April, 2012

Rock Wren

Just before leaving the hotel to head back home, I toured the hotel grounds with camera in hand to see if there was any other birds I could shoot. No Anna’s Hummingbirds in sight this morning, and no other birds (other than sparrows) came into range. And then I saw this little guy singing his heart out on the patio of the hotel. I managed to get a few shots off, and here are the results:

Rock Wren Singing

Rock Wren Singing

Rock Wren on Rail

Rock Wren on Rail

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Birds in the Old Cactus Garden at Balboa Park

One of the reasons I went to Balboa Park was because I was told that the gardens were a haven for the local bird life. I started out at what’s known as the Old Cactus Garden, and took a number of shots in the morning, and after visiting a number of the “pocket museums” on the grounds, came back in the afternoon. The sun was never fully out, but it cooperated just enough for me to get some great shots, particularly of some of the hummingbirds that loved some of the bright red flowers on one of the tree-like succulents there.

Female Anna's Hummingbird Sipping Rainwater from Ground

Female Anna's Hummingbird Sipping Rainwater from Ground

Female Anna's Hummingbird Drinking Nectar from Red Flower

Female Anna's Hummingbird Drinking Nectar from Red Flower

Female Anna's Hummingbird Drinking Nectar from Red Flower - Close-up

Female Anna's Hummingbird Drinking Nectar from Red Flower - Close-up

Female Anna's Hummingbird Drinking Nectar at Base of Red Flower

Female Anna's Hummingbird Drinking Nectar at Base of Red Flower

California Towhee

California Towhee

Female Hooded Oriole

Female Hooded Oriole

Male Hooded Oriole

Male Hooded Oriole

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Visit to the San Diego Model Railroad Museum

I had a package deal that allowed me entry into any five of the museums on the Balboa Park grounds. I decided just for fun to go into the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, which is the largest such museum in North America. I had an electric model train set when I was a boy, but never really caught the “bug” and went beyond that point, but have always been fascinated in the elaborate detail and often humorous touches that go into such large-scale layouts.

Thanks to the lighting and the pervasive glass, I found that it was next to impossible to get good shots of moving trains with the gear I had with me. So I concentrated on some of the miniature details. If I had a tripod with me I could have done better, but I still like some of shots I came away with from that visit.

I noticed that the Wikipedia article on this museum didn’t have any shot of the museum, so I posted the following image to Wikimedia Commons for use on the Wikipedia page:

Facade of the San Diego Model Railroad Museum

Facade of the San Diego Model Railroad Museum

Enthusiast Among a Small Scale Layout

Enthusiast Among a Small Scale Layout

A Contented-looking Engineer

A Contented-looking Engineer

Traffic by the Pacific Hotel

Traffic by the Pacific Hotel

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Trip to the San Diego Zoo

The conference concluded mid-day, so I had the rest of the day to explore San Diego. A colleague of mine was interested in seeing the San Diego Zoo, and realizing the photo opportunities, readily agreed to join him.

Such a terrific zoo, and it was a good day to visit it: the sun was out but it never felt too hot. We hopped on the SkyTrain which took us to the other end of the zoo and slowly worked our way back to the entrance.

I had a field day taking shots of just about everything that I could get a good photo of (and a few I couldn’t. 😉 Here are some highlights:

Male Wood Duck Close-up

Male Wood Duck Close-up

Sleeping Koala and its Mother

Sleeping Koala and its Mother

Male Peacock Close-up

Male Peacock Close-up

Rosy-billed Pochard

Rosy-billed Pochard

Male Hooded Merganser

Male Hooded Merganser

White-headed Buffalo Weaver

White-headed Buffalo Weaver

White-faced Whistling Duck

White-faced Whistling Duck

Victoria Crowned Pigeon

Victoria Crowned Pigeon

Male Fairy Bluebird

Male Fairy Bluebird

Proghorn #1

Proghorn #1

Pair of Meerkats

Pair of Meerkats

Male Black-spotted Barbet

Male Black-spotted Barbet

Ivory-billed Aracari

Ivory-billed Aracari

Guanaco

Guanaco

Emerald Dove

Emerald Dove

Hyrinx

Hyrinx

Golden-bellied Mangabey

Golden-bellied Mangabey

Dromedary Camel

Dromedary Camel

Female-Fairy Bluebird

Female-Fairy Bluebird

California Condor Getting Ready to Fly

California Condor Getting Ready to Fly

California Condor

California Condor

Black Spur-winged Goose

Black Spur-winged Goose

Black Spur-winged Goose (Look for the Spur by its 'Elbow')

Black Spur-winged Goose (Look for the Spur by its 'Elbow')

