.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

A Day at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

San Diego Zoo Safari (1)

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is found near Escondido, California, about a half hour’s drive northeast of San Diego and its world famous San Diego Zoo.  
I’ve visited the San Diego Zoo Safari Park about a half dozen times in the past 35 years and really enjoyed every visit.  When we first came to the park decades ago the place was known as San Diego Wild Animal Park, but in 2010 the name was changed because some people were apparently getting it and the zoo confused.  This is not the zoo — it’s where you can go on a (sort-of) safari.  But at either place you’ll have the chance to see a large quantity and variety of …

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.All Trips / Florida / North America / Southeastern USA

A Few Photos of Life in the Everglades

07 Shark Valley 12-2018 (47)

The slowly flowing, warm, River of Grass is teaming with life, although at times it’s hard to see it.  A recommended place to spot wildlife within Everglades National Park is in Shark Valley.  There is a lengthy elevated bike path in the area, which is shared by a tram.  You can rent a bike and cycle around, stopping to see the alligators and birds, or you can sit back in the tram and let a biologist/guide educate you about what you’re seeing.  Both options are very rewarding.  There is no better place to immerse yourself in this UNESCO World Heritage ecosystem.

We visited Shark Valley a few months ago and had a wonderful experience.  I previously published a …

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“Pic of the Week”, November 8, 2019: Hiding in plain sight, Everglades National Park

Shark Valley 12-2018 (173)

My brother and I were traveling down a remote road in Everglades National Park one evening.  We’d stopped frequently to enjoy views and take photos of the River of Grass and Cypress groves.  During our last stop, in the fading light, we noted this alligator nearby, well camouflaged by the low light and reflections of the cypress trees.  There was something primitive and primal about the scene that caused the hair on my neck to stand on end.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)

 

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.All Trips / North America / Southeastern USA

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

02 Merritt Island NWR Little Blue Heron (46)

During our last visit to Florida, my father and I drove from our base in Orlando to explore some of Florida’s east coast.  Our destination for the day was the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, not far from Titusville.  

This is a massive preserve, some 140,000 acres (57,000 ha), situated on the same island as the Kennedy Space Center.  Because of its close proximity to the Space Center, there are rare times when NASA restricts access to this National Wildlife Refuge (e.g. when the space shuttle was landing in Florida).

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

The topography of the refuge is flat, but still there are a mixture of habitats including saltwater and freshwater marshes, dunes, forests and scrub.  Here …

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.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

The Living Desert Wildlife and Botanical Park

desert

Unless you’ve driven across them, it’s hard to comprehend how vast the deserts of the American Southwest are.  While at first glance the region seems nearly lifeless, it’s rich in a diverse variety of hardy plant and animal life.  An excellent way to see this assortment of desert life is to stop everywhere and explore.  A much easier and more convenient way is to visit a botanical garden which, while not a perfect experience, is highly educational.  A place I’d recommend is the Living Desert, located in Palm Desert, California (very near Palm Springs), which provides a one-stop chance to explore the flora and fauna of America’s deserts –with an African sampler to boot!

Giraffes, Living Desert Museum

The Living Desert occupies …

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“Pic of the Week”, March 4, 2017: Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island

058 Kangaroo Island, Seal Bay

One of the most interesting days we had on our visit to Kangaroo Island included a stop at Seal Bay, now a Conservation Park.  The Bay is home to a colony of up to 1,000 Australian Sea Lions, one of the rarest types of sea lions.  Less than 15,000 of them exist and this Bay is home to one of the largest colonies.

When we visited, there were no other people on the Bay, or for that matter, any of the beaches we stopped at on the island.  It seemed a little odd at the time to be on a miles long stretch of beautiful sandy beach and not have any other people about.  But we took advantage of the opportunity …

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.All Trips / Africa / Botswana

“Pic of the Week”, July 28, 2016: African Elephants

10-Elephants

Elephants have fascinated me since I was a child.  You can enjoy them at the circus, in documentaries and zoos, but to really appreciate elephants you need to observe them in the wild.  They are majestic and entertaining, and will capture your full attention.   Their cute little ones will steal your heart.

African elephants are the largest land animals currently living on our planet.  They have massive ears shaped like the continent on which they live (and which are larger than the auricular appendages of their Asian cousins).  Because of their size, they consume a lot of food, about 300 pounds (136 kilograms) a day.  They are social creatures, with females and the young roaming in herds, but bulls tending to …

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“Pic of the Week”, July 8, 2016: Guanacos, Patagonia

El Chalten 2014 (6c) Guanacos

I’d the impression guanacos were not that common an animal in South America.  Yes, they were there, but like the Andean Condor you’d have to be lucky to see one.  After visiting Argentina and Chile I learned this impression was totally wrong.  They’re as common as corn in the fields of Iowa on a summer day,   As common as mosquitoes on the Canadian tundra after the spring thaw.  They’re everywhere!  These guanacos were standing beside the road and didn’t move when our tour van stopped for these photos, unconcerned about our presence.

Guanacos are related to camels and between 1 and 1.2 meters (3 – 4 ft) tall  at the shoulder, weighing a surprising 90 kg (200 lb).   Their color is very bland compared to their cousins, …

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