Saturday, April 30, 2011

Meanwhile Back at the Ponds ....................

Meanwhile back at the LGVSD Ponds the Cliff Swallows were building their nests under the bridge near the parking lot. My picture shows three of them scooping up mud, which is their nest building-material. Swallows are constantly on the move and I am really thankful to today's camera- and lens-makers for enabling us to stop the action.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mahatma Gandhi

Every so often, when in San Francisco, I feel drawn to the statue of Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948), which stands by the Ferry Terminal, right next to the Ferry Building.
The statue was a gifted to the City of San Francisco in 1988.
Yesterday, when I took the picture, I got quite upset when I saw that cars were now allowed to park all around, within a couple of feet of, the statue. As a matter of fact, I had a hard time finding a spot from which to take my picture. There oughta be a law ...................

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Owls Revisited

About three weeks ago I posted a picture of Mama Owl with Baby Owl. The babies (I think there are three) have been growing and flapping their wings, getting ready for the Big Day! The attached picture shows two of them as they were observing me yesterday. Stay tuned for future  family adventures!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

This Morning at the LGVSD Ponds

What's mom gonna do when they'll all quack for wheels and iPhones?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Yesterday Bob T and I went to Bolinas in search of Ospreys. In our search we drove up a road called Altura to the very top of a hill from where I took the attached picture. For your orientation ~ the Bolinas Lagoon is on the left, the tree-studded area is Seadrift in Stinson Beach. Right below us is the Bolinas Lagoon Inlet across which is stretched the rope for the annual Fourth of July Stinson-Bolinas tug-of-war . And yes, that's the Pacific Ocean on the right. The Ospreys, however, must have taken the day off!

Monday, April 25, 2011


Sorry I'm late, but these bunnies didn't hop into my field of vision until today. Which is not surprising, since nothing is ever quite on time in Bolinas where the bunnies mysteriously appeared. Proving again, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that there really is an Easter Bunny (and a seawall).

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Everything But The Kitchen Sink

From this morning's Tiburon walk with Bob H.
Here's old St. Hilary's (built in 1888), a Century Plant, a Scrub Jay, Belvedere Island, the Bay and, to top it all off, the San Francisco skyline. I try not to be a postcard photographer, but sometimes even I can't resist!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Yet another picture from the recent walk on the Bear Valley Trail. This one is of a baby Wood Fern (I think). I am charmed by the way the little fronds look, before they finally uncurl. I'm reminded of a musical instrument.

Friday, April 22, 2011


That last one should have read Myosotis!


Bob, Dick, and I saw jillions of Forget-me-nots along the Bear Valley Trail last Tuesday. These were brought out by the unusually heavy rains we have been experiencing. A beautiful sight!
Some people call them non-native/invasive and a couple of years ago I actually encountered a kindergarten-teacher with her class, yanking out Forget-me-nots near the little Dipsea Trail bridge in Muir Woods. We had words and she got a little abusive. In my opinion we should welcome Forget-me nots to our woods.
Besides, I like their name because I'll probably always remember it.
And here's a bit of valuable information ~ the Forget-me-not is the State Flower of Alaska. Who'd a thought!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Driving past the Marin Civic Center Lagoon in the slight drizzle this afternoon, I noticed a man with, what appeared to be, two fishing poles held up high. I slowed down and realized that the man was making large soap bubbles. Of course I stopped to take some pictures. I had met Sterling Johnson, known as bubblesmith, at parades and the like, in Fairfax. Today he was practicing his art minus an audience. As you can see, he is very skilled at his trade.

Pinwheel Marasmius

Another picture from yesterday's Point Reyes expedition. Definitely a Pinwheel Marasmius unless, of course, I identified it incorrectly. Growing out of a decaying tree. My guidebook states that "like most marasmius species, this revives with the rain and seems to appear overnight in the wet morning woods".

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bear Valley Creek

The Bear Valley Trail in the Point Reyes National Seashore is a favorite of hikers, birders, runners and bicyclists. The Bear Valley Creek runs alongside the trail until it reaches Divide Meadows. With all the rain we've had, the creek was rushing along merrily this morning, winding its way through bay trees, sword ferns, forget-me-nots and richly diverse vegetation. A lovely sight to behold, guaranteed to make the spirits soar!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Civic Center Again

Here's another one of the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael. This is the beautiful entrance leading to the escalator. The architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, lived from 1869 to 1959. Sadly, he was not to see either the Administration Building (completed in 1962) or the Hall of Justice (completed in 1970). I wonder whether he personally designed all the gorgeous details, such as this door?

Hot Air Balloon

Last night, hunting for a midnight snack in the refrigerator, I ran across my favorite Brie. But what I saw was a hot air balloon. All it lacked was a wicker basket (aka gondola). I went to work, and, by 1:00 AM, the contraption was ready for takeoff. And here it is, passengers and all, seconds after taking flight.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


I believe this flower is called Salsify. On the 1.8 mile walk around Deer Island we saw only this one. Salsify is also called Goatsbeard. It has a large root, which can be eaten as a vegetable which, supposedly, tastes of oysters. But I think more research on the subject is advised!

