised to find an abundance of street art. As I walked west along Tocayo Avenue and north up Hollister Street to Leon Avenue, I kept spotting electrical boxes painted with farm imagery.

Nestor is a quiet residential community in San Diego’s South Bay. Before urban development covered the landscape with asphalt streets lined with houses, Nestor was mostly farmland. I believe this street art is a tribute to those olden days.

As I walked along, it seemed that goats, cows and horses, and wildlife in wide open spaces, had emerged from the brush by the sidewalk.

The only artist signature I could find appears to indicate David Williams, 2009. It was painted on the wall mural at the corner of Hollister and Leon that features a wide view of an old farm.

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A hike near the Buena Vista Audubon Nature Center.

A beautiful, very easy nature hike can be enjoyed at the south end of Oceanside near the Buena Vista Audubon Nature Center. The quarter mile hike follows a quiet looping trail with views of the Buena Vista Lagoon Ecological Reserve.

Yesterday I walked the trail and took these photographs.

The Buena Vista Audubon Society runs the Nature Center, which is located at 2202 South Coast Highway. The trail begins and ends a few steps from the building’s front entrance, directly across the driveway.

The Buena Vista Audubon Society engages the community and local students by offering nature education and various birding opportunities. They are also active in working to protect and restore wetlands and other environmentally sensitive land. You can learn more about their mission at this web page.

The Nature Center was closed when I happened by, but the trail was wide open and inviting on a sunny July day.

Here and there through dense bulrushes, or at viewing platforms, one can see the placid lagoon, and birds floating in the water or taking flight. Not only does local wildlife depend on this important natural habitat, but Buena Vista Lagoon is used by thousands of migrating birds that follow the Pacific Flyway.

One section of the hike was on a wood plank boardwalk over shallow water, then the trail turned toward dry land where I saw majestic trees, including sycamores, cottonwoods, and even a few Torrey pines.

During my walk I happened to meet Buena Vista Audubon Society’s Executive Director Natalie Shapiro. Before I began my hike, I observed her picking up trash along the Coast Highway, where it crosses the lagoon. Then I saw her again on the trail! She asked if I’d like to volunteer! Volunteers are always greatly appreciated!

She was super friendly and explained to me the difference between bulrushes and cattails, which I tend to confuse. At the margins of the lagoon, the plant community includes both of these, not to mention pickleweed and saltgrass.

Since the 1940s, Buena Vista Lagoon has been sealed off from natural tidal fluctations, and it has consequently become a stagnant fresh-water system. But there are now plans to open the lagoon to the ocean, creating a more healthy wetland.

If you’d like to enjoy this very easy, educational nature hike, head to Oceanside. And plan to visit when the Buena Vista Audubon Nature Center is open! I need to do that, too!

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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Nature and art at Chollas Creekside Park.

Nature’s beauty and fine public art can be enjoyed at Chollas Creekside Park, located in southeast San Diego’s Chollas View neighborhood. The curved linear park, which preserves important natural habitat in an urban setting, can be found near the northwest corner of Market Street and Euclid Avenue.

A couple weekends ago I visited this beautiful community park for the first time and, by using the pedestrian bridge over Chollas Creek, walked the pathways along both sides of the dry creek bed.

I saw spring flowers. I saw new green leaves. I saw many birds.

I also paused to admire the Chollas Realm Gateways at either end of the park. The public artwork was created by local artist Roman de Salvo and installed in the summer of 2019.

At the center of Chollas Creekside Park, I circled Visualize Biodiversity. The 10-foot Corten sculpture is shaped like a barrel cactus. Patterns of butterflies and insects around its circumference light up at night. Created by artist Deedee Morrison, it was also installed in 2019.

You’ll see in my photos that I also climbed up to a lookout point above Chollas Creek, where there’s a great view of the entire park. With a little imagination one can visualize the surrounding area as it was before the city sprang up and streets and buildings covered the landscape.

Chollas Creek and Chollas View take their name from the Cholla cactus. Cholla were numerous here, once upon a time.

Chollas Realm Gateway, by artist Roman de Salvo, 2019.
Birds of Chollas Creek include California gnatcatcher, red-tailed hawk, Bell’s vireo, and cactus wren.
Visualize Biodiversity, by artist Deedee Morrison, 2019.
Plants of Chollas Creek include California buckwheat, California sunflower, lemonadeberry, and California sycamore.
Mammals of Chollas Creek include coyote, gray fox, desert cottontail, and big brown bat.
Benefits of creek restoration include cleaner water, reduced flooding and preservation of wildlife habitat along a riparian corridor.

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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How to create a wildlife-friendly backyard!

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

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

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

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

River ducks arrive, greet, depart!

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

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

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Watermarks art at Mission Trails Regional Park.

Extraordinary public art can be found at one entrance to Mission Trails Regional Park in San Diego. Titled Watermarks, the long, curving mosaic wall stands adjacent to the water pump station at Mission Gorge Road and Deerfield Street. Hikers proceeding through a gate in the beautiful wall find themselves on the Deerfield Crossing Trail.

