Monday, July 13, 2015

Free Comic Con Events at Petco Park Yesterday

Comic Con ended yesterday. I decided to go down there to see some of the things going out outside the event. Most of those events took place around Petco Park and the library.

I was greeted with a lot of building wraps all over the downtown area. I can't wait to see Minority Report. I loved the movie.

Game of Thrones trailer, one of many in front of the convention center.

This was a free event just outside Petco Park. Mostly, it had to do with video games.

On the other side of Petco Park, the Nerd Carnival was going on. These Lego dinosaurs were right outside.

They were promoting the Jurassic World movie.

I went inside and there were all kinds of video games to try out. But there were lines to all of them. I used to like playing video games, but not so much anymore. I wouldn't know what to do if I had tried to play.

They also had panels going on. I think this lady (I forgot her name, sorry), is part of Amy Poehler's Smart Girls online community. She was talking about doing voice overs for several of the games and videos that Legendary puts out.

Here are some shots of the outside of Petco Park. (By the way, there were tons of people in all kinds of costumes walking around, even on the trolley.)

The Tony Gwynn statue:

The Jerry Coleman statue and photos:

I didn't get a photo of my favorite thing that I saw because it was copyrighted. The library had an art exhibit feature the history of Comic Con over the years. There were program covers, banners, and drawings from many of the famous artists that visited Comic Con over the years, including the artists who drew the Family Circus and Beetle Bailey. You also got to see how the famous Comic Con toucan developed before they changed the icon to an eye, instead.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Comic Con!

Comic Con in 2012
Kevin Dooley
Flickr/Creative Commons

Being in San Diego, I'm almost front and center for the world famous San Diego Comic Con. Unfortunately, getting a badge there is very difficult. There are other giveaways and you can volunteer, but even those opportunities can disappear faster than they come. It also turns the downtown area into a complete madhouse. So, it doesn't look I'll be going over there this year.

Luckily, our local media does hours and hours of live shows and interviews while Comic Con is going on. I swear they interview just about everyone there, plus they have a lot of inside shots and interesting facts. So, living in this town has some perks.

If you're planning to go down to gawk at all the people, please keep these tips in mind:
  • The streets will be so packed that it will be hard for you to see anyone
  • The front door area of the convention center is usually blocked from view unless you're on that side of the street, so you won't really see anyone
  • There are also signs and exhibits that block views
  • Many of the nearby restaurants will be packed and may have restricted access
  • Off-site Comic Con presentations (like that at the library) usually require you to have a badge unless otherwise noted (the library does have one Comic Con presentation open to the public, but the rest are closed)
  • Unless you have a badge, your chance of seeing a celebrity in that area is slim
So, your best bet is to watch the local news stations if you want to see anyone or anything interesting if you don't have a badge. However, you might want to go downtown if:
  • You like to watch the gawkers
  • You like the party atmosphere
  • To tell people that you were there
  • To perhaps see something interesting (by chance)
If you go, be aware that selfie-sticks are not allowed, even when viewing from across the street. Also, good luck getting there by car. Try taking public transport, which will probably be packed early in the morning.


OK, a friend of mine pointed this out on her Instagram account. It's free and not too far from Comic Con if you want to go.

Nerdist Carnival

Sunday, June 14, 2015

2015 San Diego County Fair

I went to the county fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and, sure, I can show you all kinds of boring photos of the fairway, rides, shops, etc like I've done thousands of times in my articles. Sometimes, I'll take photos of the animals in the barns, too. There was no poultry show when I went, so I have no poultry photos like last year. There were so many people, that I couldn't get any good photos of themed performers. Instead, I'll show you some other boring photos from the fair.

I like to look at the birds at the infield pond. This year, like last year, the area was fenced off and there was no access, so I couldn't see much. I heard a killdeer and some stilts, but saw no chicks or nests like I have in previous years. I did see this little ruddy duckling with his mom. They're the little spot in this photo.

