It appears that you are currently using Ad Blocking software. What are the consequences? Click here to learn more.
Advertisment
Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

UCR Botanic Gardens

March 17th, 2015 · No Comments

One of my best outings on my family vacation in Southern California during January was a visit to the campus of the University of California, Riverside. My niece Julie and her husband Curt arranged the trip for me.

I had graduated from UCR in January 1960 and hadn’t ever been back there for exactly 55 years. While I do try to stay in the present, I don’t always succeed, but usually am looking ahead rather than back. But this time it was great fun to look back.

When I first enrolled in September 1955, I was one of only a few hundred students on the campus. UCR was conceived as a small college devoted to the liberal arts and had begun only one semester earlier with 127 students. After a year there, I enlisted in the U.S. Army and then studied at the University of Würzburg in Germany for a year but returned in to UCR in September 1958, and got my B.A. degree there in January 1960. By then UCR had more than 1,000 students.

It had changed a bit more in the intervening 55 years. UCR now has more than 21,000 students, including almost 3,000 graduate students. Only a small minority — 17 percent — are white. Asian American and Hispanic students make up two-thirds of the student body.

The Carillon Bell Tower didn’t exist during my years there but is now the dominant landmark in the center of the campus.

​UCR's Carillon Bell Tower from the Botanic Gardens

UCR's Carillon Bell Tower from the Botanic Gardens

Click on the picture above to enlarge

The Botanic Gardens has more than 3,500 species of plants from all over the world. Most of them are native to deserts, which is certainly appropriate considering that Southern California is a desert and is now suffering from the worst drought in its recorded history. Like most of the campus, the gardens didn’t exist until well after I had graduated.
[Read more →]

Share

Print This Post Print This Post


→ No CommentsPosted in: Photography

Newport Harbor

March 16th, 2015 · No Comments

During my family vacation in Southern California during January, my niece Julie arranged several great outings. We went with my sister Liz and my niece Kathy to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where none of us had ever gone before. On that outing I didn’t take any pictures and instead concentrated on looking at some that were quite a bit better than mine. Kathy took this shot of the four of us at the Getty.

Kathy, Me, Liz, and Julie at the Getty

Kathy, Me, Liz, and Julie at the Getty

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Our next outing took us all the way down to the shore of the Pacific Ocean at Newport Beach. Julie arranged for us to rent a small motorboat for a couple of hours as well as arranging for her husband Curt to drive it through Newport Harbor She knows that I especially like to take trips in small boats and this one was a whole lot of fun. Julie’s daughter Samantha, who works in Los Angeles and another young lady who shares the apartment with her, came along for the ride.

[Read more →]

Share

Print This Post Print This Post


→ No CommentsPosted in: Photography

Bolsa Chica

March 8th, 2015 · No Comments

Bolsa Chica may be the most famous birding site in all of Southern California. When I went there this January it certainly lived up to its reputation.

I was back in Southern California to visit with my family in the Ontario area. But first I flew in to LAX to visit with my friend Andrew, who lives a block from the sand at Manhattan Beach about 5 miles from the airport.

Because I miscalculated the dates that I could stay with Andrew and when I could stay with my niece Julie and her husband Curt in Ontario, I had one day without a host. My mistake turned out to be fortuitous because I had a day to visit Bolsa Chica, which is 31 miles south of Andrew’s home and 45 miles from Ontario. This great birding site is at the northwest corner of Orange County between Long Beach and Huntington Beach.

Staying at a beachside motel kitty-corner from the entrance to the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, I was able to visit this global biodiversity hotspot for a total of seven hours early one morning and late one afternoon, the best times for both birding and photography. Visiting Bolsa Chica in January was also a great time to be there because more of the 300 species of birds that have been seen there get there during that month.

While the Bolsa Chica wetlands are mostly a salt marsh, it has five miles of trails, most of which I hiked at least once during my visits. “Bolsa Chica” means “little bag” in Spanish, perhaps in reference to the low rolling hills that were here in the 1800s. Those hills are built up now, and it’s awfully lucky that we preserved this area on one of the most populous coasts in the country.

