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hummer

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Memorial day waveform


novo ordo © robert sommers 2020

Sandy Bull


Turn this up as loud as you possibly can.

Tuesday stuff


Heidi Becker's daughter Jess up in Oregon has adopted a couple baby squirrels orphans. Very cool.

Jon Harwood caught this shot at the Park and Ride in Fallbrook the other day. Talk about decisive moment.

Michael Loughlin snapped a picture of his very favorite hue of orange.

I like it too. My favorite cultivar of rose is Brass Band, which is a nice color too.

My great friend Don Leichtling just received a new heart down in San Diego and everything is working great! He has a great positive attitude.

Terry DeWald sent a picture that was taken of his son and him in front of Cerro Fitz Roy in Patagatonia.


Walt Borton sent out this piquant reminder through John Morris of the sometimes brutal nature of southwest politics.

Richard Hudgins sends this: https://lithub.com/the-end-of-something-on-radical-change-in-a-time-of-pandemic/

Robert Bijou sent a link to his favorite house music site.

David Adler sends over the excellent site, Trailers from Hell.

Renée sent over a picture of her delicious new banana crop.

Jeff and Gena up in Alaska sent a sign that shows how the natives estimate distance up there. Very cool.

By moose rack and full sized salmon.

Greg sends a picture of clown, one of my favorite epis, hybridized by our old friend George French.

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The baby hawks flew the coop yesterday. No sight of them. Usually they stage on dead branches near the nest for a few days.

I hope that I get to see them again.


Ibis and egrets


Monday, May 25, 2020

Walk on boy

Grebe study


Freddie King

Birdy Sunday


Certain photographers say that you should shoot the first two hours after sunrise and the two hours at sunset and nothing in between. My practice is not nearly so draconian but there is certainly a special beauty in the twilight hours.

Yesterday I decided to hit my nature preserve early. I left the house at 5:30, startled a large barn owl on a tree, and took the approximately forty five minute drive north.

I watched the sun rise up over San Jacinto to the east, as did these ballooners I passed in my car, hanging my camera out the window at 75 mph.

As I pulled up to my favorite side road, I rolled my window down and like clockwork was greeted by the beautiful trill of a meadowlark, who greets me at the same spot every trip. There's no more beautiful song in the world.


A heavy fog lay over the valleys. I got to the gate of SJWA and it was closed, it would not open for another half hour. So I drove over to the Walker Ponds and watched the mist rise up behind the levees and startled some waterfowl in the process.

It was wonderful to be there in the cool morning hours, very peaceful. I watched a flock of ibis fly by, still silhouetted in the darkness of dawn. I waited while the sun came up and then slowly ambled back to the reserve.


I saw a big group of egrets packed together in a levee and watched as they took off en masse over the beautiful southern California chaparral.

A paraglider from Perris dropped over the hill to observe the goings on as well.

I looked in on the red tailed hawks nest, the two young eyass not too far away in development from the birds in my own valley.

I drove over to the loop and went for a hike. I had kept the zoom on the camera all morning and would not lug the larger beast on a long walk. Checked out the beautiful tree swallows in the usual places.

I stopped to pee and at that moment saw a falcon fly off a tree perch. I could do nothing but pay attention to the matters at hand.

It was a slow day raptor wise. Not one harrier, unusual. Place is getting dryer certainly but there was still water around. This was certainly a perfect, lazy day and whatever I ran into was fine with me.

I met Chet, one of the legendary birders of Southern California and introduced myself.

Had seen him around a couple times.

Your basic awesome day. If you like this sort of thing, anyway.

I took way too many pictures yesterday, could burn you out.

The zoom performs decently in the right lighting conditions.

ash throated flycatcher
It was nice to hike before things got too hot.

When I got back to the car I stuck the 400mm 2.8 on the camera.


I left the preserve early enough to stop at Trader Joes and buy provisions for breakfast and Kohls for my new bird feeder pole.


Later in the day I set up my tripod in front of the lavender and verbena and captured some pictures of various hummingbirds including Costa's which I rarely get.

Took a million shots, none of them terribly good. Think I blew my settings trying to experiment. Sometimes I need to stick with what I know.



Sunday, May 24, 2020

Happy birthday, Bob Dylan!

The great thinning continues...