I also like to go see the horses. I take pictures to use as reference photos for when I want to do horse paintings. Here is an American mustang at the World of Horses:

There were several competitions at the Charity Horse Show in the arena, including a western riding competition.

This year's theme was the 100th anniversary of Balboa Park and the World Fair of 1915. I saw this poster for 1915 rules for teachers posted in the art gallery. It's probably the only thing you're allowed to take a picture of in there. They don't like people to take any pictures of anything inside most of the exhibits, except, maybe, the animal and fair theme exhibit.

That's all I got. I didn't find anything extra interesting to photograph like a butterfly show or the Beatles theme like last year. The lighting wasn't that good, either. Next week, it's supposed to be really sunny and warm, so it might be good if you want to take nice pictures during that time. It's basically the same fair as usual with the same vendors. The day I went, the small music shows were good, but I didn't go to the grandstand shows.

The fair runs until July 5th and is closed every Monday. Be sure to arrive early, preferably on a weekday. I would recommend parking at the horse park as the parking in the fairground parking lot costs a lot of money. Plus, they drop you off right at the entrance.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Count birds on Saturday and a word about Chollas Lake

Global Big Day:

So, apparently tomorrow is some kind of global bird counting day. It is hoped that everyone around the world will count birds tomorrow. It's called the Global Big Day and it's also a fundraiser for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It's a lot like the Great Backyard Bird Count. Click on that link and it will take you to a page where you can submit your data.

International Migratory Bird Day:

Head on out to the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve tomorrow, May 9th,  for fun activities for the whole family at their visitor's center. They're located at 301 Caspian Way in Imperial Beach. They will have birdwatching tours, educational games and activities for adults and children. It's a nice reserve with lots of interesting native plants and animals.

May 16th, Explore Mission Trails Day:

Mission Trails Regional Park will have a ton of activities all over the park for Explore Mission Trails Day next Saturday, May 16th.. Most of the activities will either be at the visitor's center at 1 Junipero Serra Way, East Fortuna Staging Area, or Kumeyaay Lake Campground.  Your kids can ride a pony, get a close-up look at raptors and do crafts. There are also several walks, including a birding walk and a starlight walk. It runs mostly from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with the night-time activities at Kumeyaay Lake starting at 7 p.m. Call the Mission Trails Regional Park for more details at 619-668-3281.

A word about Chollas Lake:

Recently, news stories have started jumping on the city for dumping water into Chollas Lake. For those who don't know, Chollas Lake is a small pond that used to be a fully functioning reservoir. Currently, kids under 15 fish there and there's camps for underprivileged children and other activities. The residential area nearby is an ethnically diverse, low income area. It's an extremely nice park and it's extremely nice to have a park like that in a low income area. 

The news media is making out that they're only dumping water into the lake so that people can fish. Trust me, it's not a prime fishing spot. But, it's nice for the kids. It's also home to dozens of domestic waterfowl who can't travel anywhere if the lake were to dry up. They would have to be re-homed or even euthanized if that lake dried up. I'm sure the staff there would do their best to get them new homes if that happens, but I don't think that all of them will be able to be able to be rehomed. Other wildlife may also suffer as other areas get drier and drier.

Chollas Lake is also a backup source for water to put out brush fires in the area. And, it can still function as a backup reservoir. The problem is that, I guess, a lot of it evaporates and those eucalyptus trees suck up a lot of water. I say that they need to do more research on this instead of criticizing the situation and making it look like a bunch of privileged people are being selfish.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Baby news, Ternwatchers, and people stealing wildlife

Gosling at Lake Murray

Sorry that it's been a while since I last posted. I've been dealing with other writing gigs and the like. Anyway, before I get started with a little news of what's going around San Diego and SoCal, I would like to make an announcement. If you enjoy researching birds and want to help with predator abatement of one of the world's cutest chicks, then you might want to be a Ternwatcher for San Diego Audubon. This program monitors and records predator interaction at the least tern nesting sites in Mission Bay. You can apply here. I am going to apply even though I am still having a hard time watching cute baby animals get eaten. I just witness a bunch of adorable ducklings at Lake Murray getting slaughtered by the herons. Plus, one of them was eating live squirrels, too. It's really hard to watch, especially when they're cute. Also, killdeer nest there, too, and I might faint if I see one of their babies carried off.

