Thursday, June 29, 2006

Surf's Up!

But I sure wasn't. I can now call myself a true Southern Californian!! I have been surfing and I enjoyed it. 50 degree water, diluted raw sewage, oh this is the life... But in all honesty it was far more fun than I ever expected.
Here's a few crap-tastic photos from the morning, I HATE it when I forget to reset the apperture and ISO and end up over-exposing my pics. Oh well, thank goodness for photoshop...
Scott Sanford surfing mini waves, perfect for my first lesson.
A few days ago I was feeling adventurous so I called up my neighbor, Scott, a surfer and a lifegaurd and asked him if he would take me out for a impromptu surf lesson. I can't very well show up in Australia being the Southern California chick that I am and admit to never surfing... I have been long overdue for it anyhow. I didn't manage to get on my feet the entire 45 minutes we were in the water but I did start to get the feel for paddling around and caught a few waves that I rode in on my stomach for. I also got thrashed a few times finding myself head over heels tumbling in the waves but hey, I figure that's half the fun. The water was around a chilly 50 degrees, normally 70 in the summer but today the winds had changed bringing cold water up from a deep trough off to our left. And me without a wetsuit... oh well. At least I looked pretty tough next to all those men in full suits, that or pretty stupid. ;)
coming in for the day.
From the conservation end of things, surfers do their part for sure. The Surfrider Foundation plays a huge role in conservation and clean up when it comes to our beaches. They monitor water quality, and fight to clean up and save the environment they use for their recreation. To learn more visit their website above.
So will I continue to surf? You bet! Am I going to buy a wetsuit if the water temp. stays that cold? You bet! Shivering uncontrollably and losing feeling below my thighs is a bad thing right? At least I can start a 'from the surfboard' lifelist =)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

New Beginnings

Well this seems to be a historic year in bird conservation efforts paying off. For the first time in over 100 years Whooping Cranes have successfully nested and two chicks hatched at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin. For more info on them, visit Amy Hooper's post on her blog, Wildbird on the Fly.

Osprey courtesy of Wikipedia. I haven't got a photo of them yet...
Back in beautiful Orange County another species of bird is making history. For the first time in 30 years Osprey's have made a successful nest at the gorgeous Upper Newport Bay. The Daily Pilot reported on the event, viewable here. These birds, like so many others, were horribly affected by the chemical pesticide DDT, which caused their egg shells to become brittle and thin and crack when the mother bird attempted to incubate them. Those of you who have read Rachel Carson's Silent Spring maybe already be well aware of the devastating effects of this chemical. DDT was banned in American and birds have made a slow and painful comeback. Though their numbers have been coming up, this is the first time a successful nest has been seen at the Back Bay =)
As for birding, I haven't been able to go out since owling but I have a feeling it might be hell right now anyway. Orange County is having a heat wave, 90+ degree weather and humidity, yes humidity, amazing huh?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Australia and Owling

Sooo I have been tentatively planning a trip to Sydney, Australia since I was a little girl. My parents lived there when they were first married and I have wanted to go all my life. This December I am getting the chance. I joined the Birding-Aus listserv and have been overwhelmed with the response from it. I got great advice, offers to go birding, and general encouragement. I ordered the Pizzey and Knight field guide as it was what was most often recommended. 40 bucks used, ughhh. I have never been more excited about a trip though, bee-eaters, and fairy-wrens and bowerbirds.... oh my!
Yellow-throated miner*
Last night I went owling in Silverado Canyon with Alex Thomas, my mini me, and Dave VanderPlyum and Adam Searcy. We heard Great-horns, got fantastic views of Alex's life western screech-owl. (we've heard but never seen them in the wild) And got a calling juv. long-eared owl, which we were able to see the eye shine from. Sweeeet. We had gone to a concert earlier so Alex and my hearing was shot, and we got home around 4am, ugh. Luckily today was wayyyy too hot to safely bird canyons and too crowded on the beach so I am excused from birding for the day ;)

Western Screech-Owl*

*Photos compliments of random websites via Google =)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I and the Bird # 26

It's here! IATB #26, hosted by Patrick of The Hawk Owl's Nest. This was a very nicely planned out one, aaaand I'm the very first entry =)

Monday, June 19, 2006

What, no birds?!

That's right, I do occasionally try my hand at photos that aren't birds, here's a few...

