Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I have a Secret!

Sometimes I'm amazed at my own flexibility! As I pen (what century is this guy living in?) these lines I can't get over the fact that, in less than twenty-four hours, I switched my focus from Egrets to Elephant Seals. Where only yesterday I went gaga over feathers, today I went ape over whiskers.
This afternoon I accompanied charming and sharp Jessica, the Sausalito Marin Scope editor, to the Marine Mammal Center in Fort Cronkhite, Sausalito. We had the rare opportunity of a special tour and I went bananas (from gaga to ape to bananas) snapping close-ups of Elephant- and Harbor-Seal pups.
The mission of the Marine Mammal Center is that of a hospital where animals in distress are treated. A trip to the Center will be well worth your effort.
For me the toughest part of the tour was fitting on, and removing, a pair of rubber boots, an MMC requirement!
I wonder what secret the pup on the left was sharing with the pup on the right.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Snowy Egret

There are photographers that take pictures of nothing but Egrets and Herons. I'm not surprised; it is tempting. These birds are so beautiful and graceful. I photographed the Snowy Egret at Rush Creek a couple of days ago. And I couldn't help wonder whether she/he knows about the rookery in Santa Rosa. I hope you share my love for these birds.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Today I'm trying to make up for short-changing Black-crowned Night-Herons in favor of Egrets. There are lots of B-c N-Hs at the Rookery, but they are harder to photograph than Egrets. Their shorter wing-span allows them to get deeper into the branches and shade, and therefore harder to see. My picture shows a gal/guy, bearing a branch intended for a nest, just before disappearing into a tree.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Read All About It! Swans Turn Into Gopher!

Word was that there were a couple of Swans nesting at Rush Creek. I wasted no time to rush there. No Swans. But curiosity made a Pocket Gopher stick its head out of its hole to see what was going on. No time for brushing its  teeth! Retched humor! Sorry.
Pocket Gophers spend most of their time in extensive underground burrows. Side branches serve as refuse and toilet areas as well as food caches. It is solitary, living one to a burrow, and often fights if it meets another. Most breed only once a year.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Easter-Egg Hunt

Tension is mounting as the Mill Valley Easter-Egg Hunt is about to get under way. Who will collect the largest number of eggs? It happened this morning at the Rec Center.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I plead guilty as charged!
I did not take this picture, but I might have! In fact I stole it from Volume 53 of The AMERICAN ANNUAL of PHOTOGRAPHY (1939). I have five volumes from around that time, and this morning I was idly thumbing through the pages of this particular book. When I happened upon the picture by a Charles Buyle, captioned THE TERRACE, I thought "this is exactly the kind of picture I like to take"! 'History repeats itself' and 'there's nothing new under the sun', to bore you with a couple of shop-worn phrases!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pot of Gold?

Several months ago I didn't bring my camera to the Thursday morning walk along the Corte Madera Creek. I could have kicked myself when, for the first time, several River Otters appeared and pranced before us.
Again, today, I didn't bring my camera. And here was the most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen! Fortunately my trusty friend, Bob T, allowed me to use his camera. Thank you, Bob! We looked for a pot of gold but no luck!
The rare and lovely appearance of rainbows makes them incredibly magical for children and adults alike. Perhaps this magic first inspired the notion of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Dating back to Old Europe, the legend of the pot of gold is claimed enthusiastically by the Irish. They'll tell you that fairies put the gold there and then the leprechauns guard it. I believe it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rookery Again

My third trip to the Rookery. Sitting on my folding chair and watching the action! I guess I could get addicted. Fortunately there is something called "Positive Addiction". As a matter of fact I read a 1976 book by that name. William Glasser is the author, if you must know. But back to the Egrets. Every time I visit the Rookery, there are more birds. And more of the street under the trees has been blocked off. The birds are still working on their nests. Babies will appear in June/July, and that's when the fun will really begin. I wish there was a birders' call, such as "Tally-ho" (a largely British phrase, used in foxhunting, shouted when a rider sees the fox). Perhaps, with the help of my fans, I could help fill that void.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


She was standing at the southbound entrance to 101 in Santa Rosa, rotating her sign. I have no idea what her message was, or why the wolf-mask. I guess there's just no pleasing this lady. Whatever the case, I thought she deserved a few pixels.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Red-shouldered Hawk

I tore myself away from the rookery for a day and went Hawk-hunting with Bob T. We were successful, and here is a picture of a Red-shouldered specimen (methinks). Is there a difference between boys and girls? No smart-alecky answers please!