Speaking of baby animals, there are several baby goslings at Lake Murray right now and more of them on the way. All the babies from last year, now teenagers, are still hanging around, not knowing what to do. One of the babies, which was returned to the lake by Project Wildlife after it had disappeared last year, seems to have already found a mate for next breeding season. There are also baby squirrels at the lake, too, and about 30 ducklings have also made an appearance so far, but almost all of them have been eaten by herons and cormorants. But, more are to come.

What's up with people stealing wildlife, lately? Not only did I see a guy grab a nearly grown Canada goose at Lake Murray recently, but someone stole a baby seal in Los Angeles lately. I mean, seriously, what would someone want with a seal? The perps apparently harassed the mother and tried to grab both her babies, but the other one got away. I sure hope the baby they stole is doing OK because baby seals need a specialize diet and care. I can understand why people steal ducks and geese, but a seal has no useful purpose. 

If you love seeing the wildlife, don't take it with you. Let it be and you can enjoy it for the rest of its life.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Police searching for missing SDSU student at Lake Murray

Update: Right as I was posting this, they announced they found his body. Apparently, they found him while I was there, but I had left before they brought him out.

Many people who read my other blogs know that I frequent Lake Murray here in San Diego. I guess on Thursday morning, a set of clothes and other personal effects were found on the round concrete structure near the Kiowa Drive entrance. After searching all over the lake for the owner of these items, the police were called. There is currently a search going on.

Just to let you know, there is officially no fishing or any boat launching until the police are done in the area. They have the area completely closed off around the docks.

I don't know how much I want to say, but they are searching all areas of the lake, but are focusing just to the east of the booms at the dam and maybe near the dam.

The 18 year old man was a student at SDSU and did not show up to class on Thursday. Most of the school has been doing mid-terms all the last week as next week is Spring Break. One TV station has released his name and shown a picture of him, but I can't remember his name. But, I do know that he's from San Jose. His parents are very concerned about him and say he may have been under stress. According to some of the local media, a suicide note mentioning water and the lake was found.

There is talk by non-participants and observers that this might be a hoax. I think it might be wishful thinking. Bits and pieces are coming out through the media that indicate that this is something serious.

If you go to the lake, be aware that you may not be able to access certain areas or may be told to stay out of certain areas. Also, the noise from search helicopters is pretty loud. The helicopters were creating a wind that even blew a mother duck's tiny baby ducklings around.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Birdy weekend with a bird festival

OK, it's the weekend again!  And, it's birdy and the weather is awesome! If you want to help the least tern and visit an island in Mission Bay that you usually can't visit, then contact Christina Hirt of the San Diego Audubon Society at or call 858-273-7800 x106 ASAP.

Basically, what you will be doing is removing trash and invasive plants from FAA island on Mission Bay. It's a known least tern nesting area that has been having some success since it started to be maintained. The event takes place THIS SUNDAY, March 8th, probably in the morning. You have to contact Christina to find out the time and location of where the boat will pick you up. Once you are there, you can't leave until everyone's done, which will be in about three hours. There's no restroom or anything you can use as a restroom, so don't drink any coffee or juice that morning. But, do bring a water bottle and sunscreen.

Unfortunately, I've been sick a lot lately and haven't had the energy to work on the least tern sites this year. But, I may go to the San Diego Bird Festival at Mariner's Point. This year, not only Sunday set aside as a family fun day, THE WHOLE WEEKEND is going to have free family-friendly events. Friday and Saturday's free events go on throughout the day. There will be a couple of free bird walks in the area as well as kid's art classes, a class on attracting birds to your garden, and an expo with optics and live birds. On Sunday, most activities start around noon, but the 'Big Sit' along the bicycle path starts early in the morning. There are some events that might require a fee.

