Category Archives: Fauna

Happy Father’s Day!

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Reach out and I’ll be there

Picture of the Moment

It’s no secret that cats like sunshine and Zoey the Cool Cat is no exception.

In our old home there wasn’t much sunshine because of the overhang of the roof eaves and the mature eucalyptus and pine trees, both very tall.

In our new home, there is sunshine galore, and Zoey the Cool Cat knows where all the best sun spots are, as well as what time of the day the sun hits those spots.

Her favorite spot by far, though, is at the sliding glass door to the balcony. The sun hits that spot beginning at about noon and, since it faces west, is there until the sun goes down. So she gets about 8½ hours of sunshine on the balcony and on her cushion by the door.

And it’s that cushion where she can find some very interesting ways to sleep, as shown in the following three pictures. I titled the first one, “Reach Out and I’ll be there.”

img_2313 zoey the cool cat sleep stamp

img_2314 zoey the cool cat sleep stamp

img_2310 zoey the cool cat sleep stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

You don’t think she’s spoiled, do you? I would hate to have to put up with a spoiled cat.

Before the sun comes up and after the sun goes down she can be found on one of the two beds. I call the following picture “Reflection.”

img_2181 zoey the cool cat stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Creepy, just creepy

Halls of History

When I was 10, I wanted to be an anesthesiologist, but only because I could spell it. What I really wanted to be was a history teacher. Fifty years later, I still want to be a history teacher. Alas, I teach chess in after-school enrichment programs………

Rebel YellI just finished reading an Advance Reader’s Edition of “Rebel Yell—The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson” by S. C. Gwynne. Advance Reader’s Editions usually are full of typos and errors, and this one was no exception, including it noting that Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) signed the Constitution in 1887…….

Notwithstanding that, though, I learned about a horse that is 165 years old! Its name is Little Sorrel (1850-1886) and it was General Jackson’s horse from the Civil War. “How,” you might ask, “is General Jackson’s horse 165 years old? Well, I’m glad you asked!

The Appendix, titled “Other Lives, Other Destinies,” includes this bit about Little Sorrel:

Lost after the Battle of Chancellorsville [which is the battle where General Jackson was wounded, wounds which eventually caused him to contract pneumonia, from which he died about nine days later] the horse Jackson called ‘Fancy’ was eventually recovered by a Confederate soldier and sent to Virginia governor John Letcher, who in turn sent him to live with Anna Jackson [Stonewall’s wife] in North Carolina. The horse became a much-loved pet, famous for using his mouth to lift latches and let himself out of his stable. In Anna Jackson’s memoir she said that he would ‘go deliberately to the doors of all the other horses and mules, liberate each one, and then march off with them all behind him … to the green fields of grain around the farm.’ Fences proved no obstacle to him, either. He would use his mouth and muzzle to life off fence rails until the fence was low enough to jump over. He later lived at VMI [Virginia Military Institution, where Jackson taught before the War], where he grazed on the parade ground and was a favorite of cadets, and spent his last days at the old confederate Soldiers’ Home. His hid was stuffed and mounted and can be seen today at VMI.”

Of course, I had to search the Internet to see if Little Sorrel still was at VMI. Indeed, he is:

Little-Sorrel-VMI

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Personally, I think that’s creepy.

My dad killed an 18-point deer when he was very young. Granddad had the deer head stuffed, and it hung on the wall of the living room. I despised that thing. In 1968, my oldest uncle from Los Angeles, California, came home to visit Kingsville, Texas, for Christmas. He took the deer head back to L.A. with him. I was never so happy to see something gone.

Stuffed heads and animals are common interior decorations, especially in the South. Unfortunately, my favorite restaurant here in San Diego County, Famous Dave’s BBQ in Vista, has some stuffed animal heads in their restaurant. Fortunately, when I go with Jim and his mom and boyfriend, we always get seated far, far away from those stuffed animals.

Maybe I’ll have Zoey the Coot Cat stuffed when she dies….

NOT!

Creepy, just creepy.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray PhotosI'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Did you come to see me?

San Diego Zoo logo

Yesterday afternoon I decided that I had experienced the joy of unpacking boxes long enough and needed a reward for my diligence.

Quite often when I need a reward I resort to a visit to the San Diego Zoo.

Whenever I make a short trip to the Zoo I usually make it a point to visit Flamingo Lagoon to see my favorite birds and Cat Canyon to see the big kitties.

Sadly, Cat Canyon is no more….

Cat Canyon was the oldest part of the zoo. Many of the cages there were original from 1916 when the Zoo opened; none of them were newer than the mid-1930s.

The San Diego Zoo was the originator of open exhibit areas instead of cages, so it’s nice to see these cages bite the dust. During the next two years, Cat Canyon will be transformed into Africa Rocks.

If you’ve ever experienced the newer exhibits at the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park, such as Elephant Odyssey and Koalafornia, you know that Africa Rocks will be magnificent. After a $10 million renovation, Africa Rocks will include a 65-foot waterfall, the largest manmade water fall in San Diego. Heck, it probably will be the largest waterfall period! We are not known for our waterfalls….

Meanwhile, one has to traipse all around the Zoo—and at 100 acres with hills and canyons that can wear you out quickly—to see all the big kitties.

The Amur Leopard and Snow Leopard are now at the new entrance to Panda Trek, and it is now more of a Trek than it was originally.

The Malayan Tigers are down Hippo Trail, and there is a new trail leading to the back of the area for the tigers, and it’s awesome! It provides a vantage point that allows one to get pictures like these:

img_2208 malayan tiger stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

img_2240 malayan tiger stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

img_2249 malayan tiger stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The expression on the face in the second picture seems to be saying, “Ah, did you come to see me? You’re so sweet. Thank you so much!”

