Tuesday, December 1, 2015

San Jacinto

vermillion flycatcher

Yesterday was one of those amazing days. I needed a timeout for myself and I headed up early to the San Jacinto Wildlife Area to catch some birds on the wing and hike and breathe and be alone on the more than nine thousand acres of restored wetlands.

I saw more raptors yesterday than I have ever seen in my entire life. I took well over 1400 pictures and will be sifting and processing for a while. Still struggling with the new Sigma 150-600mm contemporary telephoto lens, missed a lot of shots due to a balky autofocus. But got plenty.

One of the first birds I saw, from afar, was this juvenile bald eagle that I had heard had been hanging around, perched high in the rocks, stage left. Nice...

laughing mallard making silly faces
I saw all manner of birds, red tailed and red shouldered hawks, more harriers than I have ever seen in my life, what I think was a golden eagle, merlins, kestrels, all manner of ducks, a single blue heron, an egret, many birds that I can not name. it was an epic day.

male bufflehead

hooded merganser and black necked stilt 

A rookie birder, I learn something new every time I go out into the field.

flycatcher in flight

I loved watching the graceful harriers gently glide over the marshes and earth.


A bad day out with my avian friends beats the hell out of sitting at my desk and nothing is better than a good day out.

red tailed hawk

I hope I'm not boring you with all of these birds. Have so many shots. I walked all over the place, keeping in mind the signs alerting me to the presence of mountain lions, cautioning me to fight the puma if need be. Okay, yeah, that is going to work.

lbb (little brown bird)

no idea

My rookie assumption is that this is a female kingfisher but I am probably wrong.

If I ever win the lottery and you want to know where to find me...


I believe that this guy is a ferruginous hawk. I saw one near the blind close to this tree last time I was up there.

This is one of a pair of kestrels that I unfortunately scared off the limb. Didn't quite nail it, will have to go back.

As the day got longer I saw a pair of photographers with these enormous lenses zeroing in on this merlin sitting on a post and decided to tag along, hopefully out of their space. I hope they got their shot.

The bird bolted and I had a chance to get a little closer but not much.

It was nearly time to go. I decided to take one more spin through the preserve. I saw a huge bird in a tree and scared it away before I could get a good read.

Not sure about the tail feathers. Could this be the golden, perhaps immature or an awfully large hawk?

All things must come to an end and it was time to go. Snapped a few more pics of kestrels, they are so damn cute and I was on my way.

As I left the gravel road, this beautiful guy posed on the sign and bid me adieu!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Casey Jones

Our bad.

Seligman closeup, Casey Jones you better watch your speed...
I am going to give myself exactly 26 minutes to write and then I am going to take pictures of birds. Was interesting to see how quickly the pro-lifers disassociated themselves from the Colorado shooter. Wasn't one of us, never heard of him... The reality is that they have been pouring gasoline on the fire for years and ratcheted things up after the heavily edited Planned Parenthood videos were released. A good friend who is pretty thoughtful and considerate said he didn't really shed any tears when an abortion doctor gets capped and I immediately thought about the similarity to recent statements from the French muslims that in reality they shed few tears when the French jews and Charlie Hebdo cartoonists were killed. Let the rhetoric fly and know that some whack job will run with it and you sort of keep your hands clean. I love this pope but he has made a few statements in the past year bemoaning a lowered birth rate, while population puts such a big stress on earth's biology. For a good primer on population and climate change you might want to read this study which will depress the most ardent optimist, since we might already be too late. Or this from the Center for Biological Diversity. We're fucked, kids. Nasa has a nice site illustrating the climate change issue and problems.

"C02 does not cause catastrophic disasters-actually it would be beneficial to our environment and our economy." James Inhofe
Carbon dioxide is at its highest level on Terra in 650,000 years. Global temps, nine out of the top ten warmest years on record since the year 2000. Arctic summer sea ice at the lowest measurement on record. Greenland land ice loss doubled between 1996 and 2005. Sea level has risen 7" in the last 100 years.
“I take my religion seriously.This is what a lot of alarmists forget: God is still up there, and He promised to maintain the seasons and that cold and heat would never cease as long as the earth remains.” James Inhofe
What an embarrassment to have idiots like James Inhofe representing our country overseas and trying to deny the import of this issue. And unfortunately population reduction probably can't put a dent into reducing the problem at this point.
Only the truly ugly and unrealistic scenarios — a rapidly-enforced global one-child policy or the mass die-off of several billion people — altered population trajectories by 2100 enough to have a real impact on carbon emissions and resource use. In short, the morally defensible option for slowing down fertility (plus some of the indefensible ones) just didn’t do much good, still leaving the human population around 10 billion by 2100.
“No matter what levers you pull, we have such a huge demographic momentum, there’s no way we can rein in the human population fast enough to address sustainability issues in the next century,” Corey Bradshaw, the director of ecological modeling at the Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide in Australia
It's not like we didn't know, its just that there was too much money to be made to put the brakes on...

