Tag Archives: san diego zoo

Make sure all is well before taking possession

Did you know?

Many of the birds at the San Diego Zoo have nests with eggs in them.

The flamingos are the most noticeable but if one looks closely one can see a pair of southern screamers (Chauna torquata), also known as crested screamers, taking care of three eggs in their nest in Flamingo Lagoon.

Southern Screamer pair and three eggs at the San Diego Zoo

Those two were having a changing of the guard. It’s virtually impossible to distinguish mama screamer from daddy screamer, so I have no idea whether mama was taking over or whether daddy was taking over. You can see the one taking over was checking out the eggs just to make sure that they were okay before taking possession of them.

Southern Screamer and three eggs at the San Diego Zoo

According to Wikipedia,

The southern screamer establishes monogamous relationships that last its lifetime, estimated to be 15 years. Courtship involves loud calling by both sexes, which can be heard up to two miles away. For the nest, the couple makes a big platform of reeds, straws, and other aquatic plants in an inaccessible place near water. The female lays between two and seven white eggs. The couple share incubation, which takes 43 to 46 days. Chicks leave the nest as soon as they hatch, but the parents care for them for several weeks. The fledging period takes 8 to 14 weeks.

Southern Screamers live in southeastern Peru, northern Bolivia, Paraguay, southern Brazil, Uruguay, and northern Argentina. And, of course, the San Diego Zoo.

The following picture shows what the little ones will look like, although this little one from 2010 was giving me a little attitude:

Southern Screamer chick at the San Diego Zoo

Remember, if you get to San Diego, give me a call. I often have free tickets to the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. I also have been known to play docent for a day or two at no charge!

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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Complements the swamp monkeys in the White House

Picture of the Moment

It’s spring time at the San Diego Zoo,

which means little ones are everywhere.

Here’s an Allen’s Swamp Monkey mama

with her little one.

Complements the swamp monkeys in the White House……..

Allen's swamp monkey mama & her baby

Remember, if you get to San Diego, give me a call. I often have free tickets to the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. I also have been known to play docent for a day or two at no charge!

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Silly bird

San Diego Zoo logo

Considering that I got started in photography in 1966, one might think that I would know everything there is to know about photograph. As someone more famous than me said several times: “Wrong, bison breath!”

Computers have turned the world of photography upside down, so when digital photography came along, some old dogs had to learn new tricks.

One of those new tricks is the burst mode. My Canon 760D is capable of taking 5 pictures per second, and that’s on the low end of digital cameras. I’ve read reviews of cameras taking 60 pictures per second, which is on the order of quality video without actually being video.

I have been playing around with the burst mode on my camera using my new Tamron 150-600mm lens since it allows me to get so much closer to wildlife.

Today, at the San Diego Zoo, the Great White Pelicans were preening themselves. Watching that is kind of like watching cats groom themselves. I could sit there all day long and just watch.

I got quite a few funny pictures of these pelicans preening. This is one of the best:

Great White Pelican preening at the San Diego Zoo

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

…and we have #4

Picture of the Moment

When I was young and living in Kingsville TX, if I wanted to see dragonflies all I had to do was set out a bucket of water.

Multiple dragonflies within minutes.

Kind of like setting out a box if you want to see a cat.

In the 24 years I have been in San Diego, I have seen four dragonflies, with the fourth coming two days ago at a pond at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Since I was testing a Tamron 150-600 mm lens, my rental lens, I was able to get several shots of this beauty. Of the other three dragonflies, I only have a picture of one, and it’s not a great picture because you just can’t get close to these things without them taking off.

Here are three of the best from the Safari Park:

Orange dragonfly at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Orange dragonfly at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Orange dragonfly at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Out & About—Free Zoo passes and your own personal docent

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

San Diego is a destination for Christmas for those who want to get away from the snow. However, we do have snow in San Diego county, but you have to travel about 60 miles from the airport to play in it.Ice in the snow (!)

If you are traveling to San Diego by plane, sit on the left side. Best views of downtown as you’re landing.

If you are coming by train from Los Angeles, sit on the right side. Best views of the beaches, piers, and ocean.

