Jelly, jelly so fine

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Point Lobos sunrise

A homage

I was ixnayed from a guy's Google + webpage last night.

I thought that we were having a frank and friendly discussion regarding grammar and the proper usage of language.

He evidently thought I was being a word nazi. He got pissy and muted or blocked me. The guy is a pretty good still life photographer. Actually an excellent still life photographer. He posted a nice picture of apples with this sentence.

Apples. A homage.

I wrote back a brief reply.

An (?)

And got this response:

Well, that is sort of news to me. I know that we are a little backward but where I hail from, the h is silent. I decided to do a bit of research and found this article on the subject in the New York Times by Ben Zimmer, circa 2010. It appears that the world at large is pretty evenly split on the subject. I sent the article to Mr. Dunbar and got a pithy response that I felt was not even on point.

Actually the Oxford Dictionary citation he sent over didn't even mention homage, it talked about other situations where the h in a word is never silent like horrific. Maybe this guy is a limey? Maybe he thinks we New Worlders have been screwing up the queen's english ever since we threw the damn tea into the harbor back in Boston? Who knows? My only prior correspondence with the bloke was one time when he tried to give me an art history lesson which I politely declined because I have a pretty good grasp on the subject already and he was being a tad condescending if not patronizing.

I was done with the conversation basically anyway but decided to send him this paragraph from the article in case he somehow missed it.
Dropping the “h” sound from homage appears to be gathering steam in American speech, and other dictionaries will no doubt begin to reflect this move. This actually represents a return to a much older pronunciation pattern. As with many other imports from Norman French into Middle English, the initial “h” was not originally pronounced in homage.
He got pissy and then sent me into cyber exile.

I asked the boys at coffee where they stood on the subject. About seven or eight of them. To a man they, like me, hearkened back to the original french and did not pronounce the h. Maybe it's just a british thing, not that I know where this guy actually hearkens from, and not like I really care. But here in California we say it with the h silent.

This is the first time that I can recall that I have undergone a cyber banishment but probably not the last. The things I do for language. Sorry to get under your bonnet, Mike.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


Reno, Nevada

Ironhand, Brett Stokes, Daring Greatly

hung upside down

Birds of a different feather

White crowned sparrow
I was all set to write some pithy political diatribe but I just couldn't rant this morning. It's pointless.

Our country is like the Hatfield and McCoys, blue and gray has morphed into red and blue in the current iteration of the national uncivil war.

Beyond specific issues and positions, it is simply clan hatred at this point.

Never the twain shall meet.

Orange crowned warbler

It is stupid to focus on POTUS when the reality is that there is such a major disconnect between the 38% of the populous who make up his fervent base and the other camp.

Some of whom are good friends. We just see things in a different way.

So I will stick with the birds, my backyard buddies. All three of these guys were found in the boughs of my redwood tree this Sunday.

Special thanks to ace birder Ken Weaver for helping me with the identifications.

Lincoln's sparrow

Monday, January 29, 2018

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Caroline No

White tailed kite

I had to drive to the Ontario Airport this morning and thought that I would stop by the San Jacinto Wildlife Area for a quick sneak attack on my way back. It was not a smart move, Wednesdays and Saturday are the days that hunters are blasting birds and trying to spray your car with gravel while they drive by at top speed in their big alpha male pickup trucks.

I had been there before on a Saturday and photographed simultaneously with the hunters but I had either failed to see the closed to public sign or it is a new sign. In any case it was close to a wasted trip. On the way out I did drive up the road to the Walker Ponds, perilously close to being out of gas.

Saw the familiar bald eagle eating something on a distant pole.

And then got a snap of the beautiful white tailed kite, which made the whole excursion worthwhile. So pretty.

Now I have always called this bird, Elanus leucurus, the black shouldered kite. That is the name of a very similar kite in the old world.

Apparently at some point the American Ornithologists' Union felt it had enough differences with Elanus caeruleus to warrant its own name and full species status. Gorgeous raptor.

Thursday, January 25, 2018


I was getting rooted to my chair and needed a walk. Isn't it amazing how lost you can get in front of a monitor?

I decided to go down to the Los Jilgueros Preserve in Fallbrook and take a look around. Stretch my legs. It's on the other end of town, a nice plot of still unspoiled open space.

Might as well bring a camera. I was on one of the original planting crews down there, many, many moons ago, but don't visit near as often as I should and it is very picturesque in its own way. A buzzard and red tailed soared together overhead in a lazy afternoon dance against a cumulus backdrop.

The Fallbrook Land Conservancy is and always has been one of the best organizations around, with definitely the best cross section of townspeople I have come across. I don't donate to that many groups but they are on the head of my list. Consider joining or throwing them a few bucks and help preserve open space.

Didn't get too far when I encountered a tree full of one of my very favorite avian friends, the cedar waxwings.

Certain sections of town get them, they like to eat berries and for one reason or another they skip my place.

Now I know where to go to see them. Gorgeous birds.

Also ran across this common yellowthroat. It is such a dastardly common name for an uncommonly pretty bird. Oh well.