This little bird below was one of the last ones I saw as I hiked out of the reserve on my second visit. It was snatching insects from this branch that it returned to again and again, offering me tremendous views quite close to me.

​A Male Anna's Hummingbird Hunts its Dinner

A Male Anna's Hummingbird Hunts its Dinner

Click on the picture above to enlarge

The very last bird that I saw at Bolsa Chica was only a little bigger. This tiny falcon is the smallest hawk that lives in North America, and I think one of the most beautiful.

[Read more →]

Share

Print This Post Print This Post


→ No CommentsPosted in: Photography

Time Passes Slowly

December 13th, 2014 · 3 Comments

“Time passes slow,” Bob Dylan says, “up here in the mountains.” It can pass slowly wherever we connect with nature, but here in Colorado, where we are over a mile high, we benefit from slowing down our mental clock and adjusting to the pace of the wild after too much work indoors.

I have heard that other people may get bored when time seems to pass slowly for them, but for me it is relaxing. More of us need to develop patience, and being with wild animals and birds helps that to happen.

Lately, I have had so much that I wanted to do that I haven’t had enough time to do a lot of it. Stress started to build and I got a headache that lasted for days: Not until I took two hours off to sit at Josh’s Pond in nearby Broomfield.

​My "Blind" at the Edge of Josh's Pond

My "Blind" at the Edge of Josh's Pond

Click on the picture above to enlarge

I took the camp chair that I keep in my car and carried it here where the reeds shielded me enough from the birds on the pond that I didn’t look like the usual scary human. Next to the chair is my camera equipment (besides the one I used to take this photograph).

[Read more →]

Share

Print This Post Print This Post


→ 3 CommentsPosted in: Photography

The Road Less Traveled

December 7th, 2014 · No Comments

Sharon and I took the road less traveled through the Sawhill Ponds Wildlife Preserve on a sunny and warm Tuesday morning. In several places it wasn’t even a trail, much less a road, and we had to bushwhack cross-country. That made all the difference in terms of how much fun we had. We had a great time exploring new parts of a preserve that each of us has hiked dozens of times before.

I wanted to show Sharon the route that I finally found last month through the undeveloped central part of the preserve. We got to the trailhead just as the first light was hitting the ponds at 7:30, but then, just 15 minutes into our hike, we got sidetracked. When we came to the pond shown in the photo below, we saw a big white bird in the far distance.

A Big White Bird Rests in the Distance of Sawhill #2

A Big White Bird Rests in the Distance of Sawhill #2

Click on the picture above to enlarge

To approach close to the bird we had to hike south, to the left, of this long pond, taking us where neither of us had ever hiked before. We didn’t even know if we could get close, but we succeeded by walking through the tall grass.

[Read more →]

Share

Print This Post Print This Post


→ No CommentsPosted in: Photography

Belmar Park

November 11th, 2014 · 1 Comment

Hooded Mergansers are so uncommon in the West that only once before had I ever seen and photographed one of the handsome males, and that was at some distance. But a couple of weeks ago Sharon told me that some of these extravagantly crested little ducks had arrived at Lakewood’s Belmar Park, which I had most recently visited 2 1/2 years ago.

Yesterday, however, was the first good chance that I had to return. That was because I wanted a sunny weekend morning, in part to avoid the rush hour traffic on weekdays. Returning the 30 miles to Boulder on a weekday after an early morning hike could be frustrating, because this is a city park, just six miles from the Colorado State Capitol in downtown Denver.

​A Male Hooded Merganser May Be Small, But We Can't Miss Seeing Him

A Male Hooded Merganser May Be Small, But We Can't Miss Seeing Him

Click on the picture above to enlarge

[Read more →]

Share

Print This Post Print This Post


→ 1 CommentPosted in: Photography

Sawhill Ponds Wildlife Preserve

November 8th, 2014 · No Comments

The middle of ​Sawhill Ponds Wildlife Preserve ​is wild and is therefore my favorite part of the preserve. But after the September 2013 flood wiped out many of the social trails, we haven’t been able to get through. In five or six previous attempts this year I tried every trail and animal track without success.

