March Notes

By: WatchinTheSky , 11:55 PM GMT on March 02, 2013

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March 13 11 AM ish local
An hour after a couple of 4.6-4.7 quakes rattled the area. They were centered around Anza, near Borrego. This morning at work, I am about 75 miles away. There was a gentle bump and a bit of a rattle. Small quakes. It has been a while since we have felt any shaking.

Older notes - Spring, for the northern hemisphere, is just 3 weeks away - though today in San Diego county was much more like summer. Plenty of 80s around with lots of sun.
February was a rain washout, we barely received a third of expected and we are right in the middle of our short rain season. NWS says a 'chance' of rain Wednesday. Come March - in like a Lion!!

News on the - ahem - San Diego Zoo Safari Park (whew) front. The long missing balloon ride is in test phase and was spotted high over the Park today (400-500 feet over the Park). Should be open and available for rides soon - a nice view of the Park and San Pasqual Valley.



Wish I could get more than a couple finches at the sock ;)

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34. calpoppy
10:37 PM GMT on March 28, 2013
As a poppy expert, LOL, I have seen cal poppies with more than 4 petals many times.

Very nice explanation of the differences of the two species!
Member Since: February 18, 2008 Posts: 52 Comments: 3621
33. WatchinTheSky
4:10 PM GMT on March 28, 2013
Well, it's clear (literally and figuratively!)- No March miracle this year for SoCal, as far as rain is concerned. So I am thinking BC's alternative is the only shot we have! WU says no rain until April and NWS only has a slight chance for showers by the last day of March.
Something I became curious about (after a comment on a poppy blossom I posted). Leaves not prominent in photo.

It was suggested this was an Arizona poppy since it has 5 petals. So what is an Arizona poppy?
Per Pima Community college -

Also called Arizona Caltrop, Orange Caltrop, and Summer Poppy. 5 petals (not 4 as in Mexican gold poppy) (one might also say 'not 4 as in Cal poppy).

Per University of Texas at Austin (apologies to Mrs WTS) -


The Az poppy petal has quite a different texture compared to the Cal poppy (not to be confused with calpoppy!) Maybe more telling, the Az poppy has pinnately compound leaves while the Cal poppy has alternately branching finely divided threadlike leaves.

But about those petals, the general rule is Cal poppies have four petals, true. But some sources say 4 or more, and I have recently seen a six petal bloom. Most have been four petals, though.

Thanks to the gallery commentor for piquing my interest, but I am sticking with my original label! California poppy, Eschscholzia californica

Family Papaveraceae (poppies)
Order ranuculales with includes buttercups

Speaking of Ranunculus, the Flower Fields in Carlsbad should be approaching peak bloom pretty soon, though I have not been by yet and have not heard much on the local news so maybe they are slow this year.
Member Since: September 20, 2005 Posts: 130 Comments: 1825
32. BriarCraft
8:10 PM GMT on March 27, 2013
April showers bring May flowers, but in case the rain doesn't cooperate, there is an alternative...

Member Since: June 21, 2004 Posts: 77 Comments: 3918
31. calpoppy
8:00 PM GMT on March 24, 2013
The last Oriole species has arrived the Bullocks! Plus the western Kingbirds have arrived also, I believe the gangs all here!

Tiny apples would be cool on my apple bonsai!

I haven't brought my 'bonsai' cherry tree home yet, the perks of working at a nursery, LOL!
Member Since: February 18, 2008 Posts: 52 Comments: 3621
30. WatchinTheSky
8:29 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
No, I am pretty sure Karen came up with that!! hehe! OK, maybe I did.. April would be a toughie for sure, but since that's my bd month, I wouldn't want it to be murky/gloomy/hmmm.. unless it's going to RAIN!

BC - hadn't seen sharpie for a while, but did see him yesterday. Can still hear orioles whistling/chattering up in the grove and I can see them from work when I check my WUcams. No little brown hummers yet.

cp - Hi! yay, orioles are back! I've certainly not heard anyone locally talking up the wildflowers this year, rain did not cooperate :( I can see it now, super tiny apples on your bonsai apple tree!