Giant panda at the San Diego ZooOnce you get to San Diego, if you are looking for things to do, I can highly recommend the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park. The Zoo is just a couple of miles from the airport and the train station while the Wild Animal Park is about 45 miles northeast.

I have an annual Keeper’s Club membership to the Zoological Society so I get four free passes each year. The four passes on my desk right now expire June 30, 2017. I normally give them away on Christmas Day when Jim and I go to the Zoo or Wild Animal Park, a Christmas tradition for us.

If you are coming to San Diego and would like a free pass, let me know. And if you want your own personal docent for the day, for Zoo, Wild Animal Park, or general tourist stuff, I have been known to do that, too. Give me 12 hours notice and I’m yours.

USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) from the sky

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

My, but you’re big

San Diego Zoo logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I usually go to the San Diego Zoo first thing in the morning; it opens at 9:00. I have three reasons for that preference: First, there are not as many morning people as there are afternoon people, so it’s less crowded. Second, It’s a time that overlaps between the day and night animals; the day animals are waking up and the night animals are finding a place to sleep. Third, it’s feeding time for many of the day animals and it’s always fun to watch them eat.

During the summer the Zoo stays open until 9:00 p.m., and that allows one to get pictures of fauna that normally are hiding during the height of daylight.

Such as this Steller’s Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus):

Steller's Eea Eagle

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There are eight living species of sea eagles, of which the Bald Eagle is one. Steller’s is the largest of the sea eagles, weighing up to almost 21 pounds.

Steller's Sea Eagle

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Steller’s Sea Eagles are native to the northeastern coast of Asia and feed mostly on fish and water birds. They have a wingspan of as much as 8’2″. For comparison, that maximum wingspan is two feet wider than I am tall. Mama mia!

Steller's Sea Eagle

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The IUCN classifies the Steller’s Sea Eagle as vulnerable due to loss of habitat, industrial pollution, and overfishing by man. They are classified as a National Treasure in Japan. The current population is estimated at 5,000 and decreasing.

Steller's Sea Eagle

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Recent flooding of the Russian rivers resulted in almost complete nesting failure for Steller’s Sea Eagles because the parents’ ability to capture fish for their nestlings was compromised.

Steller's Sea Eagle

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The cotton ball tree

Did you know?

Although San Diego is defined as a desert in terms of annual rainfall, it also has a Mediterranean climate, so if you can meet the water needs of virtually any plant, it can grow here in San Diego. There even are redwood groves at the San Diego Zoo (coming out of the polar bear exhibit) and at Safari Park (going up to Condor Ridge).

One of the more unusual trees that grows here is what I call the “cotton ball tree.” Looks like this:

img_5749 floss silk tree stamp

img_5748 floss silk tree stamp

flower (21) floss silk tree flower stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The top two pictures were taken at the San Diego Zoo. The tree is so tall that I had missed it until a few years ago when it was dropping flowers and cotton balls. I asked at the Information Booth what the name of the “cotton ball tree” was. They knew exactly which tree I was talking about.

It’s a silk floss tree (Ceiba speciosa).

The lower part of the trunk often is swollen, while young tree trunks and the upper trunk and branches of older trees are covered with thorns. Roses don’t have anything on this tree!

file000023991 silk floss tree stamp

_MG_9162 silk floss tree thorns framed

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The silk floss tree is a deciduous tree native to the tropical and subtropical forests of South America, mainly in Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, northeast Argentina, and southern Brazil.

It is resistant to drought and moderate cold, and grows quite fast when water is abundant. It can get up to 82 feet tall. In an unusual twist for trees, the trunk is green, which means that it is capable of photosynthesis when leaves are absent. In older trees, the lower part of the trunk usually turns to gray. The swollen trunk stores water, as do the thorns.

The fruit is a ligneous ovoid pod, which sounds like something out of a Stephen King novel. They look like this:

_MG_8748 framed

IMG_0917 framed

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Once the pods ripen, they burst open to reveal a mass of cotton balls surrounding seeds the size and color of black beans.

img_3021 floss silk tree stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The cotton is used as stuffing (think pillows) and in packaging, and to make canoes, paper, and ropes. The seeds provide both edible and industrial vegetable oil.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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