Summer is here

By: WatchinTheSky , 9:04 PM GMT on April 28, 2012

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June 9th Another nice Saturday at The Park (wink to BC) and a photo of the latest critters. Cute, but they're going to eat our plants, I know it!


Lovely day, spent some quality time at the SDZOO Safari Park this morning. Some bonus entertainment this morning during and after volunteer work. Close to the end of the 'shift', we caught a glimpse of a family of long tail weasels playing tag around the rocks and sage. This guy was caught in mid air!

They were surprisingly tolerant of our proximity and put on a show for several minutes.

As we were hiking to the cars - this guy crossed our path. About 4 feet long, in no hurry, heading to the
creek, hopefully on the prowl for rats or gophers!


Back to the weather, the storm is gone leaving sunny days and high temps in the mid 70s and 1/4 inch of rain in its wake. Weather folks were saying .5 to 1", but it is late April and that would be unusual. Looked like from the radar that maybe SBK got a lot more. We are at 10.8" for the rain season this year - about 2/3s of normal and not likely to get any more until the late summer monsoon (disappointing last summer).

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29. BriarCraft
11:35 PM GMT on June 27, 2012
I wonder, does the tortoise even know he's got a hitchhiker?

That's a great shot and those sun buddies are precious together.
Member Since: June 21, 2004 Posts: 70 Comments: 3569
28. WatchinTheSky
9:38 PM GMT on June 27, 2012
They are both about 6 inches, nose to tail. That's all the bigger they both will get. I thought it was a juvenile when I first saw him but his shell is worn with age. Have not thought about giving the tortoises desert willow, might try when I am trimming. Their area gets some shade from trumpet vines (that they don't favor) and that is what is in the photo.

Heat is coming for sure, this week is supposed to stay in the 80s then cool to low 80s next week, hope so! Not envious of all the 100s showing up around the rest of the country :)
Member Since: September 20, 2005 Posts: 126 Comments: 1619
27. calpoppy
10:08 PM GMT on June 26, 2012
Either that lizard is huge or the tortoise is small, LOL!! Neat picture! Do you feed them desert willows?

I think we will be starting to cook here very soon, as I see over 100 degrees coming for at least in my neck of the woods. Yech!!!!
Member Since: February 18, 2008 Posts: 47 Comments: 3314
26. WatchinTheSky
9:51 PM GMT on June 25, 2012
Finally some time in on the side yard Sunday morning, prep work for tortoise sitting for my sister as she and her youngest, now a senior in high school, go off to Europe on a singing/seeing tour (just a bit jealous!). Install some new sod (a good part of diet for the Cal desert tortoises). Now that the weather is warming a bit and the sun is regularly out in the morning, the tortoises often come out of their houses early AM and bask. Little did I expect they had sun buddies.

This is a little Russian tortoise I 'inherited' from neighbors across the street who have dogs (not a good match) and who knew I had a few tortoises. His sun buddy is a western fence lizard, one of the two common types we have running around.
Member Since: September 20, 2005 Posts: 126 Comments: 1619
25. WatchinTheSky
11:06 PM GMT on June 22, 2012
Hi BC, sp, PSP, SBK, cal!
Thanks for checking in and making sure I have not fallen down some hole or something :)

BC has it just right (although you are making me feel bad!), I have been very busy at work, to the detriment of a few things :( If you have to work, it's good to be busy, I guess. I will be back your blog soon to peruse more thoroughly your great pics of the last trip!

SBK, we have the same morning gray as you, and nice afternoons, the heat up sp hinted at has not reached us yet. The eclipses lately have fired me up about doing more sky watchin and I got a phone app that tracks 'Iridium Flares'. I hadn't heard of them before a few months ago - the Iridium satellite array is in fairly low orbit, occasionally one will be in position to reflect either evening or morning sun in the dark sky, sometimes quite brightly. Tomorrow night around 10 is a nice one -7.1 mag in the eastern sky. There was a nice one last week that was 'fogged out'.

PSP - Nice that the weather there is enjoyable, this has been a very nice late spring here - back patio is getting a lot of use at dinnertime! Hope all continues to progress smoothly on the wedding front. We got to 'help out' next door neighbors with 2 weddings last year, there is lots to do.

