This time of year I always see a large tree that is covered in gold:
That tree was on the property where I was doing a home inspection yesterday. It’s a silkoak (Grevillea robusta). The leaves look like an oak but it actually is not an oak. The Grevillea genus is in the Proteaceae family, which generally has pretty spectacular flowers looking something like this:
I never would have put the silkoak (also called “southern silky oak,” “silky-oak,” and “Australian silver-oak”) and proteas together without the help of my gardening library.
Grevillea robusta might lead you to believe that the tree is robust, and it is, being the largest plant in the Grevillea genus.
It is native to the east coast of Australia and is a very fast-growing evergreen tree. Its wood is resistant to root and was used to make furniture, fences, and window frames. Australia now has significant restrictions on harvesting the tree.
The flowers and fruit contain hydrogen cyanide, an extremely poisonous liquid known historically as Prussic acid. The tree also contains tridecylresorcinol which can cause severe cases of contact dermititis.
I guess cutting some flowers for the kitchen table is out of the question.
Butterfly Jungle, one of the most popular and fascinating exhibits at the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park is now open through April 15, 2012.
The San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park is located at 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido, about 45 miles northeast of downtown San Diego and east of Escondido on Highway 78:
Although the Safari Park is open every day of the year, hours vary. Through April 15, hours are 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Based on experience, if you want to get in to see Butterfly Jungle, go at 9:00 a.m. They only allow a certain number of people in at a time so that butterflies on the ground aren’t crunched to death by the crowds.
A couple of days ago I discovered an area where there are several nesting osprey pairs. I hung around for a couple of hours watching them in fascination…. and taking pictures, of course. If you missed the best of the pictures, it’s at Nest-building osprey. Flying pictures are at Fly softly and carry a big stick.
These are the last of the osprey pictures to show how large the osprey nest is.
The osprey in the center was the bird doing all the nest-building work in my two previous posts:
Here she is returning with the long stick shown in my previous two posts:
What the beginnings of her nest looked like:
Another nesting pair’s nest, and what she wants her nest to look like, except bigger:
Lastly, not too far away, another nesting pair:
I’ll be visiting this osprey area on a regular basis now that I know where it is. Maybe I’ll eventually be able to get some pictures of some young birds.
Zoos are known to exchange species with each other. For example, a few of our African elephants have taken up residence recently at the zoo in Tucson, Arizona.
When I go to the San Diego Zoo or the Safari Park, I’ve been known to spend a lot of time in the many aviaries. A couple of days ago I found a pigeon at the Safari Park. Of course, rock pigeons are regulars just about everywhere in San Diego and every city I’ve ever been in. The pigeon I found, however, is a Nicobar pigeon (Caloenas nicobarica):
The Nicobar pigeon is native to the Nicobar Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean. It is not a threatened species, and is the only living member of the Caloenas genus.
If it’s ever missing from the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park, just send the police to my place…
A couple of days ago I discovered an area where there are several nesting osprey pairs. I hung around for a couple of hours watching them in fascination…. and taking pictures, of course. If you missed the best of the pictures, it’s at Nest-building osprey.
The following pictures show why I was so fascinated. With apologies to Theodore “Teddy”‘ Roosevelt (1858-1919), 26th President of the United States (1901-1909), I title these “Fly softly and carry a big stick.”
I will have more pictures from this osprey area in upcoming posts.
What if you were waiting for a train to pass? One like this:
Most people would sit there patiently and wait for the train to go by. But what if you saw some signs like these while you were patiently waiting:
I was a little freaked out. Locomotives weigh many tens of thousands of pounds and cannot stop on a dime. I’m not sure I’m comfortable knowing that those locomotives might be remote controlled. Lionel trains they are not!
A couple of days ago I discovered an area where there are several nesting ospreys. I had the privilege of watching one of them swoop down to the ground about ten feet from me, clasp branches in its talons, and carry them back to the utility pole where it was building its nest. Here’s just one of the pictures:
I will have more pictures from this osprey area, including nests, ospreys in the nests, flying, swooping, eating….
I went birdwatching early this morning with the San Diego Beginning Birders. We headed out to Tecolote Canyon Natural Park, a place that I had never explored before even though it’s right across the freeway from SeaWorld San Diego:
Although I saw a lot of interesting birds, including an American kestrel, I didn’t really get any good pictures. My 250mm lens is great for the birds at my bird feeders but still too short for out-in-the-wild birdwatching. Christmas….
However, I was more intrigued by a plant that I found near the visitor center:
That’s a California tree poppy (Romneya coulteri), also known as a Matilija poppy and a fried egg plant. It is native to southern California and northern Mexico.
It has the largest flowers of any species native to California, with flowers usually about eight inches in diameter but capable of getting up to twelve inches in diameter.
It was nominated in 1890 for California state flower but lost to the California poppy. I would have voted for the tree poppy.
Here are some more pictures.
One thing I discovered about this plant is that you have to be very careful around it: