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!

Bronze wildlife sculptures at Viejas outlet mall.

Many realistic bronze sculptures representing regional wildlife can be found all around the Viejas Outlet Center in Alpine, California. This unique shopping mall, filled with beautiful artwork inspired by Native American Kumeyaay life and culture, is operated by the Viejas Group of Capitan Grande Band of Mission Indians of the Viejas Reservation.

The wildlife sculptures are found throughout the mall, among trees, on pedestrian walkways, even lurking atop artificial rocks and waterfalls. Families turning corners might encounter a bear, mule deer, mountain lions, a rattlesnake, coyote, river otter, Canada geese, and even desert bighorn sheep. Adult animals are often accompanied by their young. The bronze sculptures depict the animals interacting with each other naturally in their small realistic settings.

The wildlife sculptures were created by award-winning El Cajon artist Robert G. Berry, who began as a taxidermist before turning animal sculptor. His work can also be enjoyed at the San Diego Zoo, Cypress Gardens in Tampa, Florida, and at the Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor and Interpretive Center, which is also in San Diego. To see a few examples of his half dozen bronze sculptures at Mission Trails, click here!

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool 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.

Birds in feeding frenzy at Tuna Harbor!

The birds of Tuna Harbor gobbled up a delectable meal this morning!

Pelicans, egrets, cormorants and other feathered diners pursued a school of small fish as it moved back and forth next to the shoreline.

I stood on the boardwalk above the rocks for several minutes and photographed the feeding frenzy!

The birds were so intent on breakfast they didn’t seem to mind my presence.

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!

Walking the Otay River Trail to Hollister Pond.

There’s a beautiful pond in San Diego’s South Bay that few seem to know about. It’s called Hollister Pond. It’s located near the west end of the large Otay Valley Regional Park.

I walked down a dirt trail to this hidden pond yesterday.

I started from Hollister Street, a short distance north of where it crosses the Otay River. The Otay River Trail heads west and soon reaches a small observation platform at the north edge of the pond.

I saw nobody else on the trail on a sunny Saturday morning. Profuse litter and graffiti seem to indicate the presence of homeless people and perhaps gang activity in the area. So if you choose to walk here, be advised. But the hike is very easy and you will be rewarded by seeing hundreds of ducks, herons and other birds out on the water.

According to an information sign at the observation platform, Hollister Pond, like many other ponds along the Otay River valley, is actually a water-filled abandoned quarry, where sand and gravel was commercially mined. Wildlife one can find on or around the pond include the Snowy Egret, Mallard Duck and Baja California Tree Frog.

After taking in the sparkling scenery, I continued west on the Otay River Trail, which passes through the darkness underneath Interstate 5, then passes a sign concerning preventable urban pollution. Unfortunately, hundreds of toxic spray paint cans are tossed along the river by those vandalizing the park with graffiti.

The trail then turns south and crosses over the Otay River bed. It’s a spot that likely becomes impassable after a good rain.

As I walked I took photographs of trees and native plants in the warm sunlight.

The trail eventually reaches a small parking lot behind a Home Depot at the north end of Saturn Boulevard in Imperial Beach. The area features a kiosk, picnic table, and several people who appeared to be using drugs, whom I avoided.

If you’d like to go on a small daytime adventure in the South Bay, consider a visit to Hollister Pond! Google Maps shows the “Walking Path” that leads to it.

But please be careful and safe.

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!

Walking by the Miramar College Vernal Pools.

Today I walked through a small section of Mira Mesa. I was on a mission to check out a cool sculpture I’d read about that stands in front of a fire station.

As I walked west along Hillery Drive from the Miramar College Transit Station, I observed what at first glance appeared like a scrubby vacant lot behind a fence. When I came to the corner of Hillery Drive and Black Mountain Road, a sign on the fence informed me that I was looking at an area of special environmental importance–a unique nature preserve!

I was walking right next to the Miramar College Vernal Pools.

Here’s a little information provided by three signs that I read:

This plot of land was originally leased to the Navy in 1931 and called Linda Vista Mesa Field, or Hourglass Field because of its distinctive shape. It was part of Camp Kearny, which was located on the site of the current Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. This field was used by the Army and Navy for dive bombing practice and emergency landings.

