Video Post

Here are a couple test videos from a new video camera to replace one that died.

The first clip is of the northern harrier flying over the More Mesa cliffs, a little while ago. The second is of the remarkable number of pelicans at Goleta Slough mouth, plus a single black skimmer. (A monopod was used for the pelicans; a tripod is needed. The More Mesa clip was hand-held.)

More Mesa and the slough mouth are part of the Goleta Slough system. Starting January 5, CCBER will be holding a series of lectures on Goleta Slough – single hour lectures every Monday evening from 6-7pm. The lectures look really good.


It took a while to get the video editing of the MOD format ducks in a row. I also found out how to embed video in a post. With the Sky3c theme, the embed code always disappeared — maybe I need to update WordPress some time. The handy plugin that made it work can be found here.

More Mesa – Winter Rains

I took a walk this evening on More Mesa. I have not walked there very often this year, unlike most years when visits were more frequent. It is a handy, close area to visit, and a place today to enjoy the anticipation of the rain due tomorrow. More Mesa is one of the best places locally to view the interface between land, mountain and sea. In the winter it is green, with splendid sunsets made more colorful by rain clouds – a rarity in summer. In summer, More Mesa has a unique energy with flowering plants, butterflies, birds (many baby) and bright sunshine.

More Mesa
(More Mesa, looking toward Santa Ynez Mts – December 14, 2008)

I did not take my bird lens this time – just the 28-300mm lens. But, I did see a few interesting birds. Two white-tailed kites were seen in the more southern part of the usual central north-south swath of WTK territory – so possibly there will be nesting kites in central More Mesa this spring. I saw kestrels in two places, one along the eastern edge, and the other in the southwestern area. Perched in coyote brush close to the cliffs, was a loggerhead shrike. But the most surprising was a harrier, which flew over the beach area of More Mesa a number of times. It took me by complete surprise, as I was faced toward the ocean, to see a bird fly from my right over the cliffs and above the beach. I immediately recognized it from the white band on the tail. Do they normally hunt along the beach? There were many birds along the shore, especially sanderlings.

More Mesa
(More Mesa – December 14, 2008)

Located where it is, with the view it affords of the mountains and channel islands, and the abundant wildlife in an urban area, More Mesa is a very special place. I remember Rick Halsey, while attending a Jepson Herbarium course at Sedgwick in 2003, making the comment that after traveling over Chumash Highway (old name: San Marcos Pass) toward Santa Barbara, the largest patch of green, undeveloped land seen, is More Mesa. It is an area that also allows good distance walking along the many paths, with fresh air often cooled by marine fog. I hope it is preserved in perpetuity. A handbook about More Mesa is slated for publishing soon – for more details please see More Mesa link below.

More Mesa
(More Mesa, view toward UCSB – December 14, 2008)


Slideshow – click on any image to start slideshow


ARKive - A unique collection of thousands of videos, images and fact-files illustrating the world's species.

“A vast treasury of wildlife images has been steadily accumulating over the past century, yet no one has known its full extent – or indeed its gaps – and no one has had a comprehensive way of gaining access to it. ARKive will put that right, and it will be an invaluable tool for all concerned with the well-being of the natural world.”

Sir David Attenborough
Wildscreen Patron

“ARKive is a noble project – one of the most valuable in all biology and conservation practice.”

Professor E. O. Wilson
Harvard University



“Your image of the black skimmer resting really complements this profile as it adds a behavioural dimension that is so seldom photographed so well.  I am very grateful to you for allowing ARKive to include it on our site.”

Only one image – but an honor nonetheless. Click on image to see black skimmer collection.

Fruits, Fading leaves, Fresh leaves

Big Cone Douglas Fir
(Big Cone Douglas Fir, Pseudotsuga macrocarpa- November 29, 2008)

The last time I went on a trip was on September 26; I missed the SBBG Fall Foray and also the Countless Conifers trips because of workload. However, I did attend the two evening pre-trip classes for Countless Conifers – and they were like mini-trips themselves. I have never seen such an array of plant foliage and fruit (cone) samples, supplemented with impressive notes. It was just wonderful, and the room had an appropriate feel for this time of year with all of the firs, pines, etc. I had never seen cedar foliage before and thought it beautiful. The picture above (taken yesterday) is a tribute to that class; it is a pity that more people could not have enjoyed the complete course of all things California conifers.

