Category Archives: Birds

Out & About—Ramona Grasslands Preserve, Ramona CA

Out & About

Escrow has closed and the move has started. We shall be completely in our new home on August 1, 2017. Meanwhile….

I’m still cataloging pictures on my fine fine fine new super computer, and probably will be for many more months, perhaps even years. That’s how many pictures I have. In an effort to get caught up on cataloging my newer pictures, here is a collection of pictures from the Ramona Grasslands.

Baby and, presumably, mama ground squirrel
Mama and baby squirrel, Ramona Grasslands

Hippity-hopping Peter Cottontail
Hippity-hopping Peter Cottontail, Ramona Grasslands

Mourning Dove
I know many people consider mourning doves
to be up there with pigeons as pest birds but I like both.
Mourning dove, Ramona Grasslands

Unknown flower buds
Unknown flower buds, Ramona Grasslands

Magnificent home overlooking the grasslands
Magnificent home overlooking the Ramona Grasslands

Patch of unknown purple flowers
Patch of unknown purple flowers, Ramona Grasslands

Unknown bird
Unknown bird, Ramona Grasslands

Unknown flower
Unknown flower, Ramona Grasslands

Immature (probably Anna’s) hummingbird
Immature hummingbird, Ramona Grasslands

Public art
Public art, Ramona Grasslands

More unknown, but beautiful, flowers
Unknown purple flowers, Ramona Grasslands

Airplane taking off from nearby Ramona airport
Airplane taking off from Ramona airport near Ramona Grasslands

Relaxing tree and pond
Relaxing pond and tree, Ramona Grasslands

Patch of thistle
Such a beautiful flower, but like roses,
oh can those thorns cause pain!
Patch of thistle, Ramona Grasslands

Ramona Grasslands Preserve, Ramona CA
Rramona Grasslands Preserve, Ramona CA

Ground squirrel sentry
Ground squire sentry, Ramona Grasslands

Brahma
One of the best ways to maintain the health of an ecosystem
is to let Mother & Father Nature use it as they see fit.
The Brahma was the mascot of my high school,
Henrietta M. King High in Kingsville, Texas,
so I was pleasantly surprised to find a herd of Brahma
grazing and resting on the Ramona Grasslands Preserve.
Brahma, Ramona Grasslands Preserve, Ramona CA

Abandoned cattle chute
Abandoned cattle chute, Ramona Grasslands Preserve, Ramona CA

Unknown raptor
Unknown raptor, Ramona Grasslands

A different unknown raptor
Unknown raptor, Ramona Grasslands

Bird unable to read
No parking, Ramona Grasslands

Ramona Grasslands Preserve, Ramona CA
Rramona Grasslands Preserve, Ramona CA

Ramona Grasslands Preserve, Ramona CA
Rramona Grasslands Preserve, Ramona CA

The Ramona Grasslands Preserve consists of 3,521 acres in the Santa Maria Valley and includes a significant portion of the remaining undeveloped are of the Santa Maria Creek watershed. The watershed supports a mosaic of habitat types, including native and non-native grasslands, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, oak woodlands, Santa Maria Creek, its adjacent riparian area, and a diversity of unique vernal pools, vernal swales, and alkali playas.

Many rare animals make their homes in the grasslands, including Stephens’ kangaroo rat (oh how I want to get a picture of one of them!), fairy shrimp, purple stipa, blue-eyed grass, and woolly blue curls. There is a huge concentration of raptors in the area, no doubt because of all the small critters available for a raptor family reunion picnic.

There is a four-mile loop trail which is where all my pictures were taken, and I can highly recommend taking a leisurely stroll on the loop. Invariably, you’ll meet other walkers, bikers, and joggers.

Part of the mission for the Preserve is to provide passive recreation opportunities within the Preserve that further the development of the Coast to Crest Trail.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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Picture of the Moment—Finest and most bestest ever!

Picture of the Moment

My wise old grandmother had lots of hummingbird feeders throughout the trees in her yard, and ever since I got my hands on an SLR camera in 1966, I have been trying to get a halfway decent picture of a hummingbird in flight.