Friday, April 15, 2011


My sincere apologies to those who don't like spiders (my daughter, for instance)! 
On our walk around Deer Island yesterday, Bob H and I noticed, what looked like, a cotton ball atop a wheat stalk. As we drew closer we discovered an unidentified spider scurrying toward this ball, which turned out to be a nest. The spider dashed into it. And, I think, I saw it close the opening behind it.
My picture is of the scurrying phase of the event!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Deer Island

Some pictures just present themselves and you click the shutter  automatically, thinking not required! Such was the case this morning, on our (Bob H. and I) 1.8 mile hike around Deer Island in Novato. Watch out for the abundant Poison Oak, and the mosquitos. And admire the abundance and variety of wildflowers.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Good Morning!

You just never know who you're going to meet next. This guy looks like he's had one too many!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Horned Owls

This morning, Kare H. showed a Horned Owl nest to Bob T. and me. It is located near the Highway 101 and Smith Ranch Road intersection in San Rafael. The parent is on the left, the baby on the right.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Anise plants at sunrise at the Ponds this morning. Soon this year's crop will pop up. I feel so privileged living here. And darned lucky!

Sunday, April 10, 2011


The closest I come to identifying this grass, growing at the Ponds, is oats. Of course, the reason I took this picture is because of the beauty of whatever it is! Did Albrecht Dürer (1471 - 1521) know the names of all the grasses he painted?

Saturday, April 9, 2011


I photographed this guy/gal at the Ponds the other day. And I was sure that I could identify it in one of my guidebooks as soon as I got home. No such luck! And now I don't even know whether it's a butterfly or a moth! Ignorance is bliss they say. But who are they? The insect was quite white and the green color is the reflection of the leaves. And please remember, I am a fledgling photographer, not a lepidopterologist!

Friday, April 8, 2011


I photographed this Swallowtail in Eva L's beautiful garden in San Rafael.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Marin County Civic Center

It is impossible for me to visit Frank Lloyd Wright's Marin County Civic Center without taking a picture of the magnificent structure. Here is yesterday's result.
Correction ~ In yesterday's E-mail I identified the swallows as Barn Swallows. In fact they are either Cliff- or Cave-Swallows. Last week I took pictures of Barn Swallows at the Ponds, and it didn't occur to me that there would be two species in one location. Therefore I didn't take a closer look. So sorry, please!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sky Dancing

According to the FAA (FAR §91.303), aerobatic flight is defined as "an intentional maneuver involving an abrupt change in an aircraft's attitude, an abnormal attitude, or abnormal acceleration, not necessary for normal flight." A more general, but equally accurate description, might be "sky dancing."

Watching the Barn Swallows at the McInnis Ponds is a real trip. For a minute they swarm in a tight group, only to disperse and fly every which way. Then back again, all together, in a pack. I have seen computer models of swarming, but they don't explain the communication part of the activity.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mexican Standoff

Just a few days ago this meadow was a lake, what with the heavy rains we experienced. Now that the water is gone, the cows are back, dreamily chewing their cud. Except for these two ladies, who obviously had some issues. I am tempted to call this picture "Seeing Eye to Eye", except that the expression infers the exact opposite of what was happening. Being a city boy, I have no idea what these two were up to. But regardless, Bob T. and I watched them for several minutes, fascinated by their antics.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Cormorants just hanging out on a (buoyed up) pipe in one of the LVSD ponds this morning. These guys and/or dolls have it easy, compared to their Asian counterparts. From around 960 AD, fishermen in China and Japan have used trained cormorants to fish in rivers. To control the birds, the fishermen tie a snare near the base of the bird's throat. This prevents the birds from swallowing larger fish, which are held in their throat, but the birds can swallow smaller fish. When a cormorant has caught a fish in its throat, the fisherman brings the bird back to the boat and has the bird spit the fish up. Though cormorant fishing once was a successful industry, its primary use today is to serve the tourism industry.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Great Egret

I regret having disturbed this Great Egret at the Ponds yesterday. She/he was hunting for fish in the water amid the Cattails (which had seen better days) as I walked along the trail.
The behavior of Great Egrets at the Ponds is so different from that of Egrets at the rookery in Petaluma, that they seem like different species (which, of course, they are not).
P. S. ~ I love watching the contortions these birds do with their necks.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Not much bird life at the McInnis Ponds this morning, so I had to look for other photo-ops. And that's where the Coccinella Septempunctata (aka Ladybug), sitting on a Wild Radish leaf, came in. I'll let you do your own research, but I will tell you that farmers love ladybugs because of their voracious appetite. In its six-week life-span a ladybug will consume 5,000 aphids. That's when we scientists say "wow"!

Friday, April 1, 2011

New Sculpture

Sometimes I get confused. Does Art copy Functionality or does Functionality copy Art?
Whatever the answer may be ~ here's a genuine Zurn Wilkins Backflow Preventer at the College of Marin in Kentfield sporting my favorite straw hat. I've been eying the device in passing for weeks. Finally I stopped to take the picture.
By the way ~ backflow prevention assemblies are used to protect water supplies from contamination or pollution.