(GPS tracking – Click on image for larger view November 29, 2008)

The trip this Saturday was an excuse to get out from behind the monitor and also to test a GPS unit I had purchased about a month ago. It is a small external unit that I attached to the side of the camera on one of the strap connectors. It had no problem picking up a satellite signal, indicated by a flashing satellite icon. The icon is not always clear in bright sun. It works very well if the camera date/time matches the computer date/time – it matches time to determine the GPS position, when you load the GPS files onto the computer.

I made a couple novice errors – I should have left the unit on all the time, and not turn it on when I started shooting. I forgot sometimes to turn it off, and when turning it on, was actually turning it off. However, this resulted in my discovering that the device tracks from inside the car, because one of the gps files tracks the road travelled from a place somewhere along the summit road to where I stopped at the serpentine sunflower place. One can actually see the movement (yellow line) out of the car, to where I started shooting toyon and other plants down the road. The software only tags .jpg images. I need (sometime) to learn more about the uses once the tags are added to the images, and if other software can add it to the original raw image.

(Toyon, Christmas Berry – November 29, 2008)

Toyon or Christmas Berry was glorious, and a number of pictures are included in the slideshow. “Fading” – there were a number of plants that were still flowering despite mostly drying branches. “Fruits” – many plants had berries or dried fruit. “Fresh” – new leaves were seen on old and new bush lupine, possibly a monkeyflower at the summit, and flowers on chaparral currant. The still-flowering plants were mostly found near seeps. One of the seeps still had apparent water flow, and this was where the faded butterfly was seen, as well as the bush monkeyflower. California fuschia grows in a variety of places, and is always a late bloomer.

(Yucca dried fruit, and seeds – November 29, 2008)

Coyote Bush
(Coyote Bush dried fruit, and wind-dispersed seed – November 29, 2008)

(Cottonwood – November 29, 2008)

The sycamore leaves are not quite red yet; however I came across a glorious cottonwood, highlighted by the sun. Hopefully, there will be time to get out again at the end of the year for redder leaves.

Slideshow – click on any image to start slideshow

Late Summer Stars

Scattered among the brown vegetation, dried spring flowers and fruiting plants, are a few late summer plants that are still flowering. They include several yellow-flowered plants in the Asteraceae (Sunflower) family that are star attractions to a variety of butterflies and insects.

(Northern White Skipper on Bush Senecio – September 26, 2008)

The two most popular plants are bush senecio (Senecio flaccidus ssp douglasii) and California broomshrub/scale broom (Lepidospartum squamatum). The scale broom plants were all aflutter with many Mormon Metalmarks. There were many bush senecio that were visited by a variety of butterflies and insects. Sawtooth goldenbush (Hazardia squarrosa) and California goldenrod (Solidago californica) also have yellow flowers, and visiting bugs.

Vinegar Weed
(Woodland Skipper on Vinegar Weed – September 26, 2008)

Another fall blooming plant, vinegarweed (Trichostema lanceolatum), was flowering in soil that sprouted a variety of lupines in the spring, and where on an April SBBG trip, a number of oak species in that same area were identified and discussed.

Scarlet Monkey Flower
(Scarlet Monkey Flower (the bee enters via the backdoor to the nectar) – September 26, 2008)

California fuschia brighten dried vegetation with splashes of red, sometimes blooming through late fall. At a seep, scarlet monkey flower (Mimulus cardinalis) were found in large numbers near coffeeberry and willow. Autumn willowherb is tiny enough to miss; but the bright pink flowers can be eye-catching against a background of brown.

(Fall Buckwheat – September 26, 2008)

A favorite part of fall is the reddish-brown of drying buckwheat, especially when growing near bluish-green chaparral yucca. The sycamore trees and blue oaks have yet to turn red; hopefully they will be seen on the SBBG Fall Foray trip, on November 3. In the meantime, it is back to the grindstone after a wonderful early fall/late summer trip – day six of my “one-day-at-a-time” vacation this year.

Slideshow – click on any image to start slideshow