Yesterday I took my new Tamron 150-600mm lens to Balboa Park for a walk around the many gardens. I knew where the hummingbirds hung out so I was hoping to get a chance to try out the lens on those fast flyers.

I switched my camera settings to AI Servo focusing for to better track fast-moving objects, set it to use the 19-point autofocus system, and set it to take up to five pictures per second, and went to work.

Following is one of the pictures I came home with.  I rank it right up there at #1, bestest and mostest fine fine fine Russel Ray hummingbird photo ever.

Hummingbird in flight

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Cold & wet—not my kind of weather

Out & About

I spent a couple of hours in La Jolla yesterday taking pictures and videos of the splashing waves of the King Tide as well as wildlife that was enjoying the cold, wet weather, something that I was not exactly doing myself.

I know that big waves can be destructive but they sure are fun to watch.

Spring tide in La Jolla CA 1/11/17

One of the better photos of the crashing waves because it also shows the harbor seals and, at the lower right, that little pup seemingly wondering if it’s safe to go in.

Spring tide in La Jolla CA 1/11/17

The stairs down to the beach, except that when the tide is this high, there is no beach.

Spring tide in La Jolla CA 1/11/17

There were many birds and seals hoping to get their 15 minutes of fame in a WordPress blog.

Harbor seal pups at Children's Pool in La Jolla CA

Bird at the Cove in La Jolla CA

About six months ago I bought a new Canon Rebel 760D because it has a tilt/swivel screen which makes it easier to take pictures and videos from weird positions, and auto focusing for videos. I haven’t really learned to use the auto focusing yet. Either that or it just plain is abysmal. That’s one of the reasons why I was out taking videos yesterday, to find out exactly what I have and how to use it. Here is a 55-second video of the crashing waves at the Children’s Pool in La Jolla:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Snippets (12-28-16)—You’re a little different….

Snippets

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

snip-pet: a small piece of something
Snippets: mini blog posts

SNIPPET 1

When two of my hard drives crashed concurrently in early October, my main concern was retrieving over a million photographs and videos. Fortunately, I got them all back, albeit at a cost of a couple of grand.

Now I’m in the process of cataloging all of them, deleting duplicates, and then, instead of backing up to an external hard drive, which is what I was doing when both drives crashed, I’m going to do backups to the cloud where there are multiple redundancies to prevent crashes and losses.

I have not chosen a cloud storage service so I’m open to suggestions.

SNIPPET 2

I am enjoying going through all the uncatalogued pictures and finding some gems, such as the following two. Feel free to provide your own caption.

A seal praying that Trump doesn’t destroy the worldSeal praying that Trump doesn't destroy the world

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When one of the gang realizes you’re a little different
and still comes over to say hello.Seals & pelicanPictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET 3

Joey Thaidigsman, freshman computer science major at the University of California at BerkeleyJoey Thaidigsman, the IT Director of Russel Ray (which comprises Photographic Art, Russel Ray Photos, and House Key News) is a freshman Computer Science major at the University of California at Berkeley. I’m proud to tell you that he earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average for his first semester. He wants to go into artificial intelligence. Hmmm. Maybe he IS artificial intelligence. I’ll keep an eye on him….

SNIPPET 4

Since Trump is intent on blowing up the world, Jim and I figured we would go out in style, so Christmas Eve afternoon we traded in our 2015 Honda Civic EX-L, which we bought on February 6, 2016, for a 2017 Honda Civic EX. We switched from a white exterior with beige leather interior to a “modern steel metallic” exterior (very dark gray, basically) with a black interior. The white/beige showed too much dust and dirt all the time, so we’re going to try the darker colors for a couple of years.

I think it’s the second most fun car Jim and I have owned, behind the 1998 Pontiac Trans Am. The other cars were a 1989 Saleen Ford Mustang GT, 1991 Honda Civic, 1998 Toyota Avalon, 2000 Honda Accord, 2002 Nissan Maxima, 2003 Toyota Camry, 2005 Nissan Altima, and a 2015 Toyota Corolla (which we still have).

