Category Archives: Birds

The Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Garden—A Review

The Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Garden
A Review

Hippos at the Los Angeles ZooI became a fan of zoos after my first visit to the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, in summer 1966. If I had never seen a giraffe, or an elephant, or a rhinoceros, or a hippopotamus…. I never would have taken such an interest in their plight in the world.

Chimpanzees at the Los Angeles ZooA couple of years later, a real live monkey showed up in our yard. My wise old grandmother told me to give it a banana. I though that was only in cartoons. The darn thing ate it. And as with just about any animal, if you feed it, it’s yours.

That monkey stayed in the trees in our back yard for several months. I named it Cheetah.

Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical GardenThen, one day, people showed up to take Cheetah. They were people from the San Antonio Zoo. A monkey was considered an exotic pet, and exotic pets were not allowed in Kingsville, Texas. We had to let them capture Cheetah and take him away.

When San Antonio hosted Hemisfair in 1968, I convinced my wise old grandmother to take me to San Antonio. Sure I wanted to go to Hemisfair, but more importantly to this little boy, I wanted to go to the San Antonio Zoo to see Cheetah.

Serval at the Los Angeles ZooI don’t know whether or not Cheetah recognized me, but to this day I believe he did. All one has to do is watch YouTube videos about animals recognizing those who rescued them, fed them, and cared for them, even after being separated from them for weeks, months, and, in one case, 11 years. Yeah, our animals that we care for know who we are.

Los Angeles ZooYesterday, Jim and I went to the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Garden. I had never been to the Los Angeles Zoo, but since I have been going to the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park on a regular basis for 26½ years, I already knew that the Los Angeles Zoo didn’t have anything that I had not already seen. Thus, my main interest was in the Botanical Garden aspect of the zoo with the possible intent of including a section in my forthcoming book, SSS: Southwest Succulent Staycation.

Ostrich at the Los Angeles ZooThe Los Angeles Zoo opened in 1966, so it’s about fifty years younger than the San Diego Zoo. However, at 133 acres, it is 33 acres larger. However, there are only about 1,400 animals residing at the Los Angeles Zoo. After walking the whole zoo yesterday, I would guess that about 70 acres is simply unused land. Jim and I always are tired after a trip to the San Diego Zoo. We didn’t experience that after walking the Los Angeles Zoo.

Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical GardenI was disappointed in the zoo but I might be unreasonably comparing it to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park. The L.A. Zoo was quite busy yesterday. However, it needs a serious cleaning, including a parking lot renovation. The asphalt probably is the original asphalt from when the zoo opened in 1966. The whole place was overgrown with weeds. Deciduous trees had dropped all their leaves; unfortunately, all over the exhibits, making a mess of them, making a mess of any horticultural exhibits beneath the trees, making a mess of the various play areas for children.

Notwithstanding all the problems, there were several things that made the visit worthwhile:

      1. I now have been to the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Garden.
      2. The birds show was excellent because it featured birds that you won’t be seeing in your back yard: two African vultures (huge birds!) and a California Condor (another huge bird!)
      3. Although many of the botanical gardens were weedy and covered with leaves, I did get enough good pictures for my book.
      4. The giraffe feeding line was very long, and having fed the giraffes at the San Diego Zoo, I can tell you that feeding giraffes is quite an experience. This final picture shows a little girl feeding a giraffe. I believe this little girl will grow up with an appreciation of wildlife—my appreciation of wildlife started by feeding a monkey. Perhaps this little girl will get a college degree in wildlife conservation, maybe even work in a zoo providing this type of experience to the next generation.

Feeding a giraffe at the Los Angeles Zoo

All pictures in this post were taken by me
at the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Garden
on December 29, 2019.

A little late for Halloween

Picture of the Moment

I am having a great time creating calendars for sale. I have six at my Etsy shop so far: Succulents, Spirals, Roses, Orchids, Cats and Dogs. My seventh calendar will feature birds. All priced at $20 with free USPS first class shipping in the United States. Not yet shipping internationally.

One thing that I am trying to do with my calendars is match colors to the months. For example, I use white flowers, white cats, and white dogs for December. For October, I’m using orange for Halloween. For my birds calendar, this little one obviously is going to be my October bird. Props if you know its name. No, it’s not Freddy or Chucky.

Muscovy duck

Out & About—Dana Point, California

Out & About       Halls of History

On Friday I drove 77 miles to Dana Point, California, to take a 3-hour ride on the tall ship Spirit of Dana Point. The occasion was the opening of the 35th Annual Tall Ships & Ocean Festival hosted by Ocean Institute.

Since these events are quite popular in Southern California, I left at 4:00 a.m. to get there earlier than everyone else so that I could get good parking. I parked and walked around the harbor watching the sun rise.