The Big Sit bird numbers around mid-day last year

Mission Trails Regional Park will have an art reception on Saturday, March 7th from 1-4 p.m. in their visitor's center. They are currently exhibiting work for the Pastel Society of San Diego. They are located at 1 Junipero Serra Trail near Mission Gorge Road.

Unfortunately, I posted too late for an upcoming hike on March 7th from 9 AM to 1 PM at the Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve. They required RSVPs on March 5th, so it's too late to reserve a spot. I'm just mentioning it because I want people to be informed about the Reserve and keep their eyes open for the next hike. They usually have a hike at least once a month. They're located in Southeast-Central San Diego County (east of Spring Valley). If you want to ask what hikes they will be having next time, call 619-654-3793.

Friday, February 20, 2015

GBBC, Weekend to-dos in San Diego, and the Chargers

I happened to get extremely ill last weekend, so I had to limit some of the bird counting for the Great Backyard Bird Count. I did see some interesting birds, but the only unusual one I saw was a cackling goose at Chollas Lake:

In the South Bay, I saw a bunch of shorebirds, too!
Shorebirds in the South Bay

This weekend, San Diego Audubon will have what might be the last Salt Works tour of the year. They close it down during the summer so that the birds can breed in peace. There is a long tour of about four hours and five miles long. And, a short tour which could last up to three hours. Once you go in, you can't leave until the tour is over unless it's an emergency. Though kids are welcome, it's not recommended. My experience has been that kids under 10 or 12 tend to get bored and restless as the pace is slow. They also must stay with the group and can't run ahead or stop to play anywhere.

It might be canceled due to the predicted rain this weekend. You can call Peter Thomas at 858-571-5076 for more information. The good thing is that it doesn't start until Noon, so you don't have to get up early for this one. Meet at the gate on Bay Boulevard south of Palomar Street in Chula Vista. Be sure not to be late or you may get locked out.

The Chargers: You may have heard about the Chargers bombshell when they said they've been working out a plan with the Raiders to move to Carson City in the L.A. area. The people in Carson act like it's a done deal and somehow have a plan that involves no public money. Mayor Faulconer here in San Diego is a bit upset because they've been working on negotiating with the Chargers for about nine months now and he says he never knew about these plans.

A lot of people here in San Diego aren't happy with this sudden move. I'm wondering why the same deal can't be worked out here. The only thing I can think of is that it requires the co-operation of another team and San Diego is not a two-team town. So, that means that either the city or the Chargers will have to use their own money.

I love the Chargers, but, I don't think the city should shell out a lot of money for a new stadium considering the team and the NFL make a lot more money.

Now on

I did two articles there recently:

Large Number of Band-tailed pigeons dying


Sea Lion Pups Stranding Themselves in Record Numbers

Monday, February 9, 2015

Don't forget the Great Backyard Bird Count is this weekend!

This is an osprey photo I took in 2011. I even did the GBBC back then.

February 13-16, 2015 is the Great Backyard Bird Count. This is a less formal bird count than the Christmas Bird Count which happens in December. Despite the name, you don't just have to count in your backyard, but you can if you want.

I plan to count somewhere for each day of the count. I like to do Lake Murray, around my home, Chollas Lake and somewhere in the South Bay. If you decide to count, try to pick an area where you are less likely to see people counting the birds. Be sure to count for at least fifteen minutes (of course you can count for longer periods).  You can sit by your window and watch birds come to your feeder if you like. After you count, go to the GBBC site and enter them on eBird through their link for them to count  If you're not familiar with eBird, visit the site and familiarize yourself with it.