Interviewing for new employees and job scheduling is wearing me out, looking forward to next week getting back close to 'normal' and catching up with WUfriends, getting my weathercams back online, etc...
Member Since: September 20, 2005 Posts: 126 Comments: 1619
24. BriarCraft
8:29 PM GMT on June 21, 2012
Earth to WTS. Come in please...

hope life is treating you well and it's just that you're busy...
Member Since: June 21, 2004 Posts: 70 Comments: 3569
23. SBKaren
3:09 PM GMT on June 21, 2012
Good Morning WTS - how has your summer been going? We have started every morning with the gloom, but it has cleared to bright sunny skies every time. So far, very delightful with no complaints from me. If you know, I can put up quite the whine with the marine layer! LOL

Cool picture with the Venus transit. Best picture I've seen!
Member Since: February 21, 2005 Posts: 195 Comments: 14509
22. PugetSoundPost
1:44 PM GMT on June 21, 2012
Hi WTS! How are things in your neck of the woods? Looks like a pleasant forecast - morning marine layer or fog followed by afternoon sun? We are having two days of summer, and this is Day 2. Rain returns tomorrow. When the sun is out it sure makes a wonderful difference, given that now it is "summer"!

Life has settled down just a tad here - all the graduates have graduated, finishing Tuesday evening, with a few other events behind us now too, and nothing else "big" is on the calendar in the near term. But it is far from "quiet" - still a busy household and lots of wedding work ahead, also among other things. But it is nice to take a breath now and enjoy a cup of coffee this morning as the sun shines outside! Ahhh!
Member Since: October 8, 2001 Posts: 168 Comments: 797
21. calpoppy
3:56 PM GMT on June 17, 2012
Happy Father's Day, WTS
Member Since: February 18, 2008 Posts: 47 Comments: 3314
20. calpoppy
7:47 PM GMT on June 12, 2012
Hi WTS! That was a cool setup for the transit. Cute fawn too!!! Wanted to stop by and tell you what a great tasting tomato sungold is. Thanks for putting me on to that one!!!!!!
Member Since: February 18, 2008 Posts: 47 Comments: 3314
19. sp34n119w
5:24 AM GMT on June 11, 2012
Er, actually, the Earth spins quickly about its axis ;)
Sorry.

That's a really cool setup and I'm jealous. Great pic, too!
And the fawn is adorable. You won't begrudge its mom a little snack, surely.
I've just looked back and realized I hadn't commented in this blog - though I know I've enjoyed all the photos and saw the one of you acting the snake handler.

I guess most of Southern Cal is in for a warmup. You'd think it was summer. Enjoy :)
Member Since: January 27, 2007 Posts: 80 Comments: 4251
18. BriarCraft
8:15 PM GMT on June 10, 2012
The one thing, well two things actually, you said really surprised me. First was the distance from the mirror to the paper-in-the-box setup. Second was the source of the mirror. Pretty ingenious, if I do say so. Not too many people likely to duplicate that one -- lasers like you're talking about are not exactly commonplace. I wonder if the mirror in an old, battered kid's telescope (which, in theory, could be pretty cheap) might work.

And, wonder-of-wonders, I just happening to be taking a break from doing a bit of weed-whacking. Not the serious, climb-down-in-a ditch sort of weed-whacking, but along a fence, around trees where the mower won't reach, that sort of thing. DH, my other, non-gimpy half is gone for the day and I wasn't sure if I could get that Stihl machine started, but I did without too much difficulty. Biggest problem was finding a place to set it where I could hold it down while pulling the cord without bending too far. Anyway, I'm taking it slow and going well on level ground. Having fun!
Member Since: June 21, 2004 Posts: 70 Comments: 3569
17. WatchinTheSky
7:15 PM GMT on June 10, 2012
Hi BC! You are pretty much right on track :) It was photo paper like you would buy for your printer. I taped it on the inside bottom of a 'banker's box' and set the box on its side for a darker environment. Next time maybe a bigger box with black insides.
The mirror has its face to the sun and the photo paper viewing screen had its back to the sun and the sun-mirror-paper made an acute angle.
Where as the pin hole image was about 1 inch in diameter, the mirror image was 6-7 inches and much brighter as well. The curve of the mirror is important for for reflecting an in-focus image at a distance from the mirror. The lasers I use at work have one to two of these, depending on the power level, so I borrowed one! It was clamped at the edges by a 'hobby vise' with rubber pads. It had a swivel base for easy readjustment of the angle (since the sun moves surprisingly quickly across the sky, well OK, the earth moves quickly around the sun - whatever!)
I need to do a little testing with various curvature mirrors to see if there is a better more wallet friendly setup. The paper needs to be a distance away from the mirror about equal to the radius of the curve on the mirror, but optical theory is not my strong suit and I lucked into a good viewing arrangement the first time. The mirror had a 20 meter radius curve (that's pretty flat!) and was about 17 paces from the paper, not quite 20 meters. These mirrors are around $100, not very cheap.
I'll let you know if I come up with a nicer setup. It's fun and easy to do - Science!
I have really been distracted with backyard projects and work so WUland has been on back burner and have not checked in with WUfriends for a while :(
Are you biking, jogging yet? Seriously, Hope you are continuing a full and pleasant recovery!
Member Since: September 20, 2005 Posts: 126 Comments: 1619
16. BriarCraft
11:36 PM GMT on June 08, 2012
Okay, so I admit I'm an astrological dummy, but I'm intrigued. It doesn't make sense that you could be doing this all in a line, so the mirror is pointing a reflection off to the side somewhere? And by photo paper, are you talking about the glossy white paper you get at the office supply store and put in your inkjet printer or something more exotic? And, and, and... Where does one get such a mirror as you described? And how do you hold it in position?