9/6/2019 sunrise in Dana Point harbor, California

In the 1830s and 1840s, the natural harbor was a popular port for ships bringing supplies to the Mission San Juan Capistrano located nearby.  The earliest known visit to the harbor was in 1818. Argentine sailor Hippolyte de Bouchard anchored in the harbor while conducting a raid on the mission.

Dana Point was incorporated as a city on January 1, 1989, and had a population of 33,351 in the 2010 census. The city was named after the headland of Dana Point, which was named after Richard Henry Dana Jr., author of Two Years Before the Mast, published in 1840, who had docked his ship, Pilgrim, in the harbor in 1835.

Dana Point headland

Two Years Before the Mast is an account of the Pilgrim’s 1834-35 voyage between Boston and California. In it, Dana described the area as the only romantic spot on the coast.

Pilgrim was a sailing brig 86½ feet long and weighing 180 tons. It had been built in Boston in 1825 and went down in a fire at sea in 1856. There is a full-size replica at the Ocean Institute in the harbor at Dana Point.

Full size replica of Pilgrim, Ocean Institute, Dana Point, California

Pilgrim used to sail but it is in need of major repairs. Right now the money isn’t available to make those repairs, so it appears to be permanently docked at this time.

The harbor is quite beautiful and a joy to walk around watching people, boats, wildlife, sunrises, and sunsets.

Dana Point, California, harbor

Dana Point Harbor, California

Dana Point Harbor, California

Dana Point Harbor, California

Pelican at Dana Point, California

Person at Dana Point, California

Sunset at Dana Point, California

Coming up next: More about the Ocean Institute.

Double R Creations & Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

Out & About—Hawk Watch in Ramona, California

Out & About The World

I went to Hawk Watch on 1/5/2019 in Ramona CA, courtesy of the Wildlife Research Institute.

In my 63 years 9 months and 26 days on Earth, it ranks as one of the Top 10 most interesting things I have ever done. Got to see gyrfalcon, pygmy falcon, peregrine falcon, American kestrel, ferruginous hawk, and red-tailed hawk.

I got bopped on the head by the wings of a diving peregrine falcon. Afterwards, we had a field trip where I got to see my first bald eagle nest in the wild and a juvenile bald eagle in the wild.

I took 458 pictures, so it will take me a little while to catalog all of them. Here are two pictures of the gyrfalcon, the largest of the falcons and, as far as I’m concerned, the most beautiful. It’s from the Arctic.

Gyrfalcon at Hawk Watch in Ramona CA on 1/5/19

Gyrfalcon at Hawk Watch in Ramona CA on 1/5/19

Hawk Watch occurs every weekend in January and February, and next Saturday, 1/12/2019, all those birds will be back, accompanied by some owls, including a Great Horned Owl. I guess you know where I will be next Saturday.

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

Gull taking home some food

You can take some home

My wise old grandmother

Whenever my wise old grandmother (MWOG) took me out to eat, inevitably I could not eat everything that the restaurant served me. MWOG often told me, “Just because the restaurant served it to you doesn’t mean you have to eat it all now. You can take some home.”

In her afterlife, I believe she has been counseling some fauna here on Earth:

Squirrel taking home some food

Gull taking home some food

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

My Own Little World—Construction of the Wildlife Corner pond

I live in my own little world

I put 12 hours of effort on Friday into creating a pond where my little tired and thirsty honeybees will be happy.

Following are three pictures documenting construction.

All I have to do now is add some little sandy beaches so the honeybees can live the good life and add some plants to provide shelter and shade.

Pond in Wildlife Corner

Pond in Wildlife Corner

Pond in Wildlife Corner

During the 12 hours that I spent building the Wildlife Corner Pond, lots of wildlife came by to see what I was doing. A couple of rabbits watched me from a small hill in the open space preserve on the other side of the chain link fence. Four ground squirrels watched me from an area that I call “Ground Squirrel Hill,” also on the other side of the chain link fence. And seven yellow birds—I have no idea what kind of birds they are but I have never seen them before—sat on the wood fence and in the trees above the fence watching me. I suspect the new water source in Wildlife Corner will draw even more wildlife, especially birds, than I am accustomed to seeing each day.

Two yellow birds watching construction

Rabbit and squirrelsAfter construction was completed and the pond was full of water—and I was inside—lots of birds stopped by. Several curve-billed thrashers, lots of sparrows, a western scrub jay, and many honeybees. The fact that some honeybees already have discovered this new water source gives me encouragement that I’ll be able to coax the honeybees from the front pond to the new Wildlife Corner pond. I think the rabbits and ground squirrels already had gone to bed for the evening so I look forward to seeing how they react when I put out food for them in about seven hours.

All pictures were taken with my smarty pants phone since I’m not taking $2,000 worth of camera equipment out into a construction zone full of dirt and water.

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