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Great Egrets have a wingspan of 51". This makes it really tricky to land in between branches. That's why there is a lot of fluttering of wings as the birds come in. Which translates into great photo ops for moi! By the way - I have never heard Egrets make a sound until my visits to the rookery. According to my Sibley Guide they are supposed to make croaking sounds. Not these birds. They make a loud mumbling sound, a little like human babies. But perhaps that is their nest-building language.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Santa Rosa Remnant

Remnants of a factory on the way to the Santa Rosa Egret rookery. I have no idea what used to be there. Note how the brick wall on the right is supported. Bob H thought the wall is being kept as the decorative outer shell for a future building housing stores. Anyhow, I really liked the whole scene. A look at the past.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Santa Rosa Egret

This morning Bob H and I returned to the Santa Rosa Egret rookery. The longish trip was well rewarded as the number of birds had more than doubled in the last ten days. Nest-building is in full swing, both for the Egrets and the Night-Herons. I wonder when, and where, the birds get their food. Normally, when I see Egrets and Herons, their main activity is hunting for food, food they find in, or near, wetlands. I'm planning another expedition in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Downtown Sausalito

Downtown Sausalito

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Not So Tiny Bubbles

Last Saturday I took pictures of the Fairfax Little League Parade. Before the parade started, a performance-artist was making giant soap-bubbles, to the delight of the crowd on the sidewalk awaiting the parade. The man was none other than Sterling Johnson, self-styled bubblesmith. He was only too glad to give me his card and I was pleased to learn that we are dealing here with genuine "Hand Blown Bubbles" (none of that cheap imitation stuff).
My birthday is on June 1st, and Sterling can be reached at 415-457-1214 (cell 510-798-3497).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Let me introduce Sabine, Tamara Loring and Philip Greene's beautiful cat. Tamara is a great harpsichordist, Philip a wonderful photographer, and Sabine is very fortunate to have such parents. They live in a lovely (I borrow this word from the fair sex) house in Inverness, surrounded by trees and flowers. That I am very fond of cats may not be widely known; however I really do, especially since they are generally only too happy to pose for pictures.

Monday, March 15, 2010


It happened again this morning at the Ponds.
I cannot stop myself from taking pictures of Great Blue Herons in flight. As soon as  a Great Blue lifts off, my hands, my camera, and even my beard, act in concert, and bingo, I have added another picture to my collection, which has just reached the number 2,387. Positive addictions are said to be healthy, but I'm beginning to wonder. I'll be grateful for your helpful input.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Once again I have listened to the wishes of the multitude of my fans. After my trip to the Santa Rosa rookery, and the picture of the flying Egret, carrying a branch, I was overwhelmed by at least two entreaties to show a picture of a bird in the trees. Here it is. Be sure to look for the twig in the Egret's bill. With their huge wing-span, the birds had to exercise extreme caution in landing between branches.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Don't blame me this time. I didn't touch a thing! Honest! Somebody else did all the work, and all I had left to do was take the picture. I had just shot 150 pix of the West Marin Little League parade, and was heading back to my car, from the newly named Contratti Ballfield, when I saw this must-photograph guy!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Black-necked Stilts

Black-necked Stilts at Shollenberger Park in Petaluma. It seems that nobody has the answers to Flocking and Swarming, something that fascinates and thrills me. My guess is that birds have another sense, one that lets them communicate in a way we cannot fathom.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bird Walk

A couple of days ago at the Ponds. I assume this was a class on a Bird Walk. Binoculars, note-pads, and even a bird-identifying card. I thought it was a nice scene, and especially liked the girl in blue pointing at something she had just discovered. I'm so glad to see kids being exposed to Mother Nature!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Egret Feather

I found this feather the other day, under one of the Great Egret trees in Santa Rosa. A beautiful gift from the birds.
Please forgive me if some of my information does not stand up to close scrutiny! I tried to get it right!
This feather is called a plume. And it was the beautiful bird's plumage that made it far too popular in 19th-century North America, resulting in the egrets being decimated by plume hunters who supplied purveyors of the latest ladies' fashions. Today the great egret is the symbol of the National Audubon Society and represents a conservation success story.
The name Egret stems from the French word Aigrette which means plume.
You may now admire the picture!