Met a woman there who does birding tours in east county. She had just seen a hermit thrush near where I saw the yellowthroat.

Bunch of ducks, mostly mallards, but also this bird which I guess is a female lesser scaup.

It was a grey day, not really conducive to picture taking. I did what I could and frankly didn't care all that much. Beautiful walk.

I saw a mountain bluebird in the dark shadows, too far away for a decent capture. Different coloration than the ones up at San Jacinto, tawnier breasts.

Was turning out to be a pretty good forty five minute walk. Isn't it amazing that we can travel so far and wide in search of when there are so many secrets to be discovered in our own backyards?

And I had another epiphany that I will share, only one today, going to ruminate with the other one for a while, isn't it amazing how smart we sometimes think we are only to find out in the final analysis that we were flying blind the whole way and were really the last ones to figure it out?

I looked up and saw the moon and clicked a shot or two. It amazes me how sharp this Sigma 150-600mm C lens is. Click on it and look at it magnified, in broad daylight, mind you. Incredible value for the money. I think the teleconverter question has been answered in the negative. Better off shooting without them. Look at the crater definition. My existing equipment will do just fine. But I still think the readership should buy me a Nikon D850 for old times sake.

That's all I got.


The hissing of summer lawns

I told you a short while back about seeing Robin Adler and her excellent band Mutts of the Planet down at the new Dizzy's. They just released the video edit of the superb concert I attended which I encourage you to give a listen to. The whole show is now on YouTube. The band played Joni Mitchell's seminal 1975 album Hissing of Summer Lawns in its entirety.

Mutts of the Planet are Robin, husband Dave Blackburn on rhythm guitar and occasional percussion, Barnaby Finch on keyboards, Jamie Kime on lead guitar, Duncan Moore on drums and Jim Reeves on bass. This is a band of ace musicians with incredible chops and stellar résumés.

If you get a chance and haven't seen them and enjoy the music of Joni Mitchell, do so. For more information on the Mutts, here is the link to Robin's website.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Bird day

I received my new, used nikkor 17e II teleconverter the other day and wanted to check it out on the 400mm 2.8. Supposedly give me 70% more reach with little optical loss.

I convinced Ken to come up to San Jacinto with me today. Actually it didn't take a lot of convincing.

Gorgeous day. First we microtuned the lens and both cameras to the new teleconverter. Not there ten minutes when we spotted a lovely juvenile red tailed. Then, around the next bend this Swainson's Hawk, rare and very early for this beautiful bird at SJWA. And I had a front row seat.

It was around this time that we ran into my friend Larry Moskovitz, all around great guy and very experienced and accomplished bird photographer.

He i.d.'d the Swainson's and right around that time another Swainson's showed up and they started doing aerobatics.

postscript: Mark Chappell ( Professor of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology at UCR) says that the other bird (on the bottom), which he also photographed, is actually a juvenile ferruginous. thank you, Mark!

I flubbed my shots and I am sure that theirs are much better so will not even post mine this time.

They both dived (dove?) and nailed something on the ground, displaying behavior much like the Swainson hawk Leslie and I saw up in Yellowstone.

It was perfect conditions with raptors seemingly everywhere. Harriers in every direction, red tailed and coopers.
Mark Chappell from UCR emailed me to tell me that I had misidentified this bird. Appreciate the heads up.

 red tailed juvenile
Surprisingly few kestrels, compared to my recent visits anyway. Must be too cool for the dragonflies they like to eat. You usually see them ten at a time on the poles on the Walker Rd.

But saw some beauties.

This kestrel was huge. Merlin size.

Caught my old friend the vermilion flycatcher but he was across a pond on an island and we couldn't get too close. I already have some great shots of this beauty. They are such pretty fliers.

We walked the big loop with heavy tripods and massive lenses giving us guys quite the workout.

Saw this yellow breasted chat. Or at least I thought it might be. Might be a yellow rumped or Audubon's warbler instead upon further inspection. (ed. pj says it is a Yellow rumped or Audubon's warbler. thanks pj.)

Photographed this Nuttal's woodpecker.  I also think the lens combo needs more micro adjustment. Seems to be front focussing a touch still. Almost but not quite there.

We will dial it in. These shots were taken with both my Nikon D7200 and D810, and both my 400mm and Sigma 150-600mm c lens's.

A badass little loggerhead shrike.

A harrier on the drop.

Honestly I took more shots than I can post. Saw huge flocks of white faced ibis, largest numbers I have ever seen. Lots of coots, lots of egrets. Very few herons this year for some reason.

And then to the piece de resistance. We drove out to the Walker Ponds, chasing these little mountain bluebirds from fence post to fence post.

Such a lovely hue, beautiful bird.

Then we saw it. A bald eagle, I think a third year juvenile, eating its feathered prey atop a power pole.

We got our tripods out, took our time and enjoyed the spectacle. A crow joined the eagle on the pole at one point, a rather familiar sight.

The crow eventually left. Another hawk flew in and tried to mob the eagle and he crowhopped with his lunch.

I took a lot of shots and will take the time to peruse. In any case had a really great day.

Always an honor to photograph our national bird, a very regal animal indeed.