Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer continues to be relatively mild, certainly compared to last year but Aug/Sept yet to come and then things could seriously heat up. The Thunderheads are beginning to show up in the afternoons and the mornings are tending to be pretty humid. I have always loved to see the great Thunderheads build over the mountains; they are so majestic. Here’s one from the other day.

I am coming to Ukiah in September. I will be giving a lecture on the results of my studies and what the future portends for our North Pacific Humpbacks on the 9th. This will be a fund raiser so anyone who you think might be interested I would sure appreciate the support.

The fox that I mentioned in a previous post I have identified as a Grey Fox, Urocyon cinereoargenteus. This genus has only two surviving members, The Grey Fox and The Island Fox. Using DNA studies it has been determined that this genus is one of the primal members of The Canid Family, showing up shortly after The Wolf (the most primal Canid). I hope to get a photo of it one day but for now here’s what they look like. You can see why they are often mistaken for a coyote.

As long as I am on animals right now here’s a shot of a snake that came by the palapa yesterday while I was visiting with my amigo Vicente. It is a Baja California Striped Whipsnake and like all snakes a joy to behold. Before The Judeo-Christians vilified it as a representative of Satan, the snake was seen as the animal most connected to the Earth and a positive omen whenever seen. I’m going with that! Check out that face.

Saw my first scorpion in a long time the other day, fortunately not in my bed or shorts.

Still have not seen the full on migration of The Dragonflies. It would be so interesting if it actually starts on the very day it began last year.

I was also treated to swimming with a couple of Panamanic Green Morays the other day. Boy are they fun to watch.

Touching once again on Paganism here is the recent addition to my Pagan Symbols collection. I really love painting these. Concentration, discipline and color…..great fun! I also believe that while painting them some of their power and energy is retained by my body.

This is an African symbol called an Adinkra. This one is from The Asante People of West Africa and is called “Aya” (Fern).

Aya is a symbol of endurance and resourcefulness
The fern is a hardy plant that can grow in difficult places. "An individual who wears this symbol suggests that he has endured many adversities and outlasted much difficulty."

How about this for a somewhat more high tech symbol. Just something to think about….carefully.

And some new friends, Nick and “J” (Jacinda) from London with there two little cuties, Clover on Nick's arm, and Matilda on the move. They are on their way to resettling in Australia. J had a special birthday the other day when she solo kayaked out to The Whale Zone and was visited by Mobulas, Dolphins and a Sea Turtle. How cool is that?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Woke up this morning to the first “restless” day. No, not me being restless, but the weather. Restless to me means undecided, dark, loaded with potential and filled with raw energy. There was a small squall that passed by yesterday morning so I kayaked out to take a closer look. It was too far away to be of any threat to me but close enough so that I could feel it’s presence, hear the thunder within it, and see the flashes of lightening illuminating it’s clouds…. ah, nature, nothing, absolutely nothing, like it. This morning there was even more “restless” energy. It is now 10:00 am and the Sea is forming white caps and I can again feel the potential. I have been here long enough now to read this as just a minor passing “tempesta” (storm) but it signifies the coming seasonal climate change. I do love to see Mother Earth and Father Sky do there dance!!

Speaking of dancing I sent the picture below to National Geographic’s “Your Shot” program.

I took this in 1992 on The Island of Innisfallen on Lough Le'in (modern Leane, meaning Lake of Learning) near Killarney, Ireland. I was investigating an ancient Monastery (Innisfallen Abby circa 7th century and perhaps Irelands first University), thinking I was the only person on the Island. I heard this Faire like laughter coming from one of the rooms and happened upon this young girl twirling about while singing and laughing. I don’t think I have ever heard such a beautiful, ethereal sound or witnessed such a heart-warming sight. I got this shot without her ever knowing I was there. I have no idea who she was but I later saw her with her parents leaving the island on a small boat. Until that moment I had almost convinced myself that she had been an apparition or maybe a Faire. She was a gift.
Since writing this on the 16th, today being the 19th, it has indeed been chosen as one of today's "Daily Dozen" in their "Your Shot" program. To see it on their site go to: ngm.nationalgeographicmagazine.com/myshot/. Each month one of the "daily dozen" is chosen to be included in the next issue of ngm. If anyone sees it, please let me know.

As long as I am showing some pictures here’s the latest of my Pagan Pictographs.

This is undoubtedly familiar to many if not most of you and it happens to be one of my favorites. This is a symbol that represents the essence of The Native American Medicine Wheel. Various traditions use different colors (red instead of yellow for East, yellow or green for south instead of red, blue for west instead of black, north pretty much always white) the ones I used are those used by The Huichol of Mexico and a number of other North American Peoples. The symbol’s origin is very ancient, most likely predating the entrance of The Native American into The Western Hemisphere (+ or – 20-22,000 BP) and possibly even used by late Homo erectus peoples as early as 200,000 BP. It is a symbol that is also shared by just about all primal peoples throughout the world; possibly one of the three earliest symbols of human’s emerging awareness. Very basically it represents the Cyclical Nature of Existence and The Inherent Energies of The Four Cardinal Directions. Different traditions have different ways of interpreting The Medicine Wheel but the “essence” is the same. I heartily recommend to everyone to at the very least google it and let your spirit be lifted.