Watermarks was created in 2000 by Lynn Susholtz and Aida Mancillas of artist collaborative Stone Paper Scissors. According to this page of the San Diego Civic Art Collection website: “Applied to the wall is a highly detailed mosaic of tile, indigenous rock and metal pieces etched sporadically with petroglyphs, text and animal tracks…(the wall) serves to illustrate the ecological, historical and cultural importance of the park and the San Diego River. Once used by the Kumeyaay Indian tribe and the Spanish missionaries, the San Diego River connects our histories, cultures and lives.”

I took these photographs on a gray day between winter showers.

I love how the blue tile mosaic river flows and meanders along the earthy wall. Native plants like mesquite, wild onion, yucca and sage appear like fossils on river stones, each labeled with both their English and Kumeyaay names. On the ground and bench, you can see how nature’s fallen leaves, and rain water collected in the sculpted animal tracks, imbue this amazing artwork with even more life.

Six miles downstream, in 1769, the Spanish established the Misión San Diego de Alcalá, creating the demand for a mission waterworks system which was continually modified from 1775 through the 1830’s. The Old Mission Dam, located at the top of the gorge, was constructed of local stone, clay deposits from the river, and a cement mortar mixture over a solid foundation of bedrock. The dam provided a reliable water source for crops and livestock brought in by the Spanish. The dam and subsequent aqueduct connection were fully operational for less than twenty years.

(If you’d like to see photos of a hike to the Old Mission Dam, 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!

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Nesting cormorants above La Jolla Cove!

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

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

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

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

A mural to Spread Love in Valencia Park!

Check out this very colorful mural!

It’s painted on a wall near the corner of Harbison Avenue and Division Street in Valencia Park, a neighborhood in southeast San Diego.

A painted sign amid scenes of natural beauty urges the viewer to Spread Love! I see all sorts of wildlife depicted. I believe I recognize deer, a snake, a swan, a raccoon, a bear, an owl, a rabbit and even a monkey!

This happy mural was painted by a duo of artists who go by the name of Arte Atolondrada. Shirish Villaseñor and Isabel Garcia have previously volunteered painting with the Southeast Art Team. I’ve documented some of their work already–here and here and here!

If you like their style and need to have a mural painted, check out the Arte Atolondrada website here!

UPDATE!

I received a photo of the artists in front of a Welcome to/Bienvenidos a Valencia Park sign they painted off Logan Avenue!

And I learned that monkey is actually a Bigfoot sighting!

Photo courtesy Arte Atolondrada.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

The many birds of Famosa Slough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Amazing look at a gray whale off San Diego!

Today I went on an amazing winter whale watching adventure!

We were able to watch a gray whale as it migrated south toward Mexico along the coast of San Diego!

I and other passengers aboard the Adventure Hornblower tour ship left San Diego Bay as the sun broke through morning clouds, and we set about searching for whales and other marine wildlife off Point Loma.

Not only did we get a great view of a gray whale repeatedly surfacing, spouting, then fluking before its longer dives, but we spotted a pod of feeding dolphins out on the beautiful Pacific Ocean, too!

I must say the crew of the Adventure Hornblower was super nice and provided a really memorable experience!

Here come my photographs…

As I waited on the Embarcadero for our departure, I was able to rest on a bench and regard our whale watching ship, the Adventure Hornblower.
Looking back at the city as we head across San Diego Bay toward the ocean.
As we cruised down the channel, we got a good look at beautiful Point Loma.
I see two iconic landmarks in San Diego! The Old Point Loma Lighthouse, and the slender statue of Cabrillo to the right of those Torrey Pine trees.
The end of the Point Loma peninsula. We’re almost out on the wide Pacific Ocean!
We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect early January day. It was a good idea to wear layers and a jacket, however!
Here and there you’d see other boats out on the blue ocean. Those hazy mountains way in the distance are in Mexico.
This big fantastic sailboat had reported seeing a whale. The captains of competing tours cooperate out on the water, sharing their sightings, for the benefit of all.
We’re slowly, carefully nearing a solitary gray whale as it journeys through the ocean.
A spout! The passengers all rushed forward!
Our first look at a fluke!
This gray whale has lots of barnacles! Hence the gray appearance.
We keep following at a safe distance, not wanting to disturb a graceful giant of the deep.
Wow! A great zoom photo of a spout!
The gray whale has spouted, leaving a watery mist above. The enormous mammal begins to dive under again.
Another fluke, which means the gray whale will be submerged for perhaps five minutes.
As we head back in to San Diego after a couple of amazing hours on the ocean, we pass many sailboats heading out. Beyond the one in this photo is Point Loma’s modern lighthouse, down near the water.
The hazy downtown skyline is up ahead in the distance, on the other side of Coronado.
After entering San Diego Bay, we slowly swung by the live bait barge to check out lots of sea lions.
What a life. Catch a few fish, take a lazy nap in the San Diego sunshine.
Getting closer to home.
Back at the Embarcadero. That’s the Coronado Ferry about to dock in front of us.

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!