Monday, March 8, 2010


Another wonderful adventure. Acting on directions from wonderful photographer Philip Green, Bob H and I expeditioned (?) out to the 'West 9th Street Rookery' in Santa Rosa. There, on a residential street, and next to a school, are two Eucalyptus and one Pine trees, serving as the home of dozens of Black-crowned Night-Herons and Great Egrets. A most unlikely place for a rookery! I sat on my folding chair, watching the birds, and taking pictures as they were hauling in twigs and branches, building nests in the trees for their soon-to-arrive offspring. They paid no attention to the incessant yelping of a neighborhood dog. Soon there should be more activity in those trees, with more arrivals plus newborns.
I could not help but be awed, once again, by the activity of birds. Just think how they know the time if rife to start building a nest, then flying out to pick the right twig, picking it up in their bill, flying with it to the nest, and placing it in just the right and secure spot. That's no mean undertaking!

Shollenberger Park

Heading back after a birding trip to Santa Rosa (pix soon), Bob H and I visited Shollenberger Park in Petaluma. We were greeted, on the shore, by three rather friendly birds. Bob called them ducks, and I corrected him in a very authoritative voice, that they were geese. The fact of the matter is that I didn't have a clue. I just 'thought' they were geese. They seemed almost tame and perhaps even looking for a hand-out. After parading in front of us, they casually waddled into the water. No sooner did I arrive at home than I consulted my guide-books and - you guessed it - came up with zilch! My guess is that the black birds were males, the light-colored one a female. Be sure to admire their curled tails. I swear they were not rubber-duckies!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Accidental Photographer

Some of you, blessed with elephantine memories, may recall a picture I sent out four days ago, which I called 'Bush-in-the-Pond'. Inadvertently and miraculously it reversed itself (this is the truth) into a negative image. I have no idea how it happened, but today, in Point Reyes Station, a lovely lady from Auburn, handed me a copy of THE WATCHTOWER. Is there a connection? Let me cut to the chase ~ I like the picture so much that I elevated it to today's Daily E-mail.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Common Merganser

Common Mergansers are rare visitors to the Ponds. I photographed this one yesterday, out there, all by its lonesome. It is a female. Males have a black back and head. In my experience, Mergansers are one of the few species of ducks where the female is more colorful that its male counterpart (fortunately this also holds true for our own species). I am very fond of these beautiful birds.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Bowing to the hundreds of entreaties from my minions, I present another picture from the orchid show. There are people who go bananas over orchids, and I can sort of understand the way they feel.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I saw it with my own eyes

I saw it with my own eyes.The waning moon rolling down the slope of Mount Tam. I swear that I was stone cold sober. Fortunately I had my trusty D50 along to record the unusual happening, or nobody would believe me. Too bad it wasn't my D90, or I could have filmed (??) the event.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Selection Process

There's a German saying ~ "wer die Wahl hat, hat die Qual" ~ "whoever has the choice has the torture". Sometimes selecting a picture for my Daily E-mail is almost more than I can handle. Should it be another shot from my recently added Orchids file, the one of the Three Dancing Bears, the Cumulous Clouds, or perhaps the close-up of the Sarah Palin look-alike Stripper? I finally picked the Bush-in-the-Pond photo, which I took this morning. I guess its back to my Japanese "Say it with just a few, simple, Strokes" Period.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Change of Pace

Actually this picture is still related to the Orchid Show. I believe, that what you see is called a dock cleat (to which you tie a ship). I spent half an hour googling around for a name and this is the best I could come up with ("ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I shall not put" ~ Winston Churchill). The glasses are from my vast collection of memorabilia, a.k.a. junk. The chain is anybody's guess and the rest is pure fantasy. Oh, and before I forget, we spied the cleat on the dock as we exited the Orchid Show. Does all this make sense or does it seem to come from a rattled mind?