San Diego: A bird-lover’s paradise
San Diego County lays claim to a bird-lover’s paradise because there have been more species of birds seen in the County than in any other county in the nation. The current tally is 505 different species of birds being seen here.
Early this morning my assistant, Eric Cooper, and I took advantage of that claim to go out with the San Diego Beginning Birders meetup group. We met at 8:00 at Hernandez Hideway at 19320 Lake Drive in Escondio, right on the shores of Lake Hodges.
There are many parking lots on the shore side of Lake Drive, and we chose one of them to park everyone’s cars, about 20 cars for about 30 people. Overlooking the parking lot were lots of eucalyptus trees and oak trees, and in the trees were about a dozen acorn woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicivorus). Here are two of them:
According to the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, acorn woodpeckers are very sociable and usually found in small, noisy colonies. They eat mainly acorns and use a granary tree to store food. A granary tree is a tree with dozens, maybe hundreds, of holes pecked into the trunk, and each hole is filled with acorns. It looks like this:
Acorn woodpeckers use the same granary tree year after year, so if you want to see a lot of woodpeckers, now you know where to go!
Pictures taken by Russel Ray using a Canon 550D.
I have an annual pass to the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park. I go at least once a week to one of them.
The Zoo occupies 100 acres while Safari Park has 1,800 acres.
The Zoo is in Balboa Park near downtown San Diego, while Safari Park is near Escondido, about 45 miles northeast of downtown San Diego.
Safari Park was founded in 1972 while the Zoo was founded as part of the 1915 Panama-California International Exposition.
Both the Zoo and the Safari Park are internationally recognized botanical gardens. When you go to either of them, then, it’s always worthwhile to spend some time looking at the flora, too.
Since it’s been raining off and on for the past several days, something that’s rare in San Diego, the photographers are out en masse looking for those magical pictures with water on them.
I got mine at the San Diego Zoo:
That’s a passionflower (Passiflora sp.), one of my top five flowers. There are about five hundred species of passionflowers but only nine are native to the United States. Most of them are vines, and San Diegans like to grow them on their chain-link fences to lessen the ugliness of that type of fence. You can see the chain link fence in the background of those two pictures.
Passionflowers have a unique structure, and once you’ve seen one, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever forget it. You’ll be able to identify that “weird vine with a beautiful flower” that’s growing on your neighbor’s fence.
The passion fruit is quite large for a vine, and the fruit of Passiflora edulis is actually called passionfruit and used for food and juice in many parts of the world. I can attest to the flavor of the passionfruit since I have enjoyed many a passionfruit margarita at Islands burger restaurant in San Diego’s Mission Valley. Hmmm, maybe it’s the alcohol that’s flavorful?
Pictures taken by Russel Ray using a Canon 550D and post-processing using Corel PaintShop Pro X4.