Black-billed Magpie

Black-billed Magpie

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Anna’s Hummingbird

While wondering around the hotel’s grounds, I discovered that the top branch of a small tree that was just level to the tennis-court terrace was a popular spot with some of the local birds. In particular, a small female Anna’s Hummingbird kept zipping hither and yon but always coming back to that little branch, presumably because it was such a good look-out. With my fast telephoto lens in hand, I managed to take plenty of shot of the little bird:

Female Anna's Hummingbird Close-up

Female Anna's Hummingbird Close-up

Female Anna's Hummingbird on a Small Branch

Female Anna's Hummingbird on a Small Branch

Female's Anna's Hummingbird About to Fly

Female's Anna's Hummingbird About to Fly

Female Anna's Hummingbird Flying Away

Female Anna's Hummingbird Flying Away

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Male and Female Red-Winged Blackbirds

There are plenty of Red-winged Blackbirds down by Woodbine Park right now. The males are the easiest to spot as they are calling out their territory, but it is usually harder to spot the females as they are better camouflaged. Here are some pics of the ones I was able to see.

I particularly like this shot, which was taken using my new (to me) Olympus E-620 using my 200mm f/2.6 telephoto lens, as there is extra detail captured using this camera’s 12.3 megapixels as opposed to the 10 megapixels in my old E-510. I like how you can make out the touch of “gold” on her shoulder, and the slightly darker patch of feathers just above her beak and eye.

Female Red-winged Blackbird

Female Red-winged Blackbird

A few minutes later I saw another female who had just come out of a bath and was drying herself off. So here’s a pic of slightly soggy female red-winged blackbird.

Female Red-Winged Blackbird After a Bath

Female Red-Winged Blackbird After a Bath

This male red-winged blackbird was on the ground, looking for something to eat. He spotted me and gave a squawk before heading back to look for more food.

Male Red-winged Blackbird Squawking

Male Red-winged Blackbird Squawking

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Red Admiral Butterflies Return

It’s been warm lately, and these bright orange-fringed Red Admiral butterflies have arrived en masse in our area. A welcome touch of colour at this time of the year.

Red Admiral Butterfly

Red Admiral Butterfly

Butterflies on Neighbour's Flowering Tree

Butterflies on Neighbour's Flowering Tree

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Gazebo at Kew Beach Shrouded in Fog

Gazebo at Kew Beach Shrouded in Fog

Gazebo at Kew Beach Shrouded in Fog

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A Visit to Wizard World 2012

Went to Wizard World Toronto with my daughters and a couple of their friends today. Wizard World is the first of a trio of comic-book related events that take place in Toronto every year, the other two being the Toronto Comics Art Festival (arguably my favourite as it is mostly indie publishers) which takes place in May, and Fan Expo Canada which comes in August.

Arguably the smallest of the three, Wizard World is still fun and is aimed at those fans looking to meet (and get autographs from) cult-series celebrities as well as substantial comics-related stuff, sci-fi and other genre stuff, along with a few local, independent artists looking to make a name for themselves.

Case in point: the local Dr Who Fan Club had a Dalek on hand, which the girls posed with at the show. This turns out to be Dalek Auric, who has his own fan page on Facebook.

Wizard World: Girls with Dalek

Wizard World: Girls with Dalek

A smaller display of Dr Who fandom:

Wizard World: Dr Who Items

Wizard World: Dr Who Items

And then there’s the t-shirts:

Wizard World: Dr Who T-Shirt Display

Wizard World: Dr Who T-Shirt Display

Don’t forget the cosplayers!

Wizard World: Annie with Stormtroopers

Wizard World: Annie with Stormtroopers

Wizard World: Cosplayers

Wizard World: Cosplayers

Wizard World: Minecraft Creeper Head

Wizard World: Minecraft Creeper Head

Then there are the celebrities:

Wizard World: Amy Ackerman

Wizard World: Amy Ackerman

Wizard World: Dean Stockwell

Wizard World: Dean Stockwell

Wizard World: Crowd Photographing Arrival of Scott Bakula

Wizard World: Crowd Photographing Arrival of Scott Bakula

And other random stuff:

Wizard World: Beware the Boss Behind You!

Wizard World: Beware the Boss Behind You!

Wizard World: Rainbow Dash in Plastic Beads

Wizard World: Rainbow Dash in Plastic Beads

Wizard World: This is Not a Pipe

Wizard World: This is Not a Pipe

Oh yeah, comics:

Wizard World: Row of Comics 1

Wizard World: Row of Comics 1

Wizard World: Row of Comics 2

Wizard World: Row of Comics 2

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