Sunday, May 31, 2020

A living missile

This was filmed at Torrey Pines several years ago. I was looking at some of the sequence shots I took Friday of the young peregrine falcon, not even a week in the air, divebombing the pelicans. Amazing really. That this behavior is so innate. Bird is a month old. Not much bigger than a sparrow. Taking on a whole flock.

It was incredible. Several pelicans went upside down to evade the invader. One almost completely lost it. Ultimately everyone regained their balance and flew away.

Click on them and they will enlarge.

Ry Cooder

Great musicians on this 1970 cut including Roy Estrada, Van Dyke Parks, Max Bennett, Ritchie Hayward and Chris Ethridge. I am very familiar with Jorma's excellent version but don't think I have ever listened to Ry's. Plays it as well if not better than Kaukonen. Song was written by early bluesman Blind Blake.

Cloudy Day Peregrine

Guy Clark

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Birds and fish

Yesterday a good friend mentioned that I was getting a little too birdy. I suppose that I know what he means.

There have been a lot of birds lately on the blast.

And he actually understood the reason why.

Because birds and flowers lower your blood pressure. And I suppose that I am getting low on piss and vinegar.

Birds don't tend to piss too many people off. Besides, I don't have the emotional resources to be angry all the time.

With all the shit going down in the world, the last thing I want to do is be triggered.

And I don't want to needlessly trigger anyone else either. No one is switching sides at this stage of the battle.

There is little point preaching. Roughly 38 to 43% of the people simply won't give a damn whatever I say and that is also their right.

I mentioned that I was dialing back on the rage and reactivity a few months ago. The cancer isn't out of the woods, I have a biopsy scheduled very soon and I have had the current go with the shingles. So I don't have the gasoline in my tank to do a lot of teeth gnashing right now. I guess you could call it conservation of energy.

And the truth is, Trump is not the problem today. He was a catalyst and he exacerbated the tension but even if Biden wins and whatever ultimately happens in congress, the underlying elephant in the room is the fact that the two Americas can barely speak to each other, certainly rarely civilly, there is no center or notion of compromise any more, just craven exercises in raw power. On both sides. Strike and maim while you can because the guy across from you will, if he gets the chance.

The fact is that our values systems are so different that we now have this gigantic cultural and political chasm and a completely ineffective government, and well, that's not going to change soon. It's bloodsport. Certain people enjoy it. People like McConnell love a good knife fight.

If it is environmental in nature I'll do my damnedest to mention it. Although I did forget to cover the recent "pay what ever you want to for oil leases" strategy. The red blue pissing match, shit throwing carnival, not fun for me right now. Reality is scary, racially, environmentally, politically, from a civil rights perspective, covid, it is almost all too much to handle. Afraid you'll have to start the revolution without me.

We have to ask ourselves, the actions that I take, are they helping or are they hurting our fellow terrans? What will keep me off the psychiatrist's couch and away from the internet? Where can I hide?

Birds, I dig.

Yesterday I was thinking that I was bummed that I would miss the young falcon at Torrey Pines. Has only been flying for a week.

I couldn't skip it. I drove down in the afternoon and found that there was no parking on coast highway. I would take a side street and park very far away. And I had flip flops on. But I needed to do it and walked, finally made it to the cliffs.

Waited an hour and no birds. Talked to a cool photographer named Sam. And then bam, the mother flies in, then the father and then I see the smallest juvenile I have ever seen fly by. So fast I could hardly capture it.

We got twenty or thirty minutes of aerobatics, young falcon dove on some pelicans. It was all very cool.

I had my lesser, lighter lens and it was very cloudy and gray but I made do. The length of the zoom made it the go to lens for the occasion. The birds were high on the cliff, pretty far away.

The pictures would not be epic. A lot to go through but it will surprise me if I got anything noteworthy, but still I did the best I could and am very happy to see such an incredible young bird.

I watched the male and female adults do a lot of flying and aerobatics.

But then the kid would fly in and it is so fast that I could hardly snap a picture.

The little kid is a rocket ship. I cracked up when he went after the pelicans in a deep dive.

It was a great day. My legs still hurt today from the walk.

Glad I went.

My computer drives are full. Two 8tb drives with my plus 200,000 images.

Had to do some heavy cutting and triage today to load them.

Mission critical.

This morning we drove down to the harbor in San Diego for the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market. Bought right from the fishermen.

We bought Big eye tuna to eat fresh and to smoke. Black cod, whitefish too. A little wahoo. Leslie is picking up salmon too. We smoke tomorrow with friends.

Bought some halibut too. They were out of sand dabs.

Crabs looked good, so did the prawns.

Place was packed, took a while to get in. Line all the way down to the U.S.S. Midway. Get there early.

Visually rich, the fish and the people.

Sheepshead had a pretty hue.

For a very small fee, they clean and split your fish for you.

I enjoyed watching them work. I was shooting with my old nikkor 55mm 1.2. Nice to get back into the manual focus groove.

This guy cleaned our fish, an older fellow. He was very careful about keeping his workspace clean, I liked the care he showed.

I can't wait to go back.