Today is surprisingly clear at 6 miles in from coast, maybe Karen is not too 'murked in'! Last night they were really talking up eddie.
Member Since: September 20, 2005 Posts: 130 Comments: 1825
29. SBKaren
1:30 AM GMT on March 22, 2013
March Murk is NOT the name I gave it! WTS did!!!! I don't want to name it and make it comfortable staying here!!!!

The last few days (my work days) have been OK. So now that my days off start tomorrow, I expect to see more marine layer! LOL We'll see!
Member Since: February 21, 2005 Posts: 195 Comments: 14535
28. BriarCraft
6:29 PM GMT on March 21, 2013
Orioles are back and Sharpie went elsewhere. That bodes well for the orioles.

I glimpsed my first rufous hummer at the feeder on Monday, the 18th, so promptly replaced the 2-week-old nectar with fresh. So far, it's been quite cold for the little guys -- few insects in the air for a protein source, and very little nectar consumption. I expect there's only one or two here, or maybe several stuck in a semi-hibernation state of torpor.

March Murk! Karen's come up with a good name there.
May Gray. June Gloom. But some months just aren't conducive to catchy names. I mean April _______!
Member Since: June 21, 2004 Posts: 77 Comments: 3918
27. calpoppy
5:11 PM GMT on March 19, 2013
Hi WTS! I have a california juniper that a friend started from seed, and I took a bare root cherry tree planted it then took most of the trunk off. I am letting it root into a 5 gallon container, but am keeping the top short, as well as the branches. Just a couple of future bonsais, should be enough to start with. Though a bonsai apple tree would be neat.

Wildflower season is going to be bleak!!

Maybe you could sneak a lily home with you!

Orioles are back, singing away!
Member Since: February 18, 2008 Posts: 52 Comments: 3621
26. SBKaren
12:08 AM GMT on March 19, 2013
I suggested 'March Murk"!

I don't want to give it a name and make it feel welcome. I just want it out of here! We did have some sunshine yesterday and we were outside for most of the day.

Today...........it's back. Ugh! At least tomorrow I'll be at work and inside most the day. The sun will probably be shining............that's the way it seems to go!!! LOL

**Modify - I don't know what symbol I put in here....but it went wacko! Sorry!
Member Since: February 21, 2005 Posts: 195 Comments: 14535
25. WatchinTheSky
11:27 PM GMT on March 18, 2013
Hi cp! Friday evening I saw the first oriole! And when I ran the time lapse on my WU webcam, I could see that he showed up earlier in the day and came back frequently. Saw the 1st 'pair' Saturday and Mrs WTS is pretty sure she saw 2 females fly off Sunday. The count is creeping up :)
Haven't seen our sharpie lately.
Backyard is perking up, but poppies are a little sparse this year. Desert willow baby is leafing out slowly, but no Humbolts again :( The are doing great out at the Park, close to a foot tall. Am trying a cultivar red bloom mallow (again), maybe the seeds are not good.
What kind of bonsai were you thinking of doing?
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24. calpoppy
12:48 PM GMT on March 17, 2013
One more thing, the bonsais are really cool, especially the olive tree. I can't believe how shallow the container is!!!
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23. calpoppy
12:45 PM GMT on March 17, 2013
Our hawk took an Oriole right off the feeder last year. He ran into the window doing it, but hung on to the catch and took off. It is nesting season for the hawks right now, so our hawk hasn't been around like usual.

I bet your backyard is looking really pretty right now. The grasses are coming up around here but I have only seen the signs of one wildflower and that is a Blue Dick. They are fairly reliable here.

Did you ever get those Humbolt lilies going?

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you, I like the kitty!
Member Since: February 18, 2008 Posts: 52 Comments: 3621
22. WatchinTheSky
10:18 PM GMT on March 16, 2013
Thanks GG and BC! A new 'pet', indeed :)
I have seen the 1st hooded oriole here at the feeders (3/15, day after PI day!). 6 days later than last year, a day earlier than the year before. Have to see how new 'pet' and orioles get along. With 100s of hummers visiting, if a couple get snagged it is hard to tell. We only see 2-5 'families' of orioles, so a couple would be a big loss - especially mature females.

The orange tree blossoms are opening now, I keep finding myself walking past the tree and taking a deep breath!


Happy ST Pat's Day everyone!!

