Searching for bats in Balboa Park!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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San Diego Audubon Society’s fun Bird Festival!

People enjoying the annual Bird Festival at Marina Village have walked to the San Diego River Estuary where many aquatic birds congregate.
People enjoying the annual Bird Festival at Marina Village have walked to the San Diego River Estuary where many aquatic birds congregate.

Today during my walk I encountered of group of enthusiastic birders at the San Diego River Estuary. These folks were all participating in the San Diego Audubon Society’s annual Bird Festival, which takes place this weekend at the nearby Marina Village Conference Center.

Later during my walk I visited the Bird Festival’s registration room, where anyone can purchase dozens of different birdwatching and reference books, plus other gifts. A friendly lady informed me that the San Diego Audubon Society has about three thousand members! During the Bird Festival and throughout the year, members can go on all sorts of field trips around San Diego County, and take every sort of bird-related class imaginable.

Members and volunteers are also involved in working to restore critical bird habitat in Mission Bay! I blogged about that a couple years ago here!

Do you make your home in San Diego? Do you love birds? Then you probably should join the Audubon Society! Here the local chapter’s website, where you can also learn more about the very cool Bird Festival, which continues through tomorrow!

The San Diego Audubon Society offers many birdwatching opportunities. The organization also has a conservation program.
The San Diego Audubon Society offers many birdwatching opportunities. The organization also has a vital conservation program.
If I joined the Audubon Society, maybe I'd learn what sort of behavior these birds are displaying!
If I joined the Audubon Society, maybe I’d learn what sort of behavior these birds are displaying!
Poster at the Bird Festival shows how the San Diego Audubon Society is helping to restore the nesting habitat of the endangered California Least Tern in Mission Bay.
Poster at the Bird Festival shows how the San Diego Audubon Society is helping to restore the nesting habitat of the endangered California Least Tern in Mission Bay.
I believe this little guy on the bank of the San Diego River is a snowy egret.
I believe this little guy on the bank of the San Diego River is a snowy egret.
Members of the San Diego Audubon Society enjoy a perfect sunny day and identify lots of birds!
Members of the San Diego Audubon Society enjoy a perfect sunny day and identify lots of birds!

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!

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.

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!

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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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!

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 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!