From 1957 to 1959, the field was used as a sports car racecourse, and from the 1970’s to 2008 what remained of the old runway was used for law enforcement training and nicknamed The Grinder.

The protected field now contains many seasonal vernal pools–a very rare type of wetland. Shallow vernal pools are wet during the rainy season–particularly in spring–then quickly turn to mud and dry out. Because of this unusual environment, a number of rare and endemic species live in vernal pool areas. In addition to teeming microscopic life and small crustaceans like the fairy shrimp, there are frogs, snakes, birds and mammals. More than 200 plant species thrive in and around vernal pools, including annual wildflowers.

One sign indicates the Miramar College Vernal Pools’ interpretive trails are open Monday through Friday from 7 am to 10:30 pm. Unfortunately, I walked by on a Saturday and had to observe this natural area from behind the surrounding fence.

If you want to read the signs, click my photos and they will enlarge.

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!

Monument to a White Deer in Presidio Park.

A little known monument stands in a remote corner of San Diego’s Presidio Park. It remembers a white deer that once lived there.

From an article in the PRESIDIO PARK RANGER REPORT, QUARTERLY: SEPTEMBER 2006-NOVEMBER 2006…

WHITE DEER

This female white fallow deer roamed the hills of Mission Valley, Mission Hills, and Presidio Park. This doe escaped from the San Diego Zoo around 1965 and wandered free in Presidio Park for the next ten years.

The deer was spotted attempting to cross the I-8 freeway, and some locals reported seeing the deer get hit by a vehicle. Tragically, in the effort to catch the deer, Animal Control used a tranquilizer dart, which ultimately led to the deer’s death in December, 1975.

This treasured deer had been something of a community mascot. This incident led to an outpouring of community grief.

As a result, a citizen’s committee was formed to promote a suitable memorial for the gravesite. In 1976, a monument was placed at the top of the hill at Inspiration Point for the most cherished White deer named “Lucy”. A free standing monument of three native stones designed by San Diego Artist Charles Faust, sits on the hill top for all to remember the White Deer.

Margaret Price (1911-) a local artist involved in converting Spanish Village in Balboa Park to an artists enclave, truly worked diligently to establish the monument for the White deer. Many community members wrote to Price, hoping to have their poem or saying put onto the monument.

A bronze plaque beside the three standing stones reads: Bliss in solitude beneath this tree, formless, silent, spirit free. A Friend

About to head up the hill from the small Inspiration Point parking lot.
About to head up the hill from the small Inspiration Point parking lot.
Heading up under shady trees.
Heading up under shady trees.
Approaching a park bench, and three vertical stones near it.
Approaching a park bench, and three vertical stones near it.
Public art in Presidio Park remembers a White Dear named Lucy that escaped from the San Diego Zoo.
Public art in Presidio Park remembers a White Dear named Lucy that escaped from the San Diego Zoo.
A monument atop a green hill honors natural things.
A monument atop a green hill honors natural things.
Deer tracks approach the sculpted water hole, among the tracks of other wild animals.
Deer tracks approach the sculpted water hole, among the tracks of other wild animals.
A plaque is nearby.
A plaque is nearby.
The white deer of Mission Hills. Bliss in solitude beneath this tree, formless, silent, spirit free. A friend
The white deer of Mission Hills. Bliss in solitude beneath this tree, formless, silent, spirit free. A friend
Monument to a White Deer in San Diego's Presidio Park.
Monument to a White Deer in San Diego’s Presidio Park.

To see this simple but very beautiful monument, turn up the steep driveway off Taylor Street, just east of Presidio Park’s main entrance. The driveway leads to the Inspiration Point parking lot.

Then walk up the nearby hill.

This monument is very close to some homes in Mission Hills, so be quiet and respectful.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool 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.

Irritable crabs face off at Ocean Beach arena.

Some irritable crabs were facing off all around a watery square arena at the Ocean Beach tide pools yesterday.

Crabs small and smaller, feeling agitated, would lift their claws threateningly, scamper right up to a rival, show ’em who’s boss, then, seeming to forget everything, would bumble off in a different direction.

I can’t say there was too much actual grappling. Just a lot of showboating.

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!