A task in my Happify track this week was the Walk of Inspiration:
Take a meditative walk in a place that always inspires your best ideas. It could be a busy street, a hiking trail, or even the mall. (Hey, great ideas can come from anywhere.) Walk slowly at first, with eyes on the ground. Notice the tactile sensations of walking: the feeling of your feet, the temperature, the way your body feels.
Once you can walk at a normal pace while paying attention to sensory experiences, start noticing sounds—but try not to think too much!
Once you can attend to tactile and auditory sensations, start looking around and noticing any activity around you.
I decided that I would set out with the photo app opened on my phone and walk the grounds around the “campus” here at work. We are surrounded by Torrey Pines and native sage brush so it’s perfect for losing yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of nature. A welcome respite from the desk! Today was a good day because I am wearing softer soled shoes so that my own footsteps didn’t interrupt the sounds. It was a little chilly – I was glad I had on a sweater and I needed to button it up due to the gray skies completely covering up the sun. Often though, I find that the gray days mean I can see the bird life more clearly. The lack of glare and deep shadows makes the movement and colors catch your eye a bit more.
Sure enough, not a minute into the walk I heard the soft call of a rufous sided towhee. Not the main trilling song – he wasn’t up on the top of a bush singing – he was just flitting on the ground and then low in the bushes making his more sedated wheezy call. He moved too much for a photo, but was still so beautiful with his black and orange feathers providing a striking contrast to the green of the grass.
After spending a little time watching him, I set about taking pictures and had some fun afterwards making this collage in Picasa. I was paying attention not only to color but also to shape and textures as I walked:
There was more bird song serenading me through the walk, and the scents were fairly strong too. Sage and pine dominated.
Not a bad way to spend 15 minutes, but something I probably would not have done without the reminder – thanks again Happify
I don’t mean to only post updates on Sundays, but….here we go again! No formal race event today, but the training group did invite us out for some open water swim time at La Jolla Cove.
While they were in the water, I took pictures. Some of the swimmers, some of the wildlife all around them. There is one photo of a sea lion’s head poking out of the water just behind them. Several times they were surrounded by the seals. The Cove is a great place for swimming and scuba diving so the water was filled with people.
I was glad I had the wildlife to distract me because once they were out of the cove and heading out to open water I got a lot more nervous for him than I had anticipated! Even with swim partners, he just looked so awkward since he has not really gotten enough practice at swimming in general and never completely put his head down and got a good swim stroke going. I thought his dad had spent some time teaching him last summer – but NO! Argh!
Still, it was fine and I did see some cool sights. The best was an Osprey cleaning itself up on a light pole right above the life guard tower so I got some great close up shots (and to watch it instead of the swimmers!).
Lots of pics of bobbing heads. Bright pink, yellow & white swim caps were with SB who had on nothing since we left his orange swim cap from the tri at home (sigh).
For those interested, his write of his Spring Sprint in his own words has been posted on LegUp Training Blog.
Click HERE to read it.
Not exactly the *perfect* Sunday, but considering that I ran/hiked 4.8 miles at Torrey Pines yesterday AND spent four hours pulling weeds from my flagstone walkway? An hour at La Jolla Cove with me NOT exercising was plenty fine!
Over the last weeks anyone driving along the coast has been treated to the sight of huge flocks of Brown Pelicans soaring along the water line. I’ve been enjoying the views on my way home and saying to myself “I need to snap a picture of this!” Of course I never remember to put my good camera in the car, and the 1st couple of attempts to capture them on the phone were failures, but on the way home yesterday I got lucky with a long line of birds and just enough traffic to slow me down Pardon the funky tilts and angles. Still amazes me that these enormous looking birds actually fly so gracefully.
I kept it traditional yesterday, but I can’t resist sharing a couple of more politically oriented Veteran’s Day today – and yes, I consider these beautiful because sometimes it takes a proper visual representation of an issue to get a very very critical point to be made:
And one more traditional representation of beauty (in my eyes anyway) that I posted on my birding site a couple of weeks ago – Male Anna’s hummingbird in my backyard (do you have any idea how hard those little buzzers are to photograph? Especially with two cats flailing at the window?)
Enjoy your weekend!
Oh, and check out Robin’s place – she’s visiting San Diego for a week and will be posting some of her awe inspiring photos while here. I’ll be taking her out on the trails on Wednesday. Perhaps I can help her find some ceviche?
I may or may not be able to post much again this week. Every time I think I can, something comes up. In the meantime though, what I worked on last week was actually for another site. I’ll post it here later, but for now, make sure you bookmark or add Whatever Nation to your blog roll. *Especially* if you are the parent of teens. Topics addressed over there in prior weeks include cyber safety, raves, teen pregnancy, and birth control. This coming week the topic is bullying. The stories of the recent suicides made this topic a must. In my research on the topic I found a couple of eye opening and helpful sites:
Groundspark - for sobering stats.
The Trevor Project – for more stats and also for resources on how to help the most heavily impacted LGBT youth community.
I didn’t stop my reading challenge. I just took a detour into the political book realm so I wrote up books #38-40 on Pragmatic Progressive. Book #41 will be a Dean Koontz for a quick, Intense counterbalance of fiction.
Fall birding season is here so I’ll be watching/listening for our “cold” weather visitors & listing them on the Torrey Pines Reflections site.
Finally – a comic strip featuring me as the rat. Yeah, I own this!
Please visit the International Bird Rescue Research Center. Donate. Read. Watch the videos. These people are doing the hard work and research on how best to rehab the birds impacted by the oil spill in the gulf. Here’s some screen shot samples:
Further down in the FAQ’s they say that they are using Dawn dishwashing liquid to wash the birds! Thankfully Proctor & Gamble is donating the product to them. NICE:
Check out these quick facts about the spill so far:
Book mark the site. Follow them on Twitter. Share their links on Facebook. This is going to be a long, long process and these organizations need all the support we can give them.