Member Since: September 20, 2005 Posts: 130 Comments: 1825
21. GardenGrrl
4:33 PM GMT on March 16, 2013
Looks like you have a new "pet". Also looks like full spring is in motion. Pretty pictures.
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20. BriarCraft
10:07 PM GMT on March 15, 2013
Oh my! Your camera is still working great. And spring has definitely arrived for you. Gotta go take a closer look at those pics now.
Member Since: June 21, 2004 Posts: 77 Comments: 3918
19. WatchinTheSky
3:08 AM GMT on March 14, 2013
SBK - that's my time frame as well! And since we lived in 29 Palms, a pretty short drive to the 'Monument'.

Starting to look like spring in the backyard.

First poppy


Chia sage


Blue eyed grass


Very excited for this one, Santa Rosa plum in bloom :))
Member Since: September 20, 2005 Posts: 130 Comments: 1825
18. SBKaren
12:04 AM GMT on March 14, 2013
Joshua Tree and 29 Palms are quite the same as before, very small town 'yesteryear' feel. I was quite surprised at Yucca Valley, much bigger and new shopping centers (Home Depot, Walmart, etc.).

I probably wouldn't recognize the place. Hubby and I used to camp at Joshua Tree a lot. This was BC (before children/before marriage - so pre 1972). We would decide spur of the moment on a Friday and just go. We'd find a spot, and back then we didn't even have a tent. We slept under the stars. I know it's changed, it gets full all the time now and I think you have to make reservations.

Last time we were there was in 1993 when we took our German foreign exchange student (and a few others) out for a tour. They love the desert as they don't have that kind of terrain in Germany.

That picture of the mountains is gorgeous and is what I think of after we have had a storm.

Yesterday and today it was fog. It just hugged the coast. It finally cleared this afternoon and we headed out for a quick bike ride through town. We took a short stroll on the pier and you could see the fog bank out at sea. Just a blanket of white sitting on top of the ocean obscuring the view of Catalina.

We didn't get as hot as inland and the fog kept a little chill in the air, but the sun felt wonderful!
Member Since: February 21, 2005 Posts: 195 Comments: 14535
17. WatchinTheSky
4:33 PM GMT on March 13, 2013
I forgot about the photos I took last Saturday at the Park! Thinking of calpoppy's new adventure :)

Quite the gnarled trunk. Do these fruit? That would be a pretty small pomegranate.


That's one small olive tree!
Member Since: September 20, 2005 Posts: 130 Comments: 1825
16. WatchinTheSky
5:13 PM GMT on March 12, 2013
Good morning BC, cp, PSP :)

I am curious to see how long the little hawk hangs around, I just read a bit more about coopers-sharpies, trying to positively tell them apart. Of course, the more I read, the more people say it is hard to tell! Definitely closer to dove size than crow, but I thick he's young. Trying to get a feel for neck, head, and leg proportion. They all seem smallish - so I am still leaning sharpie!

The finches seem a bit skiddish but still still come around. The hummers are fearless and will come to a feeder when the hawk is perched just feet away. I think when the hawk is swooping in - that's the dangerous time! I am nervous about the orioles.

An excellent day in 29 Palms, unpacking did not take long, my brother is no hoarder for sure! Although I lived there as a teen (marine brat), I had not been back for a long time. Joshua Tree and 29 Palms are quite the same as before, very small town 'yesteryear' feel. I was quite surprised at Yucca Valley, much bigger and new shopping centers (Home Depot, Walmart, etc.).

We have crows/ravens around here, naturally, and they exhibit the same behavior as yours, PSP. They will swoop down on and generally harass the red tail and red shoulder hawks that soar over our valley. I always wonder why the hawks put up with that?? Maybe a little crow for lunch ;)

Hope everyone is having a nice week!!
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15. PugetSoundPost
3:16 PM GMT on March 12, 2013
I love your mountains photo! Very pretty scene - green and snow and beautiful blue sky! Not our vision of southern Cal, usually. The bird is intriguing as well. It does seem it would be a threat to your little ones flocking around. Around here, crows go after any and all "big" birds - hawks and so on. They swoop closely around it perched high on a tree minding its own business, squaking at it the whole time, and just beret it badly till it finally leaves. I don't love this crow behavior, but they aren't asking me about it.
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14. calpoppy
2:41 PM GMT on March 12, 2013
Hi WTS! A beautiful day out in Twenty Nine Palms! I hope you can enjoy between moving things for your brother.