It has two USB ports for the stereo system, great cruise control, dual-zone heating and cooling (convenient since, in 22½ years, Jim and I have never agreed on comfort temperature), and a moon roof for those starry starry nights.

2017 Honda Civic EX

2017 Honda Civic EX

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET 5

Hope everyone is having a great holiday season! Best wishes for health, happiness, peace, and prosperity in 2017 and beyond!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift for a special occasion?
Visit
Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Our birds deserve better

I livew in my own little world

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When I was but a juvenile delinquent of the age of 8 living in Brigham City, Utah, I skipped second grade one day and went with a friend to see Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds.” I already had developed a fascination with birds and couldn’t understand why my mom and (step)dad wouldn’t let me go see the movie. This, of course, was prior to films being rated, so it was up to parents to decide what their children could watch. Even though I still was young, impressionable, and brainwashable, the movie did not dampen my love of birds.

I am fortunate to live in San Diego because of the San Diego Zoo and the Zoo’s Safari Park. I have seen birds that I never would have had the opportunity to see if I relied on seeing them in the wild, birds like flamingos, shoebills, and various species of eagles, owls, condors, and vultures.

Necking flamingos at the San Diego ZooNecking flamingos at San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Shoebill at the San Diego Zoo's Safari ParkShoebill at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Milky Eagle Owl

Milky eagle owl at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I also am fortunate to live in a coastal area like San Diego because there are over 500 species of birds that can be seen here on a regular basis, some of those stopping by while migrating on the Pacific Flyway.

Possibly my five favorite birds that can be seen on a daily basis roaming around the outdoors are pelicans, great egrets, snowy egrets, great blue herons, and black-crowned night herons.

Snowy egretsSnowy egrets at play at Santee Lakes

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pelicans at La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, California, north of San Diego.Brown pelicans enjoying the view in La Jolla

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Great Blue Heron with mealGreat blue heron with morning meal at Mission Bay Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

black-crowned-night-heron-4-one-leg

One-legged black-crowned night heron hanging out at SeaWorld where food is plentiful.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When I first saw that black-crowned night heron I thought it was just standing on one leg, but herons don’t typically do that; they are not flamingos. That’s when I noticed that it really did only have one leg. Sadly, birds with just one foot or one leg are common here in San Diego because of all the fishing. They get a foot or leg tangled up in the fishing line which cuts off the circulation and eventually the bird loses that foot or leg. Here is a brown pelican with a missing foot probably due to fishing line entanglement:

Pelican with one foot

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you’re a fisherperson, please dispose of your fishing line properly. All docks have disposal bins with lids on them so that our precious wildlife can’t get tangled up.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Fly your own bird of prey!

Out & About

There’s no doubt that having nice weather for about 335 days a year provides opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and all that Mother and Father Nature have to offer. In fact, even for those other  30 days each year, the weather can be so interesting that one is encouraged to go out then!

With so many days of nice weather, entrepreneurs have created companies with many interesting things to do that don’t involve sitting at a desk behind a computer or staring at a smart phone screen. One interesting thing to do that I discovered recently is flying your own bird of prey.

Sky Falconry

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I discovered a group of people preparing to fly their own birds of prey recently, near the Torrey Pines Glider Port, all listening intently to the instructions on how to do this properly so that the raptors don’t bite your nose off or grab hold of your arm and take you for a sky ride….

Sky FalconryPictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bucket List.

If you’re looking for something unique to do, contact Sky Falconry and book a Basic Falconry Lesson, a Hawk Walk, or a Photo Hawk Walk. These events are not inexpensive but I bet they provide once-in-a-lifetime memories.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift for a Christmas or other special occasion?

Use code YLNNRX for a $40 discount on
Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Got its picture anyways!

Picture of the Moment

I don’t know what species of bird this is but it sure is purty.

It was zipping here and there all the while that I was doing a home inspection.

If I went outside to take its picture, it would fly into the bushes.

I got this picture from inside through a screen window with a 300mm lens.

Pretty yellow bird

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray PhotosNeed a unique gift for Christmas?

Use code YLNNRX for a $40 discount on
Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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