What I don't know could fill volumes, but I figure if a weasel-watchin' gopher snake wranglin' sky watchin' gardener such as yerself can do it, well heckallujah, so might I. So if/when you're in the mood, maybe you could er, uh, ...?
Member Since: June 21, 2004 Posts: 70 Comments: 3569
15. WatchinTheSky
4:45 AM GMT on June 06, 2012
Hi BC! did it work? or is it further ingrained!? That's one the more memorable Chicago tunes for me.

A couple weeks ago - an annular solar eclipse, now the Venus Transit! Here is a photo from cell phone in the backyard. I used a one inch mirror with a 20 meter radius curvature to reflect the image onto photo paper. I should have thought of it for the eclipse, it works pretty well, better that a pin hole. Boy am I ready for the next one!

There was a bit bit of atmospheric shake, so the image was not really sharp. Occasionally, the shake would stop and the sun spots were easily visible! Just not when I took a photo :(
Member Since: September 20, 2005 Posts: 126 Comments: 1619
14. BriarCraft
5:53 PM GMT on June 01, 2012
I keep reading in the WUblogs about a tiger loose somewhere in Washington, but I haven't heard anything about it in the news. I do know there are some idiots out there who keep them in private compounds as "pets". Maybe one of those got loose. Probably didn't eat anyone or I'm sure I would have heard something.

Every time you talk about Saturday in the Park, a snippet of this tune runs through my head in a loop. I figure the only way to get it out is to hear it all the way through. Hope you don't mind.

Member Since: June 21, 2004 Posts: 70 Comments: 3569
13. WatchinTheSky
8:24 PM GMT on May 25, 2012
Hi BC and SBK! Spots! I've got spots in my eyes! Not really, of course - but the eclipse was fun.

What's this I hear about a tiger running around in Washington?

Hope everyone has a nice holiday weekend :)

Forgot I had these photos from last Saturday at the Park. Yerba mansa and matilaja poppies blooming.


Member Since: September 20, 2005 Posts: 126 Comments: 1619
12. SBKaren
1:42 AM GMT on May 24, 2012
Glad you got to at least see a 'shadow' of the eclipse. I sent in a photo to CBS Channel 2 and they aired it on Tuesday, when I wasn't watching....darn!

The weather has been nice, but it sounds like Friday and Saturday are going to be a washout- of course, my brother is coming in to town for those days! Oh well - I always tell everyone - with May you are taking your chances!
Member Since: February 21, 2005 Posts: 195 Comments: 14509
11. BriarCraft
8:22 PM GMT on May 23, 2012
It may not be as spectacular as watching the eclipse straight-on, but the good news is you're still able to see!

It was too rainy here to see the eclipse, and with a couple of squalls that blew through with heavy, dark clouds, I wasn't even sure when it happened.
Member Since: June 21, 2004 Posts: 70 Comments: 3569
10. WatchinTheSky
10:04 PM GMT on May 21, 2012
Got home Sunday in just about enough time to prepare for the annular eclipse. Without proper optical protection, it's time for the pin hole!

Here is a Link to our view of eclipse at 6:40 PM.

Next time!

Member Since: September 20, 2005 Posts: 126 Comments: 1619
9. PugetSoundPost
12:36 AM GMT on May 21, 2012
Hi! Your weather looks like it is very lovely right now. Not too super hot, according to the forecast anyway, and yet feeling summery, it seems.