So you have decided it is a Sharp Shinned Hawk? I still think the ones out here are Cooper's,squared off tail. We do have a hawk out here I have yet to figure out what it is. A broad winged hawk that will go after birds also, smaller then a red-tail with a light colored breast. Hangs out on telephone poles. Now is mating season for them as now there are two on the same poles.

Nice pictures, makes me want to go on a day trip!
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13. BriarCraft
1:17 AM GMT on March 12, 2013
You've been taking some nice photos lately. We always enjoy when you get inspired.

My mother read something about hummers migrating north from Mexico/Arizona earlier than usual this year, so I put a feeder out on March 3. No sign of 'em yet. As cool as it's been in this neck of the woods, I bet they arrive right on schedule March 15±.

It'll be interesting to see what that young sharp-shinned hawk does as spring progresses. Is he old enough to look for a mate yet? Will the little birds at your feeders be scared away if he sticks around? It may be in your back yard, but it's still nature doing it's thing.
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12. WatchinTheSky
6:36 PM GMT on March 11, 2013
Sleepy this morning, but the later sunset is worth it. Anyone seeing the comet, speaking of sunset?

A little shaking this morning just before 10. Quakes were centered around Anza near Borrego and felt to the coast (barely).

On the way to 29 Palms - nice view of south side of San Bernardino mtns and low snow level (probably 2000').

Bit of a north east wind, all of the windmills on the way to Palms Springs were facing the 'wrong' way :)

I guess I am going to have to name this guy, keeps hanging around keeping an eye on 'things' =:O

Member Since: September 20, 2005 Posts: 130 Comments: 1825
11. WatchinTheSky
10:04 PM GMT on March 08, 2013
March 9 update
Storm total - 1.66" pretty good. Looks like mid upper 70s for next week by Tuesday.
Off to 29 Palms tomorrow - moving day for my brother, will be a big change from Poway.

March 8
1.3" of rain in the dark hours Thurs PM-Fri AM. A mini miracle indeed :))
Was supposed to rain all day today (not happening). Skies may clear for comet sighting this weekend, although very low in evening sky.

Supply and demand? finches increasing, nyger costs go up!! No roufus here, yet. Or orioles - soon, I hope!

Should know tomorrow about the balloon ride being operational, should be nice and clean from the rain! 3 hummers at once, nice! I have chats with my daughter up the coast a bit in Laguna Nigel and her one feeder and one or two hummers she gets.

Almost Daylight saving Time!!!
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10. PugetSoundPost
5:21 AM GMT on March 08, 2013
I'm glad the balloon sounds pretty secure and safe! Should be great fun for the riders.

Looks like a pretty stormy day ahead for you folks! I hope you get a good soaking of rain. Since the rain is down south, we are now hoping for some "promised" sunshine over the next couple of days. But a very wet pattern is lining up for next week. Ahhh...

This evening shortly before dark we noticed TWO hummingbirds at our feeder, sitting so nicely together for a couple of minutes!! A third one was out in the trees, nearly came in for a landing, while the other two stayed put, but in the end we never did get the three to sit together on the feeder. The chasing began. But it was nearly a miracle to see the two sitting there for SO LONG! I thought of you with the dozens around at once and so many feeding together. Maybe our birds need more sunshine to feel friendlier!
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9. calpoppy
9:09 PM GMT on March 07, 2013
Rufus hummingbird at the feeder, goldfinch count going up, along with nyger prices, lol!
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8. sp34n119w
8:13 PM GMT on March 06, 2013
Lovely portrait of the hawk! Sorry for the littler birdies but that is the circle of life. I feel sorry for cows, too, lol.

I hope you keep us updated on the balloon rides. Now that I know they are tethered I'm thinking it would be a nice treat for my mom.

Sky and Telescope has some features on the comets, specifically PanSTARRS, and it's looking pretty good for us in SoCal.

No rain, yet. Look at the big water vapor loop, though - is that brilliant orange the bit that supposed to hit on Friday? If that holds together, and the aim is true, it could be at least a mini-miracle!
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7. SBKaren
12:51 AM GMT on March 06, 2013
I think the smallest frogs can have the loudest voices. I believe that completely from experience.

