December 16, 2014

Evening Grosbeaks in Big Bear

Merriam-Webster: "part translation of French grosbec, from gros thick + bec beak."
As always, click to embiggen.

I HAVE NEVER SEEN ONE. They better stick around for a while, is all I can say. Lance Benner recorded their flight calls last week: check out his recording on Xeno-canto. At last report there were 20 - 25 of them continuing south and west of the Big Bear Lake City Hall/Civic Center. Look up in the treetops. Did I mention that bears are occasionally spotted along Metcalf Creek? Anyhow, it's beautiful country — and now that the ski resorts are open, traffic will be nuts. Drive safe.

Photo by Cephas: Source

December 13, 2014

While I was sweeping

Joesph's Coat, a variety of Opuntia monacantha. A friend gave me the (spineless, glochid-free) pad — thanks, Kim! 

New growth! No words for how beautiful everything is this morning, under a blue sky after yesterday's desperately needed rain. The mountaintops are white — friends in Big Bear called to say they have over a foot of snow. 

Birds everywhere: Pine Siskins, Lesser and American Goldfinches, Bewick's and House Wrens, Anna's Hummingbirds, a friendly Oak Titmouse, and yesterday in the rain, the biggest Cooper's Hawk I've ever seen. The hummingbirds perch on the big agave spines and vibrate, fierce, territorial, iridescent. Scrub Jays, woodpeckers... everyone is busy, your servant with the broom, Jasper with the dustpan. I really have to make a video of Jasper fetching the dustpan.

My favorite cactus in the garden is a Black-spined Opuntia, Opuntia macrocentra, that I like to think of as a rescue. Here he was at the nursery, all scale and black widows.

Leave him in those containers, they said. Just throw the whole thing in a bigger pot, they said.

Sorry, nursery lady! He got VIP treatment, and pride of place, and I love him.

This afternoon I'm going to buy a small pomegranate tree for a giant pot — such a beautiful day.

July 9, 2012

Smiles of a summer night

God only knows how many photos I've taken of dogs on this bed. You can see my big cur-dog Smoke, for one, at the top of the left sidebar. I took this photo of Jasper late last night. [As always, click to embiggen.] We're at the family cabin south of Big Bear Lake, in the San Bernardino National Forest.

I'm organizing a related Flickr set. Two, count 'em, two photos so far! Here's the link: Dogs on the bed.

June 20, 2012

Two hands, one camera, and a gopher snake

"She's a beauty!" And very mild-mannered. Big, too: over five feet long. She was found and photographed on a friend's property near San Timoteo Canyon and relocated to a safer spot nearby. A few more photos here, all thanks to the faithful point-and-shoot.

Pituophis catenifer annectens - San Diego Gopher Snake
[From California Herps]

May 21, 2012

Scarlet Tanager at Arrastre Creek

[Please be there on Wednesday... please be there on Wednesday...] First spotted on May 19 by Brad Singer, Eric and Elaine Tipton, and Sandy Remley, during their San Bernardino Mountains Big Day. Check out the lttle yellow-orange feather at the base of the tail. Beautiful, beautiful bird.

Update: Still there on Sunday afternoon, May 20.

May 20, 2012

Historic, in its own little way

On Friday afternoon, May 18, 2012, I spotted a big fox squirrel in my oak tree here in Pleasantville. First sighting of this species ever. A few more photos here.

These not-so-little guys were first brought to Los Angeles in the early 1900s, possibly from Tennessee, and they've extended their geographic range, as the biologists say. A 2004 study found them as far east as Claremont — you can read more about the study here. The next fox squirrel census is scheduled for 2014, and I am so ready. They better not trouble my dear western grays, is all I can say.

Solar Eclipse, 2012

Photo taken at 6:40 PM or so up in San Jose, California, by my most excellent sis. Click to embiggen.

Chez Robin

As Crush says, "Little dudes are just eggs, leave 'em on the beach to hatch, then coo-coo-ca-choo, they find their way back to the big 'ol blue."

Via the most excellent Fawnskin Flyer.