Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Is it summer yet?

Summer is my favorite season. I love being warm, having the kids home from school so we can do things like go to the beach and traveling on vacation.

CJ's teacher mentioned today that there were only 8 more weeks of school left, so summer is on it's way! Yay!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Black backgrounds

I think of all the techniques I've learned during my photographic journey, this one is one of my favorites. All you need to do is look for a brightly lit subject in front of a dark shadow, like this goose.
Then just close in on your subject while keeping the background in the shadow.

It works great with plants too.
And flowers come out beautifully when photographed against a dark background.
So, go out and look for those dark shadows with something fun in front of it and you can get a black background too!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Batiquitos Flora

Some of the plants found at the Lagoon.

There are lots of things there to take pictures of, so even though we didn't get the bird shots we were visualizing, we still had fun playing.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Creatures from the Batiquitos Lagoon

Sounds like some horror flick, doesn't it? This lizard is really 10 feet long. The photo just makes it look small. OK, I'm just kidding. All cheap horror flicks have some sort of over-grown creature, right?

It was just enjoying a patch of sunlight until it decided it didn't like being followed by us papparazzi and disappeared under the rock.

A Red-winged Blackbird hanging out.

A Snowy Egret looking for lunch.

A caterpillar of some sort going somewhere as fast as it can.

And a happy dog coming back from a walk. Batiquitos Lagoon has a wonderful hiking trail that was being very well used by humans and canines, while the birds were doing thier thing and ignoring the rest of us.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Batiquitos Lagoon

Batiquitos Lagoon is a coastal wetland north of San Diego between the cities of Carlsbad and Encinitas. It is one of the few remaining tidal wetlands on the southern California coast of the United States. The area is run by the California Department of Fish and Game as a nature reserve.

My friend Pam and I went on a hike there last week. Fog was still hanging on to the water, and there wasn't as many birds as we expected, but it is still a nice place to be.

A coastal lagoon is a shallow body of salt water that is hydrologically connected to both an upland stream and the ocean. This interface between salt and fresh water creates an ecology unique to lagoons because they are both nutrient rich and sheltered (protected from wave action).

Now it is home to many plants, birds, and fish. But this was not always the case. During much of the 20th century, transportation routes built across the mouth of the lagoon cut the lagoon off from the ocean. With the connection to the ocean lost, the lagoon's water became less salty and sediment began to accumulate, reducing the lagoon's habitat value for plant and wildlife species.

The Port of Los Angeles began a project in 1989 to restore Batiquitos Lagoon to mitigate for the loss of deepwater fish habitat, caused by channel improvements and construction of land for cargo terminals in the Outer Los Angeles Harbor, in San Pedro Bay.

The restoration has been biologically successful and the construction of new land and cargo terminals at the Port of Los Angeles has been economically beneficial. Los Angeles got new ship terminals while San Diego got a Nature Preserve. Seems to me we got the better deal!

The ecosystem of the lagoon is gradually changing from a confined nontidal system with limited habitat value to a fully tidal, salt water system with greater habitat value. By restoring Batiquitos Lagoon, the Port has increased the lagoon's habitat value for fish and bird species. And it has given us a beautiful place to get in touch with nature. For more info, go to http://www.batiquitosfoundation.org/.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Valley of the Bones

The 2nd graders at Katie's school put on a play last week. They had been working on it since January and were finally ready to perform for their parents.

The Dinosaurs were sad about all the litter they found lying around and asked us to save the planet.
Katie sure was a natural actress on the stage!

What a mean looking dinosaur, even though she was a cycad in the play. What is a cycad, you ask? It's a plant that the vegetarian dinosaurs ate.

"Save our beautiful planet, with its
rivers, mountains and seas!
Let's all make it green and clean!
Take good care of it please!
Take good care of it please!"

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wild Cucumbers

Wild cucumber is a climbing and trailing perennial that grows from a large woody or fleshy underground root weighing as much as 100lbs. It is because of this root that it is sometimes called manroot, and also that it is one of the first plants to reseed after a fire.
Tendrils used for anchoring the plant grow opposite the leaves. The male and female flowers are separate but on the same plant, and are white with five petals.
The fruit is a green, ovoid gourd to 5" long densely covered with stiff flattened prickles sometimes with a sharp beak at the end and containing 4-16 oblong brown to tan seeds.
Wild cucumber begins sending up rapidly-growing shoots in December and may begin blooming in January, continuing through April. It is a common plant of dry areas of chaparral, washes, roadsides below 3000' and may also be found in coastal sage scrub and foothill woodland communities.
What I really wanted to know though, is why is it called a cucumber when it really doesn't look like one, and is it edible? I'll find out and get back to you.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Nature hike

I love to hike. CJ enjoys it too. Katie prefers something else, anything else, especially if it is warm outside.

She can be distracted though, so we find interesting things along the way.

Like these wild cucumbers. More photos of these another day. so check back.
Or flowers.

Luckily there are a lot blooming now.
Yay! We made it to the top. Katie is the Queen of the Mountain!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Swimming in the Rain

CJ went to his second swim meet yesterday, the Winter Championships at the Mission Valley YMCA. After they got all warmed up by doing some laps, every swimmer stood around the pool for the opening theme song of the Village People's "YMCA".

CJ enjoyed that part. What he didn't enjoy was the rain that started soon after, and got worse as his race was about to start. It was a cold rain too, and windy. We were all miserable.

And into the pool he goes for the 100m freestyle. Aren't I the best mom, to be out in the rain taking pictures of my little swimmer?

Luckily the rain stopped for his next race, the 50m backstroke.

He prefers the freestyle, but I think the backstroke is his best event.

Way to go CJ!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Riding the wind

On a nearby hill on beautiful days like today, people gather to fly their remote control gliders. Today I counted at least 15 in the air at once.

At least I think I counted each one only once as they were moving very fast!
Some would even run into others, and fall out of the sky.

One poor guy spent a while looking for his downed plane in the brush on the hillside.

I don't know if he ever found it. Even with that, they were having a wonderful time. What a fun way to spend some time outside.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Kids at the Zoo

I love taking photos of my kids. I'm sure you haven't noticed that yet.
Katie loves the camera, CJ doesn't.

Unless he can stick his face in some sort of picture, then he's ok with it.

So sometimes I resort to sniping. That's when you shoot at strangers who are unaware you are taking their picture. I've gotten more comfortable with it the more I do it, but it still feels funny when I do it with kids. I don't know how their parents are going to react, so I try to be very subtle and quick. Just shoot and run.

And the pictures turn out to be some of my favorites.

Friday, March 20, 2009

No lions, tigers or bears, Oh my...

We just never made it over to them. But honestly, I could sit and watch the primates all day. Especially when they are active, like these guys were.