Boats, art and wildlife at Chula Vista Harbor.

Looking out at the many boats in Chula Vista Harbor.
Looking out at many boats in Chula Vista Harbor.

In the morning I took the trolley down to Chula Vista and walked to the harbor. I’ve blogged on several occasions about Bayside Park and the adjacent Chula Vista Marina, but I had never explored Chula Vista Bayfront Park on the south side of the harbor, near the boat ramp.

I found a peaceful, grassy place with inviting paths, wide views of the South Bay, and a couple fascinating works of public art. And some wildlife, too!

Come with me as we walk from the tall ship Bill of Rights around the south end of the California Yacht Marina and finally to Chula Vista Bayfront Park.

The schooner Bill of Rights, based in Chula Vista, can be chartered for fun adventures. It often participates in San Diego's annual Festival of Sail.
The schooner Bill of Rights, based in Chula Vista, can be chartered for fun adventures. It often participates in San Diego’s annual Festival of Sail.
Relaxing by the picturesque marina on a quiet, peaceful morning.
Relaxing by the picturesque marina on a quiet, peaceful morning.
Flags fly near the California Yacht Marina, located at the south end of Chula Vista's pleasant harbor.
Flags fly near the California Yacht Marina, located at the south end of Chula Vista’s pleasant harbor.
The California Yacht Marina building appears inviting.
The California Yacht Marina building appears inviting.
Circling around the marina toward the boat ramp and grassy park, where you can see some trees.
Circling around the marina toward the boat ramp and adjacent grassy park, where you can see some trees.
A quiet morning walk in San Diego's South Bay.
A quiet morning walk in San Diego’s South Bay.
A person sitting on a bench in Chula Vista Bayfront Park enjoys some shade. Nearby boats float gently on the water.
A person sitting on a bench in Chula Vista Bayfront Park enjoys some shade. Nearby boats float gently on the water.
A boater heads into the dock, toward the tall ship Bill of Rights.
A boater heads into the marina, toward the tall ship Bill of Rights.
The fishing pier of nearby Bayside Park lies to the north across Chula Vista Harbor's entrance. I see the Coronado Bay Bridge and downtown San Diego in the distance!
The fishing pier of nearby Bayside Park lies to the north across Chula Vista Harbor’s entrance. I see the Coronado Bay Bridge and downtown San Diego in the distance!
These three abstract sculptures near the walking path are titled Konoids, by Kenneth Capps, 1984.
These three abstract sculptures on the grass near the walking path are titled Konoids, by Kenneth Capps, 1984.
An osprey in its nest out on San Diego Bay.
An osprey in its nest out on San Diego Bay.
A sign in Chula Vista Bayfront Park describes the osprey, a majestic raptor.
Sign in Chula Vista Bayfront Park describes the osprey, a large raptor.
Ospreys like to dive for fish. They are year-round residents of San Diego Bay.
Ospreys like to dive for fish. They are year-round residents of San Diego Bay.
An unusual sculpture. Powering the Arts, by artist Micheal Leaf, 2015. It stands next to the blue water in Chula Vista Bayfront Park.
An unusual sculpture. Powering the Arts, by artist Micheal Leaf, 2015. It stands next to the blue water at Chula Vista Bayfront Park.
Sign describes how Powering the Arts was once a cylinder atop the now demolished South Bay Power Plant.
Sign describes how Powering the Arts was once a cylinder atop the now demolished South Bay Power Plant.
A cool, unexpected sight in San Diego's sunny South Bay!
A cool, unexpected sight in San Diego’s sunny South Bay!

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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!

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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.

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An educational visit to the Living Coast Discovery Center!

Bat ray rises against glass of an outdoor tank at the Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista.
Bat ray rises against glass of an outdoor tank at the Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista.

Before my hike through Sweetwater Marsh, I enjoyed a visit to the Living Coast Discovery Center, which is located inside the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Exhibits inside the center and clusters of wildlife tanks and enclosures outside allow visitors to see and learn about the animals that make this refuge their home. The place is just right for families, with kid-size educational displays, short, easy paths, and even some picnic tables. If I were a young kid, having a birthday party here would be really cool!

After checking out the exhibits at the Living Coast Discovery Center, I ventured over to an adjacent building that is the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex headquarters. Some great displays outside provide more information about the unique and beautiful wetland that stretches in all directions. Not far from this building, one can easily find a hiking trail that leads across the marsh to San Diego Bay.