It's important to get out there and represent San Diego with a high number of bird species. San Diego, and California, usually have some of the highest species numbers in the nation during the GBBC.  Some of the areas which may need some counters are the more remote areas of the desert and mountains. If you are planning to hike around this weekend, perhaps bring your bird journal with you so you can count the birds. Also, urban areas such as mid-city and southeast San Diego may also need counter. Southeast San Diego has a lot of birds, actually.

Don't worry if you don't know how to identify every bird you see. Just do the best you can.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Nature stuff going on around San Diego the weekend of January 31-Feb 1, 2015

Buena Vista Lagoon

I usually post my weekend events articles on Examiner, but thought I would post them here and see how they do. I may go back to posting them on Examiner in the future.

Saturday's weather is supposed to be a little wet, but may clear up in the afternoon. It should still be a nice weekend for most activities, though. Bring an umbrella for Saturday morning. Here are a few things going on this weekend.

Earth Discovery Institute: I like posting events for this organization. Mostly, they work with the east county preserves such as Rancho Jamul and Crestridge. This weekend, they will be having  the "Lilac 5k Fun Run and Kids Fun Run Fundraiser" on Saturday, January 31st from 7-11am. The actual race starts at 8:30am. and begins at the Crestwood Ecological Horsemill Road entrance at 1171 Horsemill Road in El Cajon. Unfortunately, pre-registration ends tonight. But, you can register at the day of the event. Entry fees for the race on the day of the event are $30, but Crest residents get $5 off. The fun run is $15 for the day of the race. Contact the Earth Discovery Institute at  619-447-4715 or email for more information.

Mission Trails Regional Park: The park wants people to know that the south climbers trail is now open. It was damaged by fire last summer. This area is popular for climbers and is open from sunrise to sunset. Be prepared for a lot of people on the weekends. Also, if you want to learn about the basics of birding at Mission Trails, there will be a free class this Saturday at 1pm in the Visitor's Center. They are located at 1Father Junipero Serra Trail in east San Diego. Call them at (619) 668-3281 for more details.

Buena Vista Audubon: You can also learn about basic birding and participate in a bird count at the lagoon this Saturday beginning at 8am. The class starts at their nature center at 2202 S. Coast Highway in Oceanside. Joan Fountain at 760-729-1379 and Tom Troy at 760-420-7328 are the ones leading the class and count.

Update on "Mystery Goo": So far, no one knows what the goo is, but some of the bird patients that were being cleaned are being re-released in a different location. They have ruled out oil and PIB, the substance that killed hundreds of sea birds in Great Britain a few years ago. The little dunlin shown in the picture on this blog a few posts ago is said to be doing well.

On My page: Sorry that I haven't posted a Lake Murray birding update as I've been a bit under the weather. I may have to pass on it for this month and post it next month. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Desert stuff and water

Last week, I went to the Borrego Springs area. I used to go there more often in the past, but with high gas prices, it made it too expensive to do so. When I went, it was very nice with mostly clear skies and mild temperatures. I went out to look for birds, mostly.

The first place I went to was Peña Springs in the Culp Valley area of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. I've been there many times and have even done artwork based on that area. The funniest thing is that I can never find the actual spring though I look really hard for it. Someone will have to show me where it is sometime. Springs are interesting places to visit as they often attract a lot of animals, especially in the summer. If you do visit a spring during the warmer months, be respectful and limit your stay. That way, the animals won't have to wait too long to get their water.

Here are some photos of the landscape:

On the way down to Borrego Springs, I noticed, for the first time, that there are two large solar farm in the valley. I love green power, but I worry about the birds. At first, this one looked like it was a lake, which made me worried. However, the panels were all propped up at an angle. I noticed when I was driving level that it emitted a bright shine.

This one has flat panels, but they are dark, so they don't look like water. I am not sure about hot hot they get, but not all solar panels heat up. I didn't actually visit the farms or talk to anyone from them, so I don't know much about them except what I can see from a distance.

