Monthly Archives: July 2014

Tadpoles in the Water, Animal Tracks in the Mud

Mission Trails header(Click on photos to get a better look)

On a hot July day I took my son Sam and his friend JD out to Mission Trails Regional Park.  The Visitor’s Center (on the right in picture above), is a 10 minute drive from our house.  We stopped in to ask about the recent fire (you can see the burn area midway between the Visitor’s Center and the break in the hills), that began here and went up over the hills to the right, and to look around.  The canyon behind where we live is on the western edge of the park, and living so near such a beautiful natural resource is one of the things we love best about our house.

It was a bit hot for hiking, but we did see some great stuff as we poked around the park. We saw live animals like tadpoles, and evidence of many animals like raccoons in tracks in the mud.  We also saw the effect of the drought on the park, as the large pond and running stream near the dam has dried up into a few small ponds.  Check out our photos and read about our adventures below…

Sam and JD on the deck at the Visitor's Center, the beautiful view behind them.

Sam and JD on the deck at the Visitor’s Center, the beautiful view behind them.  On the upper left you can see the area that burned in the recent fire.

Sam and JD in the amphitheater by the Visitor's Center, hanging out with a mountain lion and a wood rat.

The boys in the amphitheater next to the Visitor’s Center.  They are making friends with a mountain lion and a cute little wood rat.

Sam and JD in the amphitheater by the Visitor's Center, hanging out with a mountain lion and a wood rat.

A close up of the area of the burn. We happened to see the arson investigation team working at the site when we arrived.

We are in the middle of a drought in San Diego, the effects of which were very apparent.  I found pictures from 2010, when Sam was on a school field trip.  Back then the dam actually had water flowing over it.  Sam is standing in that area in the middle photo.  There were several small ponds, one a very attractive orange color.

We are in the middle of a drought in San Diego, the effects of which were very apparent. I found pictures from 2010, when Sam was on a school field trip. Back then the dam actually had water flowing over it. Sam is standing in that area in the middle photo. There were only several small pools of water left, one a very attractive orange color.

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One really fascinating thing about the receding water is that there were loads of tracks in the mud.  The upper tracks are raccoon hands.  They look like little fairy hand prints.

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I think the print on the upper left is a big cat.  Cats keep their claws retracted, so you don’t see claw prints in their tracks.  Or else it just a dog with fat paw pads and small claws!  Lots of bird prints too…

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The little pools were full of life.  You can see snail and fish in the green pond, and the little black blobs in the orange pond are tadpoles.  They will probably turn out out to be radioactive, flesh-eating killer frogs, after having grown up in that orange water, so take care in a few months if you are down by the dam!  On the lower left is a wood rat nest, and a lizard on a rock is on the lower right.

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The big pond on the other side of the dam wall.  It looked almost like a planned Zen garden.  A nice note to end on.  If you get a chance, take a trip to Mission Trails and check it out.  Just maybe not at noon on a hot July day.  We had to head to Dairy Queen afterward for ice cream cones to recover!

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Filed under Family, Gardens/Plants/Nature

Summer Photos from My Yard

It seems like every time I walk outside into my yard these days, I walk right back inside…to get my camera.  Most of the pictures in this post are recent, though a few are from previous years.  I haven’t had a chance to share them until now.  The photo of the praying mantis is pretty cool…

See, I told you it was cool!

See, I told you it was cool!

A busy bee visiting the milkweed.

A busy bee visiting the milkweed.

A blue dragonfly on Buddha's bald spot.

A blue dragonfly on Buddha’s bald spot.

Rock purlsane, aloe, and zinnia flowers.

Rock purslane, aloe, and zinnia flowers.

My favorite orange hibiscus.

My favorite orange hibiscus.

Sunny, sunny sunflower.

Sunny, sunny sunflowers.

A big, fat raccoon who invaded our yard to binge on grapes a few years back.

A big, fat raccoon who invaded our yard to binge on grapes a few years back.

Monarch chrysalis tryptych.  The crysalises get darker as the butterfly inside gets ready to hatch.

Monarch chrysalis triptych. The chrysalises get darker as the butterfly inside gets ready to hatch.  I can’t decide if it looks like an alien waiting to attack, or Batman waiting to save the day.

Soon we will have home grown cherry tomatoes.

Soon we will have home grown cherry tomatoes.

A grasshopper, taking a break from eating my tomato plant.

A grasshopper, taking a break from eating my tomato plant.

Spiders we call "Writing Spiders", because they have squiggles in their webs.

Spiders we call “Writing Spiders”, because they have squiggles in their webs.

A dove.  WHO WOO HOO HOO...

A dove. WHO WOO HOO HOO…

A newly hatch Monarch  butterfly.  The colors and pattern were so crisp and intense.

A newly hatched Monarch butterfly. The remnant of its cocoon is hanging underneath the pot lip on the upper right.  The colors and patterns on the wings and body were so crisp and intense.

Monarch caterpillar on the left, Swallowtail on the right.

Monarch caterpillar on the left, Swallowtail on the right.

And finally, Julius hiding behind the milkweed, waiting for the dove to come off of the fence so he can pounce!

And finally, Julius hiding behind the milkweed, waiting for the dove to come off of the fence so he can pounce!

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Filed under Gardens/Plants/Nature