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Sunday, September 2, 2018

Chipmunks, chipmunks, chipmunks...

We have two species of chipmunk that could realistically be found in San Diego County, Merriam's Chipmunk (Neotamias merriami) and the California (or Chaparral) Chipmunk (Neotamias obscurus). Apparently these two species are very difficult to distinguish in the field, but based on habitat type and behavior, I assume that the chipmunks in my area are Merriam's Chipmunks.

Since the Cedar Fire (in 2003) the chipmunk population has increased quite a bit on our property and the surrounding region. On a typical morning 4-5 chipmunks might be seen foraging on the land near the house. We have a mixture of open "grassland, chaparral and oak/pine forest here, which is ideal for these chipmunks.

They forage most actively in the morning, so that is when I try to photograph them from the blind.

Here are the photos from this morning (this was a single chipmunk, which vocalized loudly before appearing).

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Birds of the Cuyamaca Mountains

After a little bit of an absence, it's a good time to shed some light on the mountain birds hereabouts. The avian fauna shifts with the seasons, but many of the species are year-round residents. In the past year-and-a-half or so I've been experimenting with photographing birds and mammals from a blind set up on my property. Slowly the results are improving. I am using a Canon Rebel T1i (an old camera at this point) and a Canon 400 mm fixed focal length telephoto lens to get close to them.

Here are some of the first images taken from the blind set up on a none-too-level spot near a convenient rock (a little peanut butter on the rock was employed too!). All of the images have a rusty background due to the old Eriogonum fasciculatum bushes that are in the background.

California Thrasher. Usually a shy species, but an occasional visitor to "The Rock". A year-round resident.

Acorn Woodpecker. There is a colony close by so these are regulars. This is a pink-eyed individual - a more rare eye color variant. A year-round species.

A first-year White-crowned Sparrow. This is a migratory species, most abundant here in the cooler months.

Spotted Towhee, another year-round resident. This is a male, with blacker plumage and brighter orange sides.

Oak Titmouse (formerly the Plain Titmouse). Another resident throughout the year.