Category Archives: Picture of the Moment

And then there were three

Picture of the Moment

Sixteen days ago, I got up with the sun (5:30 a.m.) and pulled a ton of weeds along the fence between my property and the open space preserve. I left a huge pile of weeds, figuring I would haul them to the trash later. I took a shower and a nap.

When I went out to the gardens to get my daily snapshots of flowers, I leaned in close near a hanging basket and something hit me in the head and flew away. I didn’t see what it was, but I did see this in the hanging basket:

mourning dove eggs

That was not there six hours earlier. Mommy, presumably with help from daddy, found my pile of weeds, built a nest a few feet away, and deposited two eggs in only four or five hours. Fortunately, after me disturbing mommy (presumably), she came back to take care of those eggs:

momma mourning dove on nest

Research indicates that it takes about 14 days for mourning dove eggs to hatch and another 15 days for the little ones to leave the nest and go exploring the world.

I got a picture of a little bird on Day 13.

Mourning dove

And on Day 14, today!, I got a picture of two little birds!

Mourning doves

And then there were three. I’m so happy! Now our goal is to help mommy protect these two little ones for the next couple of weeks so they can fly away, fly away.

Hoping I can’t go into one of my gardens for about a month

Picture of the Moment

I got up at 5:30 this morning to go pull weeds and clear dead brush along the fence. Nothing unusual about that.

I just went out to take pictures of the cactus flowers that are blooming. I leaned in close with my 90mm macro lens and suddenly something hit me in the head and went flying away.

The last time I was hit in the head by something flying was 1968 under the Congress Avenue bridge in Austin. That time was a flying bat (if you’ve never seen the bats take to the skies at dusk at the Congress Avenue bridge, go!).

This time, it was a momma mourning dove. Interestingly, she and her nest were not there at 6:00 this morning. In a mere six hours she (and daddy?) built a nest out of brush laying in a pile nearby, and she laid two eggs in it.

mourning dove eggs

I’m so happy because the last time I had baby birds was annually from 1968-1973 in my wise old grandmother’s yard. I had built a bird house using a Boy Scout handbook and attached it high in our ash tree. A family of screech owls moved in. They are known to use the same nesting site annually, and they did.

Research indicates that it takes 14 days for mourning dove eggs to hatch and another 15 days for the little ones to take off on their own.

Fortunately, I have most of the weeds pulled in this area, and the rest can wait for a month. The presence of momma and, hopefully, two little ones means that any future pictures from my retaining wall gardens will have to be taken through the window in my home office using my 600mm lens. Can’t wait to see how those turn out.

It takes me 4 minutes to walk from the sunny retaining wall gardens back to the home office. By the time I got back inside and looked out the window, momma bird was back on the nest.

momma mourning dove on nest

Even with experience, it pays to explore new things

Picture of the Moment

I got started in photography in sixth grade (1966) when the principal went around to all the home rooms asking for volunteers. When she said that volunteers got free access to all school events, including football, basketball, baseball, and tennis, well, I was an easy sell.

The school had Nikon equipment. By the time I got ready to buy my own equipment, Paul Simon had ruined Nikon with his top hit “Kodachrome.” Ever since then, all other things being equal, Nikon always has been more expensive than Canon. Thusly, I have been using Canon equipment since then, with my first being the incomparable Canon A1.

My current crop of cameras comprise three Canon Rebel EOS cameras:
XSi, T2i, and 760D (T6s in the U.S.). However, with my 54 years of photography experience, I rarely explore all the new stuff being included in cameras, specialty modes like Portrait, Close-up/Flowers, Landscape. Courtesy of a Facebook friend and her new Canon T6i camera, today I explored the Close-up/Flowers mode. Wow. Saved a lot of time.

Here’s one of my favorites today since today is its first day in bloom. It was labeled “Aloe ‘Grassy Lassie’ ” but I’m fairly certain it’s not an aloe. Nonetheless, the flowers are tiny but beautiful.

Unknown plant

Picture of the Moment—Cactus Cats

Picture of the Moment

There is a feral colony of cats living in San Diego’s Balboa Park in one of the cactus gardens.

I call them the “Cactus Cats.”

Here are five of them keeping watch over the cactus:

Cactus Cats of Balboa Park

Climate change?

Picture of the Moment

People usually don’t associate rain and snow with San Diego. Quite true with the city of San Diego. The county, however, is another story. There are mountains in east San Diego County that top out at 6,271 feet elevation. That’s high enough to get plenty of rain and snow.

Where I live at 682′ elevation, Mother & Father Nature have provided me with 70.3 inches of rain in 2019, of which 23.3 inches has arrived since November 19.

Rain at this time of the year usually means snow just 20 miles east of me.

In the 26½ years I have been in San Diego, I never fail to go visit the snowy mountains once a year.

This year has been completely different because we had significant snow in the mountains in February, November, and December, so I have been three times.

New Year’s Eve is supposed to bring another huge storm, so I might start off 2020 by heading to the snowy mountains.

Climate change?

I like snow as long as it’s about 20 miles away from me, I can go visit it, and I can come back to a warm home with a warm cat on my lap.

Meanwhile, here are some of my favorite snow pictures from 2019.

Mount Laguna National Recreation AreaMount Laguna National Recreation Area

Thin ice
Thin ice

Pacific Crest Trail, Mount Laguna
Pacific Crest Trail, Mount Laguna, California

Snow people in the Cuyamaca Mountains
Snow people in the Cuyamaca Mountains

City slickers in the snow at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
City slickers enjoying the country snow at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, California

Snowy Lake CuyamacaSnowy Lake Cuyamaca in San Diego County

City slickers clogging the roadway in Cuyamaca Mountains
Traffic in the snow Cuyamaca Mountains

Poor cacti
Cacti in the snow in Pine Valley, California

My poor car
2017 Toyota Corolla in the snow

Mommy told him to put on his coat
Dog in the snow

My poor feet
My poor feet

How to get a sunrise picture

There are many ways to get a picture of a sunrise:

      1. Get up with the sunrise and take a picture.
      2. Take a picture of a sunset and say it was a sunrise.
      3. Do a Google Image search on “sunrise” and download one.
      4. Buy a sunrise picture from a stock image service.
      5. Borrow a sunrise picture from someone else.

Here’s today’s version of #1 from 682′ high in the East San Diego County boondocks.

Sunrise in the East San Diego County mountains on 12/12/2019

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

Exploring pays off!

Picture of the Moment

On the first Sunday of each month, I drive 226 miles round-trip up to Long Beach to attend the monthly meeting of the Long Beach Cactus Club. I guess you could say I’m dedicated to this cactus thing.

I have an intermediate stop at the La Costa Park & Ride to pick up Annie Morgan, Program Chair (and more!) of the Palomar Cactus & Succulent Society in Escondido, California.

Usually I get there a couple of minutes later than my ETA because traffic conditions just are not consistent in large metroplexes. This past Sunday, though, I got there 30 minutes early, and it’s only a 40-minute drive. I did not speed. Believe me.

Whenever I get somewhere early, I make it a point to walk around and explore, never knowing what I might find. This past Sunday I found this pretty little flower:

Unknown flower

Exploring paid off! That picture will make a nice puzzle or something, especially if I can find out the name of the plant.

I have no idea what the plant is. It was bare of leaves but with many dozens of half-inch pink flowers, looking very beautiful in the dry heat where I found it.

Map from home to Long Beach

X marks the spot