I was premature in my suggesting that The Great Dragon Fly Migration has begun. They are here, and in good numbers but I don’t see them all moving north in the constant flow of last year. I think that within the next 2 weeks however it will begin. They are by the way, Red Skimmers. When the sun shines through their wings at just the right angle it is breath taking. Like crystal clear rubies with fine deeper red etchings all over them….a sight to see!

A Red Skimmer, not my photo

My Red Ant friends are here but have not yet begun their march in front of me under my palapa. I became enamored of them last year about this time when I saw how happy they were to receive the flys I swatted and flipped in their path while sitting here (that’s where I am writing from right now).

I have been writing for ½ hour now and the wind has picked up a bit. I think we have a good afternoon blow coming (12-14 knots). Again nothing serious but we have had very little wind for the past month. Everyone is anticipating a rain soon. If we get three good days of rain it is considered to be sufficient for the year. Seeing the desert bloom during that time is awesome (and I mean the REAL awesome).

Due to a reawakened enjoyment in watching movies (friend's CDs) I have recognized a basic truth….TV is indeed very, very bad for the human race. I do not mean this in any jest; it is plain bad, bad, bad. Now that does not mean I will stop watching when I feel like it or suggest you do, but the overall effect of that constant kind of stimulation is really messing with the brains of our children and the brains of our less discriminating (kindest way I can put this) adults. Without question TV draws us away from our relationship with nature. As immersed as I am in Nature, I nevertheless am “over stimulated and distracted” from being “connected” when I watch television. If that is the case for me, a biologist living in a paradise of nature, what must it be like for a child watching TV 6-8 hrs/day? Frightening, truly frightening. Read to your children (grandchildren for many of you) the works of Loren Eisley, Jane Goodall or any number of other naturalists and give them something REAL to identify with. Of course the nature shows aren't bad but that is still not REAL!

I just looked up to see The Red Ants are on the move, they are back and passing by my way again….how cool!! Now my fly swatting will take on a much greater significance. The ants are soooo important to the planet.

A short while back I was concerned, as were my doctors, about my physical health. I chose to surrender to the Healing Forces within and without me. I'm feeling pretty damn good!


Monday, July 12, 2010

So far it has been an incredibly beautiful summer. We have only had a week altogether of what could be called hot weather. It is just about perfect. No winds to speak of, every day a kayaking day and no major jellyfish action. Swimming laps therefore, is delightful; I’m up to 30 now and that’s as good as I’ve done (with regularity) in 20 years. Speaking of kayaking check out this shot of a dentist, a Doctor Richard Kraft of Sitka, Alaska, with a Humpback coming up right under him while the whale was feeding. No harm done according to the doctor!

I saw the most beautiful fox yesterday at sunset hunting along my fence line. I couldn’t get a shot of him because as soon as I moved he was gone. Really sleek looking with a long bushy tail and considerably bigger than the foxes I’m used to seeing in The States. I think I may have seen him before.

I did get a picture of yet another Iguana/Lizard (?) on the property. This one has taken up residence in one of the cacti. He got curious when I accidentally sprayed his home with the hose.

It is good sized so I’m leaning toward identifying it as another Spiny Tailed Iguana (it also has the classic tail) but I’m going to have to get a better look.

Biggest adventure for me this past week was going in to San Jose del Cabo and staying two nights at the Grand Mayan Hotel.

This was a gift from John Schaeffer and Nancy Hensley and I made the most of it. I had a room with my own small pool on the balcony, tub in the bedroom, two TVs, full kitchen….what fun! I took advantage of ALL the amenities, beach, pool(s), spa, hot tubs and a buffet dinner that was outstanding. I did of course eat too much and suffered later but while I was eating it was heavenly, and worth it. I also went into San Jose Centro and heard a really good Mexican band playing in The Square (one of my favorite places down here) and stopped for some pastries and fresh bread at The French Bakery nearby before leaving.

Nicest of all I made some new friends. In order of their appearance in my life: Jesus who helped me with my bags, Ramily at the jewelry store in the hotel, Marcelina who runs the spa and Fernanda and “Mack” also at the jewelry store. They were real sweet to me and very interested in my whale work.