Looking forward to tomorrow too.

Eating the fish.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Dave Van Ronk

This is an Appalachian folk song originally known as Little Sparrow or Tiny Sparrow. Van Ronk calls it swallow here. It is also know as Come all ye fair and tender ladies. There are so many great covers including Peter, Paul and Mary, Odetta. Aretha, The Chieftans and more. But Gene Clarke and Carla Olsons' rendition will always be my favorite. The great Van Ronk does a nice job with it here too.

Birdbath wanted

I am looking for a cool birdbath or two for my house. preferably antique, concrete, stone or ceramic.

A little broken is okay if functional and beautiful. Can't spend a bunch of money.

Please keep your eye out for me.

Robbie Basho

Amber moon, Fallbrook

The moon you see here in the sky before you actually appeared in that very same spot.

Over Fallbrook, California.

It is not a chimera or a simulacrum.

It was not photographed separately and pasted in, nor made to look as large as a basketball.

I am so freaking old school. It rose up in the sky and I snapped its picture!

Sorry about the smog bank, that was out of my control.

I just finished the revised Photoshop course I am writing and it has been sent out for edit.

I am now creating a new Adobe Lightroom course curriculum.

Very helpful to teach, you end up learning a lot that you had either forgotten or never even knew.

I am enjoying the process and going through my library deciding which of my pictures to put in the course for exercises.

One thing I have learned as I have gotten older is that you have to be a fierce editor.

I took nineteen hundred and sixty four shots of hummingbirds the other day, less than ten are even close to being acceptable. Hit that delete button, especially if you find yourself making subtle excuses to yourself as to why something that is substandard might be actually acceptable. Don't fool your self.

Be as critical as you possibly can.

If you fancy yourself to be an artist of any kind, you better give yourself high standards to live up to. Don't settle. Or else you are just a plain old hack.

Open it up?

Supervisor Jim Desmond, who seems to be a really great guy, can not wait until we get the local economy opened up again. He sends out a video almost every day. Today's video was more of the same.

I can't help but think that there is a mixed message being presented here, that the median age of those dying from Covid 19 is 78 years old, as if those people have lived a full life already and are somehow now expendable.

I realize that many people agree with Desmond regarding the need to open things up. I also realize that you can not save the life of every person and that there are terrible costs to being locked down. But as a person undergoing cancer treatment, my odds of dying are twice that of healthy people according to a new study and I am personally going to remain very cautious. Fallbrook was at nine total confirmed cases a month ago, we have inched up to 25 now. There are obviously carriers in our community.

Anyway I wrote the Supervisor a letter, have not received a response but never do, and I publish my query anyway.
Who do you think is infecting those housebound older people? Or rather, how old are they? Asymptomatic young people perhaps? Are we being asked to somehow have less grief for a person who has been allowed to live a full life and gets covid and dies? You've had your shot, get out of the way...The biggest canard is that people of any age will somehow "behave responsibly" when faced with issues of self preservation, one only has to look at pictures from the Ozarks, Alabama or even Pacific Beach last weekend to disabuse yourself of that notion. And what if a teacher doesn't feel safe teaching those kids you want to send back to school. Are you going to fire her or him?
Robert Sommers   
Fallbrook, CA
Will let you know if I ever get a response.

Nina Simone

Thursday, May 28, 2020


Valley blues

Thirty one years in this particular valley and it finally happened. We have been discovered. For three decades human presence has been relegated to the few people who live in my valley and an occasional horse trailer or two on the weekends down by the mailboxes.

Since the pandemic we have been inundated with hikers, bikers, joggers, horseback riders, fishermen and walkers. The Wildlands group who administer the river put signs up; No parking, no hiking. People didn't care, they went in anyway. Parked in front of the sign and walked right past them.

I just drove home, after six o'clock. About twelve cars at the trailhead and more all the way down the road. I hate it. We live here in your new amusement park.

After heavy policing by the Wildlands Conservancy they suddenly disappeared a few weeks ago. I caught up with one of their rangers the other day, asked him what was up? I guess traffic is so bad on the other end of the trail at Sandia Creek that they had to put all their people there, says my valley ain't nothin' compared.

I guess the Orange County folks among others have put the word out on social media that it was a great place to hike and hang. We have been put on the map. The Wildlands people have tried to go online to various sites and ask people not to come but it is no use. People decide which rules they will obey these days rather selectively and have no little or no respect for public or private property.

I sure hope that it is just a passing fancy and that they forget about the place but it may be hopeless and too far gone. Word is out. I guess I should be glad I got thirty one good years in. Still I wish they would just go home. Infect some other place.

Google metrics

I don't know what the actual metric is. Google said that the blog hit three million page views yesterday. But I had messages from Google that I had over seven million views five years ago. How does that square up?

Must have been demoted in some great Google purge. Quite possible actually. And I took that six month sabbatical in 2013, remember?

Of course it is immaterial after a certain point. A hell of a lot of people have tuned in over the years.

And the traffic was even bigger in the middle period, my blue period if you will. A couple thousand more people a day. The only problem was that I had written so much, on so many subjects and so saturated the web that I would look something up and find myself being cited.