It sure cooled down today and lots and lots of clouds. Maybe we'll get more than a sprinkle. Some day soon I'm going to have to get the car washed again......some day when we don't have rain in the too near distant future!
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6. WatchinTheSky
3:09 AM GMT on March 05, 2013
Hey SBK - watch out for errant balloons on your walk!! Yes, maybe rain coming - I hope so!

Here's the latest photo of the 'sharp shinned' hawk who seems convinced the backyard is a snack bar... He has been hanging out for 2 months now.


I finally went next door to get a look at the super loud frogs. They must be giant, I'm sure! Here's a pic, they are small but SO LOUD! Except when I tried to sneak up and get a photo :)
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5. SBKaren
11:31 PM GMT on March 04, 2013
Well, it's just a hot air balloon kind of day for me. I'm reading a book where they are going to have a hot air balloon festival, then I sit in the dentist chair with a hot air balloon for me to look at on the ceiling, and then I come here. They say things come in 3s?? Well then, this should be it.

Weather has been quite nice, but I don't know about this rain.....doesn't sound good. Off for an afternoon walk!
Member Since: February 21, 2005 Posts: 195 Comments: 14535
4. WatchinTheSky
11:02 PM GMT on March 04, 2013
Hi PSP! The balloon is tethered on a very study steel cable, so no floating around ;) An interesting note - there is a trained hot air balloon pilot in the basket (well, there was last time it was operating, do not know for sure about now, yet)(in case the very robust cable were to break) able to land the balloon if needed. It's filled with helium, so no fire danger. It's possible we may get some of your wonderful rain by Friday, if not, we may have to trade!!

Hi cp! I like the new avi! Though I was just about to post a new puffin photo I came across. Yes, the nyger is 2x what sugar costs, and there is no cutting 4x with water!! But there are only 2 feeders (NOT getting more!) but there is quite the pile of husks on the ground below the sock! The first oriole, nice! I have not seen or heard one yet, but should be soon. I am eyeing the oriole feeders and thinking I need to clean them up also :)

Hi BC! Old habits and all, often enough it is The Wild Animal Park. Of course, it is all about branding, and I get it. So while on the 'job', it's San Diego Zoo Safari Park - whew again! Actually, 'The Park' has a nice ring and that works for both :)
I think that is a nice view, as well. I have missed seeing the balloon on the weekends as we sit out in the backyard.
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3. BriarCraft
9:13 PM GMT on March 04, 2013
The finch feeding frenzy quieted down quite a bit here in February. Now I know where they went! Oh, there are some here still. The pine siskins are mostly gone and some house finches have arrived. The goldfinches are here one day, gone the next, then back again. This time of year, they seem to have more on their minds than just thistle seed.

That's a nice view of the San Pasqual valley. So do you volunteers actually call it the Safari Park when you're talking to each other? Or is it still simply the Wild Animal Park?
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2. calpoppy
5:57 PM GMT on March 03, 2013
I am jealous of your finches! Or, wait maybe not! Nyger is a little pricey, okay I am fine with mine 6 or 8 goldfinches.

They are beautiful on your feeders, they will compliment the Orioles when they arrive. Speaking of Orioles, I heard my first one this morning when I was walking with the pups. First thing back in the cabin was the making of sugar water and the sterilization of their old feeder.

What a difference a day makes, yesterday 74 degrees today 60 with a cool wind blowing!
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1. PugetSoundPost
7:05 AM GMT on March 03, 2013
Ahh, First! I'm glad I got in!

Does the balloon just go up and down on a wire? Or do you actually float along? Sure hope it is safe, with all the recent balloon disaster news!

Yes, you need just a few more finches!! This amount won't give you much interest to watch! lol! Wow, I can't really get any birds to come to our sock feeder. Once in awhile a bird lands on it. Not enough to make it worthwhile.

A nice rainy night tonight. The most rain in one day in quite awhile - just about a half inch so far. At noon we were just below 60 degrees and by late afternoon we were at 42. Upper 30's now. A cold front really gave us a dynamic day, plus the rain, gave a nice change from a LOT of gray but very dull days. Your 80's sound nice about now. We each should trade places for a week!
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Observations and occasional comments about San Diego county weather