The Malayan Tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni) lives only on the Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia and are an endangered species. As of September 2014, an estimated population of about 340 tigers is all that remains outside of the world’s zoos and sanctuaries. Habitat destruction and commercial poaching are the main threats to the Malayan Tiger.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

The queen’s sun deck

Picture of the Moment

Yesterday was the first day since May 24 that I was able to visit blogs, do a little reading, and leave a few LIKEs and comments.

On any given day, I normally visit a minimum of 100 blogs. I visited 13 yesterday, so I’m not back in the blogosphere at full strength yet. I’m heading that way.

If you’re one of the 137 people who have visited my blog since May 24 and either liked one of my posts, commented on one of my posts, or possibly even followed me, AND I don’t know you, rest assured that I will be getting by your blog soon to see who you are and what you’re about, leave a few LIKEs, maybe some comments, and perhaps even follow you. I can tell you, though, that if your blog is 100% religious or 100% pornography, I won’t be LIKEing, commenting, or following. That’s just the way it is.

Of course, everything is dependent on how much quality time Zoey the Cool Cat demands. She’s patiently waiting for me out on the balcony after having requested that we rename the “balcony” to “The Queen’s Sun Deck.”

img_2089 zoey the cool cat sunshine stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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I’m not back full time, but she is

Picture of the Moment

We met our deadline of being out of the old home by midnight on June 4.

Unfortunately I made myself quite sick.

There was 8 years of dander, dust mites, and such in that place.

I have vowed never again to have carpeting unless I have enough money (or am willing to spend the money) to have someone else come in weekly and clean the stuff. Nasty, nasty, nasty. Give me tile or wood so I can just sweep.

Along with organizing the new home, coughing and hacking, and sleeping, I’m not back full-time at the computer.

Zoey the Cool Cat, on the other hand, is back full time at doing what she does best:

img_2127 zoey the cool cat sunshine stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

A serial killer, he will be

Out & About

May 2015 went down as the second wettest May in San Diego’s recorded history with 2.39 inches of rain.

To put that into perspective, May normally gets about one-tenth of an inch of rain.

To put it into better perspective, I grew up in Texas where afternoon thunderstorms often dropped three or four inches of rain….

….IN ONE DAY!

I have been through many hurricanes which brought lots of rain, of course, but I also was in two afternoon thunderstorms which dropped over seven inches of rain in one hour.

The first was at the Texas A&M University-Baylor football game in College Station in 1973, my freshman year. The skies were clear and sunny when halftime arrived. The teams went to their locker rooms as thunder clouds rolled through. By the time halftime was over, the field was flooded and the stadium was half empty because no one had brought umbrellas. It had been clear and sunny all morning!

By the time they got the field drained and the second half started, it was clear and sunny again. Sheesh. No wonder why I love San Diego’s weather!

One of the fascinating things about San Diego’s weather is the creation of vernal pools when it rains. They are not difficult to find but you do have to know what you’re looking for. Here’s the largest vernal pool I have yet to find in San Diego:

img_1962 vernal pool old town stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

What’s that?

I didn’t hear you.

You’ll have to speak up.

You say it looks like a giant mud puddle?

You’re exactly right!

That’s a mud puddle.

Visitors to San Diego often wonder why the mud puddles aren’t drained and the area landscaped….

When I was young and living in Kingsville, Texas, with my wise old grandmother, I used to go out in my rain coat and play in the mud puddles. I’d come back all wet, leading my wise old grandmother to chastise me for getting all wet because I would catch a cold. Not sure if I ever caught a cold but I sure had fun playing in those mud puddles!

Old Town San Diego State Historic ParkThis mud puddle, er, I mean vernal pool, is at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, California’s most popular state park. When I first came across it, there was a young boy, probably about six or seven, standing in the mud puddle—Oh, dear me. I mean vernal pool, of course—yelling at his mommy, “Look, mommy! Look!” He was so proud standing there in the midst of the water. Mommy, on the other hand, was aghast, and considering that she was trying hard to keep her four young ones close to her, I think she was exasperated, too.

Vernal pools provide habitat for plants and animals, very distinctive plants and animals. The pools are a type of wetland usually devoid of fish, thus allowing the safe development of amphibian and insect species unable to withstand predation by fish.

Mud puddles—Ooops. There I go again.—vernal pools are created by local surface runoff. You can see the erosion from the runoff in this picture:

img_1965 vernal pool old town stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Once the sun comes out, the water quickly evaporates and the soil is desiccated. According to Wikipedia, they are called vernal pools because they are at their maximum depth in the vernal season, i.e., the spring.

Once the pools are filled with water, they quickly teem with life—frogs and toads, salamanders, daphnia, fairy shrimp, and tadpole shrimp being the most common.

The Conservancy Fairy Shrimp (Branchinecta conservation) is a species that only exists in California. It ranges in size from ½ inch fairy shrimpto 1 inch (picture ►), and since it is an endangered species, you’ll often hear about construction projects in California being brought to a halt because it rained, created some vernal pools, and biologists found Conservancy Fairy Shrimp. Only in California can multi-billion-dollar projects come to a screeching halt due to a few half-inch long creatures that are born, live, breed, and die in a matter of days.

Remember that little boy standing in the vernal pool (Nah! He was standing in a mud puddle!) that I mentioned earlier? Imagine all of the little creatures that he had just stomped to death. A serial killer, he will be….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post