If you follow me on twitter then you saw my statement that I know I will not be able to look at any of the photos of oil-covered birds that will be appearing as the oil spill continues and spreads to the shore line. I couldn’t handle the Exxon-Valdez photos either. I love our feathered friends too much. I feed them in my yard. It’s one thing when the circle of life takes them out (I have no problem watching a Coopers Hawk lunch on a Mourning Dove!), but when we humans do it – UGH!
Thanks to my membership in the Feeder Watch program, I’ve been on the Cornell birding sites and they are magnificent. All About Birds just won a Webby award and a quick visit shows they deserved it. Fabulous photos & sound files and data on bird populations including a section on the birds most likely to be impacted in the Gulf. Like the American Bittern shown above. E-Bird is another great site (they work with Cornell’s sites) and I joined that with the intention of reporting what I see especially when I am out on the trails.
My overall opinion of course, is that anything that harms ecosystems and species the way offshore oil drilling does should be looked at long & hard before we embark on any more of it. Regulate, regulate regulate, and oh, how about the agencies in charge of those regulation actually ENFORCING them rather than (literally) sleeping with and doing drugs with the industries you are supposed to be policing? Yeah, that’d be a change. I’m disappointed that the cleanup of the Interior Department has been so slow, but am heartened by the response I am seeing from Sec Salazar and some of the changes he’s already made.
Meanwhile my heart aches for the birds & the fishermen of the region.
Ok – blog post of the week! This is technically a guest poster on this site, but he just blew me away. Jane, at PlainJane was diagnosed recently with breast cancer and she had double mastectomy surgery this week. It all went well and thanks to the many Cancer-Be-Gone vibrations sent her way (I’m sure it was all our doing, right?!) there were no indications of anything having spread and all offending cells were removed. Still, this was quite the ordeal and we were all on pins & needles sending out those powerful vibes. Thankfully he angel of a husband kept us posted. At first they were perfunctory, “here’s what is up” style updates. Then on Wednesday he posted a detailed update not just on Jane but also on the kids and on him and how he was handling everything. I hope it was cathartic for him to write. It is stunning beautiful and I do advise having a tissue handy.
It Was a Long Day
Townsends Warbler flitting amongst the budding leaves on the peach tree
Fledgling House Sparrows begging for food from an adult
I noticed the fledglings yesterday. There are 5 total with this one male going back and forth from the feeder to an open, squealing mouth. They are quite annoying when they are all lined up whining for food (gee, not unlike human children eh?!)
Interesting behavior note – my backyard flock is made up of Mourning Doves (6-8), White Crowned Sparrows (6-8), House Sparrows (12+) and House Finches (12+) with the occasional Lesser Goldfinch and one or two Song Sparrows. (Warblers and Hummingbirds and Black Phoebe’s too, but they don’t use the seed feeder). I’ve noticed that whenever I scatter them by going outside to refill the feeder or water the plants that the first bird back is *always* the Song Sparrow. Given the it is the one most likely to be alone and the shyest of the flock that always surprises me that he/she seems to be either the Braveheart or the unofficial scout. Of course, it could be something as simple as the Song Sparrow seeing it as his chance to get about 30 seconds of feeder time to himself
Except maybe to walk along the beach below the Torrey Pines trails more often – here’s why:
High clouds created muted, but interesting colors on the water
Guy Fleming trail viewpoint
The boy on Red Butte off the Razor Point trail - 13 year olds are so cooperative with the smiles!
The tree that I use as my profile pic sometimes. Razor Point Trail.
He only agreed to smile nicely since it was my birthday
On the beack below the Guy Fleming Trail
Willet foraging at the wave line just before he escaped being lunch!
Perfect example of the layers of sandstone that make up the cliffs. Green to tan to red. There must have been a falcon perched up there because...
….just a little further up the beach Sportsboy & I noticed an interesting looking “ledge” of the green sandstone at the base of the cliff & we went for a closer look and I was about to take photos when out of the corner of my eye I saw two birds swooping down from the cliffs straight at him! They swerved right past (he swears he could have reached out his arms and knocked one out of the air) and leveled out and flushed the Willet and chased it up the beach. I thought for SURE the Willet was lunch because I knew right away they were a pair of Peregrines. One noticeable larger than the other and the big one was on that poor Willet’s tail! Somehow the Willet was just evasive enough – I think it used a life guard tower as a diversion – to escape at which point the smaller falcon swooped back up to the cliff face just above us and settled down. The larger one actually perched on the somewhat distant life guard tower rail for a bit & I was insanely jealous of the people near there who seemed clue less to the spectacle! Meanwhile I tried my best to get some sort of shot of the smaller one above us – here’s a cropped version which gives a little bit better look:
Peregine Falcon on a cliff ledge just below Guy Fleming Trail at Torrey Pines
The larger one then took off and came swooping right past us again – got a full view of all those dramatic markings, particularly the face mask and streaked underbelly. Such glorious birds to see in flight like that!
Look really closely at the cliff edge - that's a Peregrine Falcon!!
The highlight of hiking on the trails today (besides my son & friends being there) was our walk along the beach below afterwards when two Peregrine Falcons whooshed right past Sports Boy and out over the beach chasing a shorebird who eventually escaped. Then the smaller falcon landed on this cliff face above us while the larger one whooshed back past us close enough again to see his beautiful facial mask.
Happy happy happy was I!!
More late – off to dinner.