Wednesday, October 28, 2020

A Walk in the Park


Yellow-Rumped Warbler
Golden Gate Park, October 2009

Reaching for the Prize

Birdy Num-Nums

Yellow-Rumper in the Manzanita

Townsend's Warbler

Heading for the Border

Black-Throated Gray Warbler

Red-Shouldered Hawk

Fox Sparrow

Orange-Crowned Warbler

Fluffy Goldfinch

Chestnut-Backed Chickadee

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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Pt. Reyes Medley

Sunrise at White House Pool

Elk Bull Scents the Sunrise

Dawn at Pierce Ranch

Cypress in Sun & Fog

Abbott's Lagoon

Lagunitas Creek

Bull Between Bugles

Making Some Noise

Sculptured Beach

Feeding Phalanx of Starfish

Sense of Direction

Tomales Point

Moon Unit

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Monday, October 19, 2020

Marsh Critters

White Pelicans at Corte Madera Marsh
October 2010


When I ride the short boardwalk over Bothin Marsh on my way up to Mt. Tam I often see a pair of black-necked stilts and think I'd like to bring my camera down there to photograph them sometime. I took these pictures around sunrise which explains the magenta cast. I wasn't sure I liked it natural, so I took it out of the top image.

Snowy Egret & Pickleweed

Snowy Reflection

The tide was pretty high by the time I headed home yesterday. I knew it was going to peak at something like 6.5 feet and had been wondering if the boardwalk would actually flood. I've often seen high-tide flooding in the little bowl-section of Shoreline Highway near the Manzanita Park and Ride Lot. I was glad I didn't have to ride through saltwater or even brackish water, especially on an e-bike.

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Saturday, October 17, 2020

Sabrina Basin

First Light at North Lake

I read about a guy this morning who, after a couple of years of immersion in QAnon, finally snapped out of its dark fantasy world. 

Lakeside Dawn

The most interesting part to me was the guy's reason for losing trust in the mainstream media and turning instead to fringe media: "It felt to him like the world was shocked by Trump's win. How had seemingly no one seen it coming? And most importantly, who had? 'I kind of switched off from all mainstream media,'" Jadeja said.

Still, Chilly Morning

It reminded me of my trip down conspiracy lane after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The possibility that the Bush Administration, or some other cabal, had orchestrated the whole thing, seemed at least believable enough to look into. After all, we had just recently experienced Florida's "hanging chad" shenanigans in the presidential election (another time when the popular vote was overruled by the electoral college), and the fact that the Supreme Court essentially made Bush president in a 5-4 vote along ideological lines, lent credence to the idea of nefarious actors in high places.

Taking a Break from it All

I read the conspiracy theories and watched the videos purporting to show the "squibs"--small explosive devices--going off and bringing down the World Trade Center towers. The reasoning seemed plausible, not just as to the why but also the how. And unlike the QAnon fantasy, the WTC attack really happened.

Creekside Aspens and Willows

But I didn't limit my internet research to conspiracy sites. I also looked at mainstream media sites and was probably finally convinced of the truth of the official explanation for how the buildings came down by an article in Popular Mechanics, a reputable media organization.

A Bend in the Stream

The thing is, sure the mainstream media is biased. But that's not the same as being malevolent, or unhinged, or even entirely incorrect. I like to browse The New York Times and Washington Post, and also Fox News and The Wall Street Journal. Although journalism isn't a licensed profession, reporters for major news organizations like these have professional standards that conspiracy theorists do not.

Aspen Grove

Bias in reporting (or anywhere else) isn't the same as lying. For one thing, an individual's bias is probably mostly unconscious. It's not as if journalists are trained to detect their own unconscious bias (although such training is available). Bias is mostly about choosing what stories to tell, what point of view to emphasize, and how prominently to display a story. Very rarely, a journalist does get caught lying, and they are demoted, shamed, or fired. There are professional standards in journalism, and folks like Alex Jones and Q do not meet those standards. Guys like Rush Limbaugh are not journalists but entertainers (at best).

Photographers at North Lake

In my own brief stint as a newspaper reporter I covered a Republican fundraiser where Rush Limbaugh was the keynote speaker. This was in the '80s, before he became a national figure. The one thing he said that has stuck with me all this time is that he had read all the left-wing material he could get his hands on, but that he just couldn't understand any of it. Here's a guy who gained a national audience as a political pundit despite being unable to understand a point of view other than his own.

Another thing I remember about that election cycle was covering the Democrats' fundraiser, which was a "bean feed" (literally franks and beans on paper plates) featuring March Fong Eu at the county fairgrounds, whereas the Republicans' fundraiser was a chicken cordon bleu lunch (with linen tablecloths) featuring Rush Limbaugh at an exclusive country club.

I keep hoping the national discourse will find its civil center, a place of mutual understanding and respect, but it seems like one political party wants us all to hold hands and sing kumbaya while the other wants to play winner-take-all hardball. That seems like a pretty tough pair of opposites to reconcile, but I believe it is possible and, more importantly, necessary, if we're going to rise to the challenges Mother Nature will continue slinging our way in the 21st Century.

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Friday, October 16, 2020

Taylor Creek


I read that Taylor Creek State Park was going to remain closed during the salmon run this fall due to Covid-19 concerns and problems with dog-walkers having scary encounters with bears along the creek.

When I went up there ten years ago the close bear encounter I experienced was probably the highlight of my trip. A large mama bear suddenly emerged from the woods and crossed the creek toward all the people.

I was down by the water's edge and swung my camera around to shoot a few photos and was thrilled--and a little bit concerned--when the bear kept coming closer, eventually getting so close I could barely fit her head in the frame. The bear wasn't interested in me, though. She was interested in the small crowd of people off to the right of me. There was a whole line of them pressing their backs to the brushy forest edge, holding their dogs for dear life. I don't really understand why dogs are allowed out there during the salmon run.

On the other side of the creek, Junior was using some driftwood to get closer to the action in the water.

But when mama scampered back across the creek, Junior soon followed, and both disappeared into the woods.

Farther up the creek, Mr. Claws was feasting on the kokanee salmon.

Taylor Creek

This salmon looked like it wasn't going to take any guff.

Kokanee Salmon on Taylor Creek


Merganser feeding on the creek.

After checking out the bears and salmon and other wildlife at Taylor Creek I drove out around the lake to visit the Bonsai Rock. The next day I'd head down I-395 to check out some fall color in the Eastern Sierra near Bishop.

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