I heard there was a rare bird over at Rams Hill, a resort-residential area that has long been established. I also heard that the golf clubhouse has good food at reasonable prices. The area is restricted and you're not allowed to visit unless you are going to the golf course or clubhouse. You must check in with the guard. Once you're there, you can walk on the golf cart trails, though.

They have very nice water features there. I really enjoyed the landscaping which attracted a lot of migratory birds. I guess there's been controversy over Rams Hill having so much water as there are water issues in the Borrego Valley. I'm not sure if those issues with Rams Hill were resolved or if they have found a compromise, but that wasn't why I was there.

Lots of coots there, enjoying the water and warm weather, plus they fertilize the greens. I wish I took a photo of the clubhouse. But, since they have good food, I may be back anyway.

Oh, and the rare bird, an Inca dove, was not found that day.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

West coast updates and news

Hi everyone!  Sorry I haven't posted much in the last month on any of my blogs. For one, I haven't been taking very many photos of birds and such.  Also, I haven't done a whole lot of artwork, either. I may write here more regularly now, though.

For those of you who have known me from may notice me posting a lot fewer articles. The main reason is money. I'm practically not getting paid anymore. I get paid for traffic and nothing else. I used to get paid every month, but not for a long time. I think it's due to overall changes in search engine criteria and the internet. It's also hard to get support when I need it. I'm planning on writing one article a week or less each month until page views there go up. I actually get paid more doing other things or even blogging.

Speaking of Examiner, I just published an article there about a massive goo problem in the San Francisco Bay Area. International Bird Rescue has been inundated with birds stuck with a sticky substance similar to rubber cement. Right now, it is not known what the substance is, but it is suspected to be the same substance that affected sea birds off the coast of Great Britain a couple years ago. You can read more about this in my Examiner article:   Mysterious substance coats sea birds in East San Francisco Bay.  IBR says it's up to almost 300 birds in need of care and that the goo may have made it to the west side of the bay.

Gunked up patient at International Bird Rescue
Credit: International Bird Rescue
They need a lot of donations because there is no one deemed responsible for the mess, yet, so they're paying for everything.  You can donate on their site or pick them as a charity to donate through Amazon Smile.

I haven't posted anything on the killdeer blog, lately. But, I do have a few pictures I've taken. When I was counting birds, I came across these rare guys at Lake Murray (horned grebes):

This weekend: If you are looking for stuff to do this weekend, the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve will be cleaning up junk in the Tijuana River Valley from 9AM to Noon this coming Sunday, the 25th. Meet at the entrance to Border Field Park at 1500 Monument Road. You must RSVP for this project.  You can do so here.

King Tides!!! Today was the second day of King Tides in San Diego! Today's was at 8:30AM. Tomorrow, it will be at 9:01AM.  A good place to see them is anywhere along the shoreline, or around San Diego Bay. If you miss tomorrow's tides, look for some in the middle of February.

Here are a couple photos I took last year of the King Tides. It went right over the bike path in the South Bay near the Silver Strand.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

Wow, it got really cold, too!  And, on at least two freezing cold (or below freezing cold) days, I had to get up early to go count birds! Today was one of those two days. You can see a little bit about today's count on Killdeers, Phoebes and Finches, my bird blog.

I haven't done anything for New Years since I was half my age, so I didn't do anything last night. We had snow relatively close to town a couple of days ago. Today, so many people went to Julian, a small historic mining town in the mountains, that Julian closed the town down, pretty much.  Well, not really, but they were asking people not to bother coming up there. Apparently, traffic was backed up all the way to El Cajon the way people were talking.

Not much happened in town on Christmas. It was a nice day and I went down to Lake Murray to see the ducks and loons. Arthritis duck is was still there, but last Tuesday, he was shivering in the cold, so I am worried about him. I haven't checked on him in the last few days, so I don't know what is going on with him.

Even though it was cold, it was a nice day to do stuff. I'm glad I didn't go to Julian. I've experienced enough snow as a kid when I lived in Detroit, so I don't care if I see any. I might go up to Julian later as I like the tea shop up there.