Which is kind of creepy because what the hell do I know, after all I'm no expert, just another information processing chimp with a keyboard? But I was showing up at the top of too many web searches, too many for either my or Google's liking.

So they dialed me down a notch with the new algorithm and I am actually grateful. Took off some pressure to produce and I no longer had to respond to people as much. The amount of hateful trolls has stayed pretty constant throughout but I now instantly delete so as not to feed them or give them any oxygen in hopes they will find more friendly pastures and obsessions.

Somebody asked me if I was on Instagram. Well, I was or am but I didn't and don't feed it. I don't like the aspect ratio or the compression. I tried to stick something up recently and the Lightroom desktop plug in no longer works. So I would have to send the damn photo to my phone and it sounds more trouble than it is worth.

I still stay in the slow lane with my blog and plod along.

I did recently rejoin Twitter because there is too much good political stuff I couldn't see, having cut the cord a couple years ago. If you tweet please follow me at @Robertblueheron

The Blue Heron Gallery actually has a Facebook page too that I should probably utilize. If you want to follow me I will try to look at it more often. I check it on a yearly basis at this point.

Thanks for the three million!

Peter Walker - White Wind

Red tailed and avian prey

I guess I should apologize for the rather graphic nature of this one. The universe operates with a very cutthroat equation, much of the time. Predators and prey. Unfortunately, the raptors have not as yet had their kumbaya moment. Neither have many humans for that matter.

Still I find this picture rather interesting. To my knowledge, red tailed hawks are not really bird eaters, preferring small mammals. Now your Red shouldered and Cooper's hawks will eat small birds as will the falcons, eagles and harriers but this series of shots might be a new one for me. Will have to look at my files.

Joe Ely and Joel Guzman

Wednesday, May 27, 2020


Over the years it has been an annual rite for me to shoot the young peregrine falcons at Torrey Pines. They usually fledge late April, early May. There are normally two or three young birds hatched. It is a delight to see them learn to fly, to do food exchanges, to practice aerobatics, in fact a high point of my year.

This year, due to the pandemic, Torrey Pines State Reserve is unfortunately closed. According to my sources, only one baby hatched. He or she is flying but you can only shoot from the beach and you are not allowed to stand in one place. The upper area is still closed. I may be s.o.l. this year. Kind of a drag. Hate to break my streak.

Vocational casualties

It is trite at this point to say that the pandemic has turned the world upside down, I don't need to tell anybody. But I was thinking of three distinct avocations that have been seriously affected harder than most. Wonder if they will ever rebound in the future. Or if we have possibly learned that there are things we can do without?

1. Sports nuts. The people that had to watch games constantly in their previous life have had to fill their space doing something else during this down time. Hopefully something constructive or productive. Besides drinking. I wonder if they have yet figured out that they can do without being spectators? With all the brain injury problems I think football is a modern day equivalent of christians and lions. Brutal game. I would not be personally sad if it went bye bye. I wonder how the sports junkies are coping?

2. How have gamblers dealt with being shut out of the casinos? Are they raring to go back and get some action or can they chill out and bide their time? Sit a few hands out. Can you imagine the health risks you take entering a casino? Might as well get a job in a meatpacking plant...

3. Sportswriters. My local paper has consolidated their sports section to a couple pages on the back of the business section. Nothing to cover really, but they have been industrious, repackaging what little history the local teams have that constitutes past glory and mixing in a few spicy anecdotes. But how long can they keep it up if there are no games? I feel for these guys, they are fighting for their jobs right now. Can't write about sports too much if there are no sports to cover. I feel for these guys the most.

Yehudi Menuhin & Ravi Shankar - Tenderness

Callipepla californica

I don't get a lot of pictures of quail. Not by choice, it is just that they are so darn fast and elusive. This is by no means a great shot but it is a picture taken in my yard early yesterday morning, obstructed by underbrush. We always have many of the California state birds hanging around. Love the whoosh sound of the bevy taking flight. No, you can't bring your shotgun over.

Going out if it kills me

This is an interesting video. It is of course, an attitude not exclusive to Alabama, in fact it is representative of a wave of potentially self destructive behavior that can be seen in every region of our country, all facing the same deadly microbe.

Young people think they are immune. There are thousands of cases that shows that they are not. Many people of all ages who are lucky enough to survive Covid 19 will have significant organ damage and health problems for the rest of their lives. Guess what? They don't care.

I was taught that one of the first innate rules of human behavior was self preservation. But maybe I was wrong. Maybe things have changed, if change is even possible after 400,000 plus years of biological evolution and programming.

I was thinking about this the other day. If you can get people to throw their lives away, all the rational models go out the window. Hence you get kamakazi pilots in World War II and suicide bombers throughout the middle east. Helpful to have a nationalistic or religious cause as a prime motivator. People can be manipulated into acting against their own lives and self interest very easily.

But this devil may care, if I get it, I get it attitude just seems feloniously stupid to me, not to mention foreign to our first directive. If the President isn't wearing a mask, why should I?

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Memorial day waveform

novo ordo © robert sommers 2020

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

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.