Ocean City, Maryland 5.23.20 - Kevin Lamarque
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In Oklahoma pork packing town, Covid 19 spurs faith and fear.
...Still, some people in Guymon are dismissive of the COVID-19 risk, calling mask wearers “sheep” or suggesting God will protect those who have faith.“Being country people, it seems like our immunity is a lot higher, and we have Jesus,” says Kalye Griffin, 42, owner of the Top Hand Western Store.
I honestly think Jesus can do a lot of wonderful things for people but I don't think protecting ignorant rednecks taking needless risks from Covid 19 is real high on his current "to do" list. I think self inflicted wounds rank a bit lower on the divine triage docket. But what do I know?

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I saw this interesting comment on a Fox page I was trolling today, from Shoriyuken:

I mean as morbid as it sounds I would agree that liquor stores are more essential than churches. You don't want to simultaneously cut alcoholics off from their source and confine them to their homes; the physical and mental ramifications for them and those around them would be devastating. Also God is everywhere, booze is not.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Mask shamers

Tony called from Arizona.  He is doing a show. He said very few people he has seen, at least relative to California, are wearing masks or practicing social distancing.

Nothing to see here folks, problem solved, the covid 19 hoax is over. Go back to your business and pretend nothing has happened.

Two three interesting articles today caught my eye.

https://thehill.com/homenews/media/499311-reporter-harassed-for-wearing-a-mask-while-covering-a-restaurant-reopening

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/23/north-dakota-governor-doug-burgum-tears-coronavirus-mask-shaming

https://www.charlotteobserver.com/charlottefive/c5-wellness/article242809766.html

By all means, red state dipshits, proclaim your idiocy for all to see.

The orange one and the new black

I assume that most of you have heard about the Edenville dam breach and disaster in Michigan. The epic failure and environmental disaster came after repeated warnings and the scene happens to be located directly above a toxic Superfund site and the headquarters of Dow Chemical.
The dam, owned by Boyce Hydro Power since 2007, used to produce a small amount of electricity until a dispute with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission culminated with the agency revoking the company’s license to use the dam for electrical generation in 2018. The agency said that Boyce Hydro had refused for 13 years to build a spillway that could divert floodwaters away from the dam, which it said was in danger of failing in a heavy storm. The agency said Boyce Hydro had an “extensive record of noncompliance.”
Salon has an excellent article today about the problem and what happens when for profit companies control infrastructure. Usually they go belly up when things go bad and the problems end up getting remediated by the American taxpayer, who also pick up the tab. Coal bankruptcy in Appalachia, uranium tailings in Utah, it happens again and again.

But the article points out the incredible choices we make in this country, over a billion dollars spent on a mere forty two miles of border wall that got repeatedly breached the first day of its existence and another million dollars plus a mile spent because the big orange turd decides he now wants to paint it black. The Mordor edition. Talk about an empty gesture by the decorator in chief. Form and image over function, again and again. And we get the bill.

Friday, May 22, 2020

"Natural ability" by Barry Blitt

Violet hummer

As far as I can discern, well, according to bird guru Phil Unitt, who is the final authority around these parts, the violet crowned hummingbird, amazilia violiceps, has been found nine times previously in California but until now, only once ever in San Diego. This relatively large, not to mention gorgeous bird, was not even sighted nesting north of the Mexican border until 1959.

wikimedia commons
They don't tend to stick around too long. One hung out in Los Angeles for five days in May of 1987.

Well, lo and behold, one has shown up around here for the first time in a great while.

At a clothing optional resort near Jacumba. The resort people are being accommodating to select groups of birders but no cameras or scopes allowed. No ogling the fauna permitted.

And please don't leer at the bird either. It is a bit self conscious. Sort of a shrinking violet.

No wandering around on your own either. Might get your bushtit in a wringer. Don't want to sound like an alarmist but that is the naked truth. And I have no skin in the game.

This came in this afternoon from the San Diego Birding Group:
Today, 22 May, a small group, with coordination through the homeowner and resort management did a brief exploratory trip today, saw the bird, and discussed future access possibilities as access was not granted indefinitely. Pre-arranged, group permission (see below) was granted for a small number of people tomorrow (Saturday), but no solo at-will visitation is allowed. Additionally, you must comply with the following rules and guidance below. Keep in mind this is a "clothing optional" resort, and, although our interactions were extremely limited, residents are likely uncomfortable with large numbers of clothed people carrying optics. 
I'm actually very sympatico. I am not quite comfortable with people that wear clothes either. Residents are not down with clothed people carrying optics, but I imagine that if you disrobe, in the general spirit of the event, you will have a far better reception. Bring lotion.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Hung upside down

Bird's nest season


It appears to be that time of the year. A few weeks ago, my friend Robin alerted me to the fact that she had an interesting bird nesting on her porch. I sent pictures of it to ace birder, resident expert Ken Weaver, he said that it was a Pacific Slope Flycatcher and it was rare for them to nest in a human structure like this. Tend to like riparian stumps by creeks.