Pete playing basketball

Is this thing decorative or does it actually have purpose?

Street sign in La Jolla, CA

A storefront in La Jolla, CA

Tell me this one isn't hilariously cool!

Birds, Blogs, and a Real Title

First of all, I'd like to announce that I have a solid name for my blog now, no more revolving quotes, as fun as they are... perhaps I'll start doing a quote of the week or something. Hmmm, but without further ado, Alis Volat Propiis, a latin phrase meaning "she flies with her own wings". I liked it for a few reasons, one being that it has a subtle, or perhaps not so subtle, allusion to birding. I also love that it's latin seeing as I took 3 years of it in high school and have been considering heavily declaring classics as my major. Finally I felt it described me well. I have never been conventional, whatever that means, as a birder and belly dancer who tested out of high school early, and generally could be counted on to never do things the normal way, it's me. =)
Birding with Oscar Johnson in San Diego
Now down to business, a question was posed, why bird? and more, why blog? This got me thinking about it, I've been asked many times why it is I bird, and each time I seem to have a varying response. I suppose I bird because I love it, because it is an intellectually stimulating form of escape. It allows me to forget about school, work, life, and drama, and yet it isn't something mind numbing like television, but rather something engaging, challenging, and refreshing.
Birding provides an excuse to be outdoors (as if one was ever needed!) and it gives me ample things to learn like songs and field marks, and with those I learn plants, insects, and how they all connect. Learning about birds teaches you about nature in general and the way things interact and relate. Getting to know phainopeplas, you discover that they like mistletoe berries, and from there, that mistletoe is a parasitic plant which in So Cal can be found in sycamores... it goes on. Each new discovery leads to many more.
I admit I also like the challenge of competition. Listing and chasing - as many birders have discovered - is a great way to add a competitive edge to what could be a very casual hobby. The thrill of the chase provides a different experience entirely than say a leisurely bird walk, and I think both are fantastic, each for their own reasons.
I could go on but I think that's enough to bring me to question two, why blog? For me it's about sharing experiences. Reading other people's blogs is a way of birding vicariously. You see things in a light entirely different from the way you yourself might have interpreted that situation. It also allows one to experience birding in regions far different from their own, take the Birding Babylon blog written by the soldier in Iraq for example. Sharing my own posts allows me to re-live them, thus helping my memory, to upload the photos and share those snapshots of time, and to show people what my version of Southern California is.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


For those of you particularly interested in lepidoptera, here's a blog just for you! Also one Odonata... Today the marsh was quiet birdwise,( it might help if I dragged my bum out of bed before 11, hehe) but the butterflies were simply everywhere, enjoy!
Skipper species, my guide is in my car... I am so stoked on that curled proboscis!
What a lady! West Coast.
Mourning Cloak, for some reason their faces amuse me
Sylvan Hairstreak
Lorquin's Admiral
female Mexican Amberwing

Saturday, June 10, 2006

La Jolla Cove - 6/9/06

Pelicans and gulls and cormorants, oh my!!
I spent the day in La Jolla, California yesterday, had a lot of fun watching the pelicans and cormorants as they fed, rested, preened, and generally interacted.
Gull, anyone care to I.D. and age it?
back shot, cuuute
Brant's cormorant giving a landing pelican a hard time
Western Gull, everyone's favorite lunch thief
Pelican making use of a preen gland
I just liked the flow of action in this shot
California Brown Pelican
Heerman's gull!
Nice wingspan
awww, classic =)

Friday, June 09, 2006

Orange County birding day

Blogger was acting funny yesterday so I didn't get to post about my day birding and doing some light hiking with a friend from Santa Barbara. We birded Blue Jay campgrounds, off Ortega Highway in the Cleveland Nat'l Forest, then cut inland and north to Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary. We birded up a creek, walking along the sides and rocks along the water. It was a great day for butterflies and herps! It was overcast and muggy, mid 70s, and the birds were pretty quiet but there was an abundance of life to be seen!
California Thrasher
bee? other insect? I'm unsure...

Gopher snake - San Diego subspecies

Two-striped garter snake, he caught it in the water!

Marine Blue

Pale Swallowtails, puddling!!!

Skipper species, I keep forgetting to look it up...
Red Admiral

California Newt =)

California Tree Frog!