Tuesday, February 22, 2022


Walked into the bedroom and saw a dozen parrots on the neighbor's roof.


Many of them were also in the neighbor's oak tree, which he planted as an acorn in the 1960s.

I recently placed one of my trail cams in a new spot, thinking I'd be lucky to catch anything. I turned the camera sensitivity from medium to high so I'd be sure to catch, say, a fox or bobcat slinking through. On other cams, the "high" setting is just a little faster than medium, but on this cam every twitch of a blade of grass fired a series of three still photos. In two weeks it had captured 9,866 frames. That was not a good surprise! Not only did I have thousands of frames of blue skies, there were only a handful of frames with animals in them -- a scrub jay, deer on two occasions, and a couple of nights with a pack rat.

I've been keeping another cam at a different location since November. It was nice to catch this bobcat passing through, but most days caught nothing but squirrels and small birds. Even deer seemed to be staying away.

Coyotes are pretty rare as well.

The surprising thing was how few deer passed through over the weeks.

This spot is a good ways from any hiking trail, but the cams picked up a few mountain bike riders, as well as a couple of hikers and a dog-walker, and I wondered if all the human presence was keeping the animals away.

The tire track left by the mountain biker was still easy to see when I was up there on Feb. 18. No rain in all that time to help wash it away. But no new tracks, surprisingly.

And it seems like the cam is picking up an increase in animals passing by.

And of course the perennial gray squirrels.


Plenty of gray fox too. Love those paws up on the branch.

It's always a pleasant surprise to capture a bobcat. The cam is set to capture three still shots followed by a 6-second video, so I was looking forward to seeing the cat move through the scene.

But the cat surprised me by stopping to smell the branch for the whole six seconds. Note the cool cat paw.

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Friday, February 18, 2022

Two Oaks


Oak Snag Covered In Moss

I opened the curtains when my wife's alarm went off at 5:15 a.m., then got back under the covers to enjoy the view of Venus shining just above the roof next door. I could even see a dim companion star just north of Venus, a novelty when you live among city lights. 

Before going to bed last night I saw Orion in the southern sky and said, "Aha, there you are!" I used to enjoy seeing the constellation near the western horizon on the morning walks I take each workday before sunrise, but it disappeared soon after we went off Daylight Savings Time. There's Orion's belt, dot-dot-dot. Each star just an inch apart. Except that even at the speed of light it would take about six-hundred years to travel from one of those dots to the next.

If you lie in bed staring at Venus long enough you can sort of feel the Earth rotating toward the east as you contemplate the fact that Venus isn't rising; the Earth is spinning. It's kind of cool to picture yourself riding our huge planet like that.

Sunrise with Oak & City Silhouettes

I took the day off to drive up to Mt. Tam to photograph a couple of coast live oaks that have interested me for a while, starting with the moss-covered snag at the top of the post. I've hiked past it many times and no doubt have a million pictures of it on my smartphone, at all times of the year. One day it will topple, and a photogenic landmark will be no more.

Golden Light on Bolinas Ridge

The nearly full moon, now waning, slid toward the horizon, playing peek-a-boo with a few rainless clouds. I couldn't help thinking that Bolinas Ridge should be so much greener by now. My wife has been waiting for it to green up so she can paint a vista to contrast with the one she painted last summer. Before "the new abnormal" we'd have waited for March, formerly one of my favorite months due to the thick green coats of new grass growing on Tam's flanks, but we figure we'd better get what little green we can, while we can.

Calla Lilies

The Walking Oak

Oak Snag, Bolinas Ridge

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