“I consider it to be not a big problem at all, I think it’s weather changes.” Donald Trump
It’s not that I deny science. I’m not going to support policies that would destroy our economy and do nothing to improve our environment.” Marco Rubio
I know there are a lot of people who say ‘overwhelming science’ . . . There is no overwhelming science that the things that are going on are man-caused and not naturally caused.” Ben Carson
Climate change is not science. It’s religion." Ted Cruz

The science is settled. 97% of peer reviewed scientific studies hold that global warming is man made. But certain dinosaurs on the beltway won't listen. Sorry earth. Our bad.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Shooting Straight

John's dogs

Bad liver and a broken heart

Step right up

Lots of stupid out there today,  of course. I am sort of going to breeze through the stupid and outrage pretty quickly this morning as I've things to do. Some of these stupidoids even took place prior to the current 24 hour cycle, if you can believe it? Hopelessly  passé.

The schmucky owner of Turing Pharmaceuticals, Martin Shkreli,  is welshing on his promise to lower the price of the anti parasite drug Daraprim.

This guy gives capitalist pigs a bad name. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered, Martin my boy.

A compounding pharma competitor, Imprimus, is about to cut the young price gouging hedge funder Martin's throat in the market place. Hear, hear.

I love how the GOP is waffling and that some members won't get behind a very sensible bill to block sales of weapons to terrorists on Homeland Security watch lists. Very patriotic.

The National Rifle Association signaled this week it will oppose Feinstein's bill, as it did those before it. They'd back giving more guns to the nazis.
NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker pointed to past instances where innocent people were added to the watch list either in error or as the result of tenuous ties to others involved in suspicious activities. She stressed that the NRA doesn't oppose denying terrorists firearms, but said the group wants to ensure that Americans who are wrongly on the list are afforded their constitutional right to due process.
"It is appalling that anti-gun politicians are exploiting the Paris terrorist attacks to push their gun-control agenda and distract from President Obama's failed foreign policy," Baker said.
Oh, Canada.

The Canadians get a chip on their shoulder the size of Manitoba getting outstupided by the United States all the time and decided to fight back this week.

Yoga is being banned at the College of Ottawa on the grounds that it is cultural appropriation when it is practiced by non indians. Cultural appropriation is also known as cultural oppression and frowned on by many politically correct liberals today.

Turkey and Russia deserve each other, both recently engaged in the same sort of double game, both ostensibly fighting Isis but really settling tribals scores against Kurds and Turkmen. Don't think Turkey can win this fight but kind of fun to watch from the sidelines.

Excellent article on the Russia Turkey relationship from Rhagida Dergham, Al Hayat.


The Planned Parenthood shooting makes the eighth or ninth since 1993, I believe. Call me a sap, but even before the guy gets headshrunk regarding his motivations, I am going with anti abortion. I'll go out on a limb. Pro life indeed.

Marco Rubio says that Roe V. Wade is the law but not the settled law and that God's law trumps man's law anyway. This is the kind of thinking that makes many of us very afraid.

Not to be outdone pandering to the evangelicals, favorite son Ted Cruz is accepting the endorsement of a guy who advocates killing abortion doctors, Troy Newman.

More here.
Newman argued in his 2003 book, “Their Blood Cries Out,” that the biblical duty of government “rightly involves executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes in order to expunge bloodguilt from the land and people.” (He later explained that while “there’s several prescriptions in the Old Testament that God calls out that the person who commits these crimes should be executed,” he was going for a message of “mercy” in that “we need to repent first for our personal involvement and corporate involvement of abortion and work to restore those that have been involved in it and work to end this terrible tragedy that’s in our nation.”)
Newman also wrote in his book that women who have abortions should be considered “a murderer” just like “any other mother, killing any other family member.” Along with Operation Rescue’s Cheryl Sullenger, who was once convicted of conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic, Newman later claimed that a man convicted of murdering an abortion provider should have been allowed to argue that the homicide was justified.
Newman has claimed that the 9/11 terrorist attacks and AIDS were both warnings from God about legal abortion in America and attributed a drought in California to the state’s liberal abortion laws, insisting that “weather patterns” and economic instability are connected to legal abortion.

Indian Summer


People will tell you that there are no seasons in Southern California. They have obviously never visited the beautiful Santa Margarita River in the autumn. The sycamores are nearly as vibrant as aspens right now. The morning fog lies low in its valleys and the raptors have begun showing their faces again.

I have lived on this river's doorstep since 1989. This has been my first view of the day for a big chunk of my life.

We river dwellers count ourselves very lucky. No signal, no cable, no traffic, no compression. Long way to go to hide, but worth it.

Not exactly a religious man, but I count my blessings regularly.

I caught a double rainbow on the way home yesterday as did many Fallbrookians. I hear that the pictures are plastered all over Facebook. This one is seen through a dirty, rain splattered windshield but you get the idea. I wonder if any animals take pleasure in rainbows, if they are particular pleasing to dogs and dolphins, lemurs or lynx? Humans can't agree on much but I think we have all loved rainbows since time immemorial.

A rainbow never pissed anyone off.