The Living Coast Discovery Center, located in the Sweetwater Marsh Unit of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, is where to get Back to Nature.
The Living Coast Discovery Center, located in the Sweetwater Marsh Unit of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, is where to get Back to Nature.
A short bus ride takes one from the parking lot near Interstate 5 through the protected Sweetwater Marsh to the kid-friendly education center.
A short bus ride takes one from the parking lot near Interstate 5 through the protected Sweetwater Marsh to the kid-friendly education center.
People near the green sea turtle exhibit at the front of the Living Coast Discovery Center.
People near the green sea turtle exhibit at the front of the Living Coast Discovery Center.
Many species of reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and fish are on display inside the small center. There's even a mouse house popular with kids.
Many species of reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and fish are on display inside the small center. There’s even a mouse house popular with kids.
Outside, visitors can explore exhibits featuring sharks, rays, birds and tortoises. One can also look across the surrounding Sweetwater Marsh.
Outside, visitors can explore exhibits featuring sharks, rays, birds and tortoises. One can also look across the surrounding Sweetwater Marsh.
Actions on land affect San Diego Bay. Pollution runoff flows via creeks, rivers and storm drains into the marsh then out to the ocean.
Actions on land affect San Diego Bay. Pollution runoff flows via creeks, rivers and storm drains into the marsh then out to the ocean.
A leopard shark. They are plentiful in the waters off San Diego.
A leopard shark. They are plentiful in the waters off San Diego.
This 3-million-year-old fossilized tusked walrus skull was found in the area. 470 different species have been found as fossils here, including sperm whales and now extinct flightless auk!
This 3-million-year-old fossilized tusked walrus skull was found in the area. 470 different species have been found as fossils here, including sperm whales and now extinct flightless auks!
Enclosures in the aviary area contain clapper rails, shorebirds and ducks.
Enclosures in the aviary area contain clapper rails, shorebirds and ducks.
A blue-billed ruddy duck swims in a pool of water at the Living Coast Discovery Center.
A blue-billed ruddy duck swims in a pool of water at the Living Coast Discovery Center.
In other parts of the aviary area one can see vultures, hawks, eagles and owls.
In other parts of the aviary area one can see vultures, hawks, eagles and owls.
A red-tailed hawk.
A red-tailed hawk.
Beautiful artwork on one building's side shows a beach and birds in flight. Swallows have built nests above it near the roof.
Beautiful artwork on one building’s side shows a beach and birds in flight. Swallows have built nests above it near the roof.
Bronze sculpture of a coyote. Many other works of wildlife art can be viewed around the center.
Bronze sculpture of a coyote. Many other works of wildlife art can be viewed around the center.
Sign near an enclosure describes the Sonoran desert tortoise.
Sign near an enclosure describes the Sonoran desert tortoise.
A tortoise take a slow stroll outside the Living Coast Discovery Center.
A tortoise take a slow stroll outside the Living Coast Discovery Center.
This amazing art showing marshland birds is just outside the entrance to the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex headquarters.
This amazing art depicting marshland birds is just outside the entrance to the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex headquarters.
Large signs explain the role of a wildlife refuge.
Large signs explain the role of a wildlife refuge.
National Wildlife Refuges are safe havens for species. The first one, at Pelican Island in Florida, was created in 1903 by Theodore Roosevelt.
National Wildlife Refuges are safe havens for species. The first one, at Pelican Island in Florida, was created in 1903 by Theodore Roosevelt.
Map of the extensive San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Map of the extensive San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
The wildlife refuge contains great biodiversity. The animals and plants are all parts of a complex and sensitive ecosystem.
The wildlife refuge contains great biodiversity. The animals and plants are all parts of a complex and sensitive ecosystem.
Different forms of life can be found in subtidal channels, mudflats, the low march and high marsh. The changing tide allows birds to feed and varied species to thrive.
Different forms of life can be found in subtidal channels, mudflats, the low marsh and high marsh. The changing tide allows birds to feed and variously adapted species to thrive.
Wildlife can find it hard to thrive in urban areas. The conserved habitat of this refuge is a critical safe harbor for many native species.
Wildlife can find it hard to thrive in urban areas. The conserved habitat of this refuge is a critical safe harbor for many native species.
This place is special. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helps to protect its wild residents.
This place is special. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helps to protect its wild residents.
A green sea turtle, one of those residents of San Diego Bay!
A green sea turtle, one of those residents of San Diego Bay!

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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.

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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!

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!