All together a great change of pace for me, good for the blood. It also reminded me of the incredible life I lead here in little El Cardonal.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

It’s a rare day here in El Cardonal; overcast and cool, reminds me of a summers day in San Francisco. It is very pleasant and great for drinking hot chocolate and doing some writing. I have pretty much disregarded my personal journal due to the writing I do here in this blog and in my Nature Journal, which is too bad but I think my kids will be able to figure it all out (my doings here) one day. By the way, here are a couple of recent pictures of them. The first is of my daughter Kersti and her husband Bill, the second my son Zack. The 3rd picture is of the three of us in the desert near my place in 2001.

Kersti & Bill


Me & The Kids

Last year I wrote about this incredible Dragon Fly migration that passed through here in late July; literally hundreds of thousands of them passing in a day’s time. I noted the exact date when they were in greatest numbers as July 24-25th. I have been keeping an eye out for them again to see if I could spot the vanguard for this year’s migration. Well I did. They started coming by on the 29th of June. Now that’s almost a month before last year….however, this is just the vanguard so I am not drawing any conclusions yet. Last year I may easily have missed the vanguard simply not knowing it was happening. So we will see if indeed the massive move will be about the same time of year. In natures migration cycles a difference of a couple of weeks can be a significant indicator of change. Not necessarily bad….just change. The picture below was caught in mid flight by just pointing at a group going by (they NEVER alight anywhere) and shooting, LUCKY SHOT! As I stated last year it is a breeding thing. Just google dragon fly migration if you want more info.

A Red Skimmer I think!

I almost sailed off to the Pacific this week. I considered signing on as a crew member on The Schooner "Talofa" for a run from La Paz to The Channel Islands. I got real excited about it for a while and then realized how very important my space and time has become to me, not to mention my physical capacity for hauling lines, and I copped out. If I can’t carry my weight as a crewman I don’t want to be part of the journey. In 1998 I made the passage to Hawaii from San Francisco as a crew member on The Schooner "Dariabar" and it taught me a great deal about the ethos of being a sailor…..and my capacities. I am sure it will be a glorious sail and I may have missed a really special opportunity but it is what it is and there are some things I just have to let go, eh?

Brigantine rigged tallship "Talofa" 100'

Staysail rigged schooner "Dariabar" 84'

The other day I went out to The WZ again, it was incredibly flat, to see what might be passing by. My first visitor was a California Sea Lion but he was on a mission and only stopped for a short hello and was off again. It was so quiet out there that I lay back in my kayak and closed my eyes, enjoying the moment. Then I thought I heard a couple of small blows. Not anywhere loud and/or strong enough to be whales but maybe dolphins. I looked all around but saw nothing. Then I figured I was mistaken but then heard it again. No question…..dolphins but where? I kept hearing them and getting a little louder but couldn’t see them anywhere. I put on my mask and fins and hoped I would locate them soon enough to make an intercept. I finally saw them and indeed they were coming right my way. I rolled in and swam towards them and I saw that they were Pacific Common Dolphins. I went under but they passed beneath me and the visibility was not all that good so no encounter. But I sure get off on the rush of rolling in, being in the Sea with them nearby and just BEING. I love this Sea of Cortez, it’s a real home to me in every way.
Being fired up like I was I decided to do my laps from about ¼ mile out and over the reef….always something cool to see there! Lucked out again. A big beautiful Sea Turtle swimming right under me, checking me out and then moving on. I am doing all my lap swimming with my mask on now, whether across the reef or along the shoreline, so many things to see.
The other day while doing laps alongside the shore I swam over a low overhanging ledge and I spotted these weird looking antennae sticking out . I stopped for a closer look and it was the biggest lobster I have ever seen. I mean he was huge. I couldn’t make out his whole body but he had to have been 18”-20” long. That’s big for around here anymore. I don’t kill critters, well besides feral cats, so I’m hoping nobody else spots him.

John Schaeffer sent this video and I highly recommend it to all, especially if you are fascinated by NATURE, it is truly beautiful and so instructive. http://vimeo.com/9953368
John Schaeffer sends the coolest stuff!!! Thank you John.

Oh here’s something. I just started watching the series LOST again. I haven’t seen the final season so no hints please. The point is this; I need the whole series 2,3 and 4…especially 4 because I missed that entirely! I have 1 & 5 and I’ll just wait on 6 till it’s easily available. If you have them, or any one of them, and could spare them please let me know (ukaldveer@gmail.com) and we’ll figure out a way to get them to me.

Here’s a picture for my dear friend Dolores Toivonen in redwood Valley. It’s a Verdin, pretty rare up your way but a common and appreciated visitor in my yard.

These guys went by the other day reminding me of the “other” reality.

Mexican Navy Patrol Boat

This is a shot of this year’s forward observation post for whale spotting. We’ll see how it looks after the hurricane season.

Actually looks like the hurricane already came, eh?

And the last pic, the blossom of an Ocotillo Cactus….extraordinary no?

It's the RED man!