She looked up the bird's song online (easy for her, being a singer) and said that he was absolutely correct.

I went over with my outfit today and snapped a few shots of the clan.

Three little birdies were chirping away and it didn't take long for mom to show up with food. A mosquito hawk of some kind.



I was not that successful with my new flash but I am still dialing it in. The D850 is so good in low light that I took it off, didn't really need it.



If you see any cool nests around, do give me a call if you are local. Thanks to Robin and Dave for letting me swing by. And to Ken Weaver for the expert help.

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Postscript: Timing is everything. She called me to talk about the nest at noon. I showed up at 1:00 this afternoon and took my shots. A couple hours later the young birds flew away. Robin says that they have been mightily flapping their wings of late. So I could not have hit the window more perfectly. Very lucky. Glad I didn't wait.

The Hombres - Let it all hang out

Phainopepla

Here I post an old picture of a phainopepla I took with my prehistoric Bigma lens. Did the job. Loaned it to someone who got sand in the gears and destroyed it. Fifteen hundred dollars, goodbye. Crickets. I never brought it up.

Just to show you that I can actually take a picture of the bird once in a great while.


Misfire at the lake.

Was a frustrating afternoon yesterday. I was trying to clear up some delinquent business with the county tax collector on my commercial building. I called three times and got busy signals so figured I would drive to the San Marcos office and settle in person.

Unfortunately, due to Covid 19, the office was closed up tighter than a Vegas Shriner's convention. The guard at the door gave me a tip on how to get around the phone problems, the secret number. I called. Thirteen people in the cue, I stewed and waited, got gas on fifth in Escondido, phone pressed firmly to my ear and decided if I had to wait to talk to somebody I might as well do it at someplace pretty. On the phone for over forty five minutes waiting, after an interminable number of prompts and cues.

I drove out towards Lake Wohlford. I was a little worried about reception, had I made yet another stupid move? And just as the queue went to me the phone conked out. Shit. Not my day. The lake to my surprise was actually open. A few boats idled along peacefully on the water. Sort of perfect out. Hot but not too hot.

I decided to take a walk on the osprey trail. I stuck a water bottle in my back pocket, my wife's voice ringing in my ear.

It was lovely out. A red naped sapsucker flew into one of the beautiful old oaks. Tried to follow it to get a shot but failed to get anything decent.


I started slipping on the trail and realized that my Sketcher tennis shoes do not grip like the New Balance I customarily wear. I decided not to push things and hurt myself. In enough pain with the shingles, didn't need to fall on my ass too. Would have loved to have been out on a boat. Tom said he would pilot the boat again but actually getting him to do it might prove difficult... Loved my last photo session with him.

I had the lighter zoom with me. With the strong afternoon light it might be okay? It wasn't. The prime spoils you.

I took one hundred and ninety two shots, maybe one was good, if that. Botched another picture of a phainopepla. Hate taking crappy pictures.

I don't handle failure very well. One of the reasons I stopped painting, you are only good as your last canvas and my consistency was not optimal.

So you become an emotional wreck and walk around bummed out if you are unhappy with a painting and you care about the quality of your output.

Now it is true that many do not, amazing what you can get away with if you don't care, I admit my self punishment is entirely self imposed.

Which reminds me of the photos in the medical office down at Mercy with the large photographic murals that sport a chromatic aberration band about an inch wide. Dreadful.

You get three hits out of ten trips to the plate in major league baseball during your lifetime and chances are you are going to the Hall of Fame. Doesn't work that way in art. Maybe that is why so many artists are content to play it safe.

I am thankfully not nearly as neurotic with photography for some reason as I was with my painting, less emotionally invested, and I contented myself to have an excellent walk. Which I did.

Saw a mature bald eagle swoop down in the lake and settle in an old oak on the far side. Too far away to get an adequate shot with my set up.

Makes me want to go back there when I feel better and just kill it. Start early in the morning, bring the great lens, hit the reeds, hike the back side, give the place its due.

Felt slightly inadequate, stumbling around like a shitty lover. But hey, at least I was there to see the eagle, right? I'll be back.