Bears are not known as being the most active creatures in zoo environments. They may wander around sniffing for food or take a dip but they are just as likely to be sleeping as anything. Getting some more activity is, therefore, a reason for some celebration. The reason was that the enclosure had two Grizzlies that are brothers. Put two tough brothers together and guess what happens. They start fighting.
Nothing dramatic. None of this was serious. Just the sort of sparring that boys will do if no one stops them. Of course, they do fight behind some branches so you don’t have quite as clear a view as would be ideal. Even so, watching them wrestle and bare their teeth at each other was a lot of fun.
Go to any zoo and, if there is a gorilla enclosure, you will find a lot of people. I suspect there are many reasons why people like gorillas but the similarity they have to us is probably one of the big ones. The hierarchy of their groups is also interesting and so it proved to be while we were in San Diego. One male seemed to be testing how much of the enclosure he could control. He would sit quietly in one spot for a while and the other male would find a spot to hang out somewhere out of the way.
Then the prime would decide to move. Surprisingly enough, he would always go roughly where the other male was. He would make himself scarce. He might then sneak around the back in the diction of the spot the prime had previously been. I think you can guess what happened next. This game went on for quite a while – longer than I was prepared to watch it.
Needless to say, if you are looking for similarities between gorillas and humans, go for the intimidation and pettiness elements. You should see some close parallels. It is hard to see which one is more advanced in that case!
Plenty of wildlife shots make their way on to this blog. However, the ones that get the most responses are those that involve baby animals. The cuteness factor usually does the trick. Today we shall combine a creature that is not usually known for being cute (although I do find them fascinating) with the baby element to see what results. Is a baby hippo cute?
If the responses of the visitors to San Diego Zoo are anything to go by, definitely. This baby was really very young. It was in the enclosure with its mum and the mother was teaching it to swim. They were hanging out in the water under some foliage to make the most of the shade. Periodically, they would take a swim with her pushing the baby ahead of her under water. If it popped up to the surface, she would push it back under to get it used to being under for long periods of time.
A couple of laps of the pool and then back under the foliage to take a break before repeating the process. Getting shots was not easy. First, mum was pretty protective and blocked the view of the baby a lot. It would pop up occasionally. Of course, shooting through thick glass doesn’t help. Once they were swimming there were better chances. However, the tank glass is thick and the distortion at angles is significant. Also, there were a ton of people also trying to get a view.
Despite all of this, we did get a chance to see the baby swimming around. It really was a very cute looking thing. The pictures will not be worthy of anything beyond the blog but they are a nice snapshot of the early days of a creature that will soon be a lot bigger. By the time this posts, I imagine it will have grown substantially.
Time for something colorful. Our trip to San Diego included a visit to the San Diego Zoo. Recognized around the world, this is a high quality zoo with a wide variety of animals. They seemed to be investing heavily in new enclosures for the animals which is something I appreciate a lot. The more exotic creatures are not the subject today. It is a bird and a distinctive one at that. Flamingos are a curious looking bird. Their color comes from their food so I assume the zoo has to make sure they get the right stuff to keep them looking pink. No one is going to be excited by a dull looking flamingo!
As a kid, there was a Flamingo park not far from where I lived. Consequently, I have never thought of them as exotic – just interesting. I did spend some time watching them though. The shape of their head and beak is unusual and the way they balance, rest and feed makes them worthy of some time. One day I would like to see them in the wild because they must look even better in flight!
As we were driving along the harbor in San Diego, I saw something odd in the marina area. We doubled back and found somewhere to park so I could investigate further. It was a sailing boat which had an airfoil style of mast as opposed to a normal mast with rigging for sails. The wing section appeared to be in multiple parts which, I imagine, would provide a greater degree of control. Since the boat was moored, we didn’t see it in action so I have no idea how well it performs but it certainly looked pretty interesting.
One evening on Coronado I wanted to get some shots of the San Diego skyline when it was illuminated. As I was walking along the water, a group of people came paddle boarding by in the dark. With the water calm and nothing much moving in the bay, it seemed like a pretty cool thing to be doing just gliding through at your own pace watching the city drift by. Hope that they had a good time!
I have been to San Diego a few times but one area I had never explored before was Cabrillo National Monument. Head out through Point Loma to the end of the peninsula and you enter the national park area. It was getting towards the end of the day when we got there so the visit was a little truncated. First we went to the tide pools. The signs said they would be closing first, hence the decision.
Of course, why would the tide pools be closing first? Because the tide was coming in. By the time we got there, the water was already starting to get close to coming over the rocks. Nevertheless, there was still a chance to have a quick wander around by the water. What was probably nicer was the view along the shore. The trails along the cliff tops provided great views of the ocean and the coast off into the distance. If we had been there earlier in the day and had more time, this would have definitely been a place to explore further.
We then headed back up to the top of the ridge and the visitor center. Here is the statue of Cabrillo himself as well as a great view across the whole of San Diego. With Coronado Island in the foreground including NAS North Island and the Hotel Del Coronado and then San Diego’s city center rising behind it, the whole bay area looked great in the gradually lowering evening light. Of course, the late arrival did mean that we were coming up on closing time so it wasn’t long before they announced it was time to go.
Some animals seem to like attention. Even when they are supposed to be afraid of humans, they end up being the center of attention. Such was the case with an egret that was standing in the water in Balboa Park. At first I thought it was a plastic model but, once it started moving, it was clearly real. Everyone was distracted by it. Some kids were keen to get their hands on it but the parents seemed to do just enough to stop it getting spooked which was quite surprising.
I assume it was attracted to the fish living in the water feature. However, they seemed to be wise enough to stay away. Whether it got any food or not, I don’t know. It stayed around for quite a while and I left first. When I came back, it was gone. Whether it was bored or knew of a better lunch spot, I shall never know.
While I was not aiming to get any aviation photography done while I was in San Diego, I don’t think it is wrong to grab a few shots of passing aircraft if they happen to come my way. It’s not like I planned for it to happen. While we were up at Cabrillo, a C-130 launched out of NAS North Island. It was still a reasonably large distance away from us but I did manage to get a few shots of it as it climbed out in our general direction. At least it stopped me from getting withdrawal symptoms.
While other parts of Balboa Park have a very ordered look to them, the Alcazar garden is an interesting contrast. The beds are laid out in a pattern for sure but the plants that grow have a far more natural feel to them. It doesn’t have the feel of a perfectly manicured garden but instead feels a bit more like what the natural plant growth would be if things had been left to their own devices. It makes the place feel more relaxed as a result.
While it was a nice place to relax for a while, it was a bit tricky to find a way to convey the relaxed nature of things photographically. The type of plants gets a little lost when you are looking at the wider view of the garden and the detail of the plants loses the feeling of the overall space. Perhaps you will just have to take my word for it!