Right now the eclipse is underway for us, but we couldn't tell by looking. Heavy overcast and lightly raining right now, and only 57. Too bad, as the eclipse would be quite good.

Even though the weather isn't so great right now, and will be likely worse tomorrow and into the week, overall May has been a nice one for us. Warmer and more sun than we have been used to.

Life is starting to roll faster and faster for us. This is always a busy time of year with school ending for the kids, and this is our last "big ending", with our youngest child graduating from high school in a few weeks. But before that, we have college graduations and much more coming very soon. Not much time to ponder the weather too heavily in the coming weeks! Thanks for the Mother's Day flower too! Wow, already a week ago! Time is flying by...
Member Since: October 8, 2001 Posts: 168 Comments: 797
8. SBKaren
12:25 AM GMT on May 15, 2012
EWwwwwwwwwwwwwww snakes - I'm just not a snake person. I have run across a few in my lifetime, but I'm just not a snake person. I need something with fur!

Today was the best day out of the last week. No morning overcast and just a gorgeous day!

Member Since: February 21, 2005 Posts: 195 Comments: 14509
7. BriarCraft
7:28 PM GMT on May 14, 2012
The first and only time I saw a large gopher snake was as a kid. In our yard. My mother saw it and screamed so loud a neighbor came to investigate. Mom thought it was a diamond back rattler that had somehow lost its rattle. The neighbor did as you and carried him off to a less disturbing location. The snake did bite his glove, but of course, no poison, just teeth.

Keep an eye out for those weasels -- a real treat for a hard-working volunteer gardener.
Member Since: June 21, 2004 Posts: 70 Comments: 3569
6. calpoppy
7:03 PM GMT on May 14, 2012
Ahhh, the snake charmer!!! Gotta love gopher snakes, they do a great job. Except for the time I saw one get an white tailed antelope ground squirrel (like shorts) that broke my heart. :((

I hope Mrs. WTS had a wonderful Mother's Day!!!
Member Since: February 18, 2008 Posts: 47 Comments: 3314
5. WatchinTheSky
12:54 AM GMT on May 14, 2012
Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms! Somewhat in honor of the day, I have been reading (well, listening to) Jailed for Freedom by Doris Stevens. Really disturbing, so far.

On a lighter note - this guy has visited 2 Saturdays in a row while we were 'working' at the Safari Park. We are going to have to name him if he keeps showing up!
Member Since: September 20, 2005 Posts: 126 Comments: 1619
4. WatchinTheSky
9:36 PM GMT on May 04, 2012
Hey BC! I had only caught a quick glimpse of one 5-6 years ago, still at the Park and with in a few yards of this sighting. At the time, someone thought it might be a Black Footed Ferret. Recent online info is favoring Long Tail Weasel - both photo and verbal descriptions. Will leave it to someone else to decide :)
Am hoping to see them tomorrow, not holding my breathe.
Looks like a bit of a break in our June Gloom.
Member Since: September 20, 2005 Posts: 126 Comments: 1619
3. BriarCraft
8:18 PM GMT on May 04, 2012
Leaping Long Tails!

Did some checking and found that these little guys are native to much of North and Central America, but I've never seen one in the wild. Places like the Safari Park, aka Wild Animal Park provide wonderful habitat for native species.

Just wondering, have you seen long tail weasels before? That was really special they let you watch their play time. They fit on the Awwwww!-cuteness scale right along with meerkats at about a 9.8.
Member Since: June 21, 2004 Posts: 70 Comments: 3569
2. WatchinTheSky
4:34 PM GMT on April 30, 2012
Hi calpoppy! Have at it! I was surprised to see I got him in the air. I had left the settings on my camera in some odd state and was fumbling to reset them since I did not think I had much time. Indeed, I did not. The gopher snake was a good reminder to start being on the look out for rattlers, lots of hiding places in the garden at the Park.
Good week to you too!
Member Since: September 20, 2005 Posts: 126 Comments: 1619
1. calpoppy
8:15 PM GMT on April 29, 2012
At least you got rain! We had some sprinkles and that was that.

How cool to see the weasels!!! With your permission I would like to play with that picture a little bit. To make the weasel stand out more.

Your Desert willow seedlings look great! Mine are starting to get their true leaves now.

I guess I should start watching out for snakes now. It is so nice in the winter not to have to worry about them.

Have a good week!!!
Member Since: February 18, 2008 Posts: 47 Comments: 3314

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About WatchinTheSky

Observations and occasional comments about San Diego county weather