The closest Costco is about a half mile from my house, and it’s normally extremely easy to get to. Not today:
That’s a eucalyptus tree, and not a particularly big one, but it had fallen and was blocking 3½ lanes of the highway frontage road. The police had the southbound lanes completely closed, but our northbound lanes were still open albeit scrunching two lanes down into ½ lane on the shoulder.
Eucalyptus trees are not native to San Diego. They were brought from Australia back ca. 1850 to use for railroad ties. Unfortunately, the wood is very brittle and did not make good ties. However, the tree loved San Diego’s climate and by driving around the County you’d never think that they were not native here. They are everywhere!
They grow rather tall but have somewhat shallow root systems. Couple that with the brittle wood, and the poor trees sometimes fall over or break apart during our six-week rainy season or during the high Santa Ana wind season.
We had the wettest April I can remember in the 18 years I’ve lived here, and I suspect the ground around that eucalyptus simply couldn’t hold that massive tree with the shallow root system anymore, and away she goes!
I love eucalyptus trees but they really don’t belong on small residential properties or along freeways. Here’s one of my favorite pictures of a giant in Balboa Park:
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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.