But this week I made one more effort. I followed a track along the south side of the big pond at the north center of the preserve that I had previously given up on as being impassable. This time I succeeded in getting through.

The Middle Part of the Preserve is Wild​

The Middle Part of the Preserve is Wild

Click on the picture above to enlarge

I ​didn’t encounter anyone in the two hours I was on the trail. Not even Sharon, who had left th​at​ morning on a trip to Southeast Asia.​ And I picked a great day to make my discovery.​

[Read more →]

Share

Print This Post Print This Post


→ No CommentsPosted in: Photography

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

November 4th, 2014 · No Comments

As Sharon and I returned from Staunton State Park last week, we passed through the town of Morrison, where ​red ​sandstone rock formations provide a dramatic backdrop for outdoor concerts at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. But to Colorado’s birders it is equally famous for the bird feeders behind the Trading Post.

This is one of the few places anywhere where we can see all three species of rosy-finches, and we have usually gone there in winter.​ But this time, in late fall and in the middle of the day, we were trying our luck.

We got it.

We were happy to find several Oregon-form Dark-Eyed Juncos in the rock gardens. Sharon and I both appreciate its subtle colors. While these are common birds that often come to my own bird feeders, they have been difficult for me to photograph. Until now.

The Colors of an Oregon-form Dark Eyed Junco Match Those of the Rocks

The Colors of an Oregon-form Dark Eyed Junco Match Those of the Rocks

Click on the picture above to enlarge

[Read more →]

Share

Print This Post Print This Post


→ No CommentsPosted in: Photography

Staunton State Park

November 3rd, 2014 · 4 Comments

Staunton State Park is so new that it’s not even finished. Opened to the public only since May 2013, Colorado’s newest state park is six miles west of Conifer and an hour south of Boulder.

Sharon discovered the park by searching the Internet and suggested that we hike there this week. We chose a cloudless and still day, but the temperature was below freezing when we got to the trailhead at 8,200 feet just after the park opened at 8 a.m.

I had no great expectations, particularly because we knew that the dams for the ponds at the end of the 2.2 mile Davis Ponds Trail were still being built. Nevertheless, this trail seemed to each of us to be the best place for us to begin to explore the new park. However, we wanted a somewhat longer hike, so later we made another loop of about 2 miles around the Staunton Ranch and Mason Creek trails.

When we got out on the trails, we were most pleasantly surprised. The mature ponderosa pine forest we found there is less dense and more attractive than many other pine forests in the state. The trail itself could not have been more to my liking: Not only does it have a smooth gravel surface without rocks or roots so I didn’t have to watch it constantly, but it is also wide enough for two to walk abreast and climbs just enough to give us moderate exercise.

​Sharon Pauses on the Davis Ponds Trail

Sharon Pauses on the Davis Ponds Trail

Click on the picture above to enlarge

I also didn’t expect to see much wildlife or many birds up this high in the mountains. But one of the first animals we saw were Abert’s Squirrels, which are confined to the Colorado Plateau and the southern Rocky Mountains and we have rarely seen before.
[Read more →]

Share

Print This Post Print This Post


→ 4 CommentsPosted in: Photography

Water in Fort Collins

October 28th, 2014 · No Comments

Water was what we wanted when we went wandering out West on Wednesday. Whoops! We actually went on Thursday, which wrecks the alliteration.

Sharon and I went to Fort Collins, which seems to have as much love of alliteration as I do. We went past the city’s Magpie Meanders and on a previous trip had visited Prospect Ponds and Cattail Chorus.

Sharon wanted to go to the Cache la Poudre River Corridor Natural Areas at North Shields Ponds and the nearby McMurry and Salyer Natural Areas. I wanted to go to the Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area. So we compromised and went both places.

We appreciated the Cache la Poudre River, which has so much more water than Boulder’s creeks do.

The Cache la Poudre at First Light

The Cache la Poudre at First Light

Click on the picture above to enlarge

The first big bird we saw was on one of the North Shields ponds just north of the river.

[Read more →]

Share

Print This Post Print This Post


→ No CommentsPosted in: Photography