November 14, 2022

Our new Tiki Dojo pergola

There is an old adage that claims 'one can't build structural elements with bamboo'.

Our new Tiki Dojo directly challenges this adage.

10 foot tall and 5 inch wide bamboo poles support this simple shade structure in the backyard.

It's everything I ever wanted.

The bar top is coated with nine layers of marine spar varnish. 

If you look closely, you can see my old tiller from the Alize sailboat in the background. I placed a brand new tiller on the boat before I sold her off to a new soul in La Paz. 

The Tiki-Dojo with orange tree in foreground

November 28, 2021

Red shouldered Hawk

 This beauty was high up in a power line behind our home in La Mesa.

It looks like a large, adult, California variety.

A murder of crows was circling this hawk, giving it hell.

The hawk was shrieking in response. 

July 28, 2021

Birds of summer

Birds spotted along the Pacific Crest Trail near the Sunrise Highway, about 10 miles south of Julian, CA.

Photo ID provided by Dr. Ryan Petterson.

Western Bluebirds 

Mountain Mahogany in flower

Western wood Peewee

Allan's hummingbird in my backyard in La Mesa

March 13, 2021

Get vaccinated as soon as possible and keep your chin up!

 Hello boating friends,

As many of you know, when I'm not mucking about on boats or looking at birds....I teach classes about our immune system and Covid-19.

I recently made a video to express my current optimism with the pandemic. 

We are beginning to see data come in that suggests the new variants may not pose as big of a threat as previously feared. Of course, it isn't time to pound our chests or plant a victory flag....but at the same time, it is okay to start feeling good about the future. 

I share my thoughts in the video below. 

March 2, 2021

Loggerhead Shrike in Anza Borrego State Park

Saw this very cool bird on top of an Ocotillo cactus along Fish Creek Wash in Anza Borrego State Park.

Loggerhead Shrike

This bird is famous for impaling small mammals against the spines of cactus. A carnivorous passerine...

They call this bird, the butcherbird.

Check this video of the shrike's handiwork. It has impaled about 10 horned lizards on a cactus. 

credit:unknown (clearly not my photo, because the quality is too good....)

February 10, 2021

Pandemic 2021: The good news and the bad news

Hello friends,

It has been far too long since I last wrote. This past year has brought many changes in my life.

Among other things, I've moved into a new home in the eastern portion of San Diego County. This area is a nice change from the crowded coastline of southern California. I'll soon be planting citrus trees in my backyard.

In addition, Covid-19 has changed the focus of my career. Much of my work is centered around science communication and lately, everyone wants to talk about the pandemic. I've spent much of the past year talking to different groups about the evolving situation with the pandemic. I speak a lot about our own immune system (B cells, T cells, antibodies) and the manner the virus engages with our human physiology.

On Feb 10, I made the video below to summarize the situation with herd immunity and the new virus variants. In summary, I'm optimistic that we are on track to curtail the pandemic, but I do think the new variants are an additional curveball. I figured we would see mutations arise in the spike protein region of the viral genome, but I was hoping the mutations would not affect the protection delivered from natural immunity and vaccine induced immunity. Recent news suggests one of the new variants can escape our immunity to a certain degree.

I share all of my thoughts in the video below.


October 19, 2020

Waterfowl in Imperial Beach

We are poking around Imperial Beach, looking at possible homes. The vibes along the water and SeaCoast Drive are very good.

Everyone seems to really be enjoying themselves. 

Lots of Long billed Curlews and Whimbrels out along the water line.

July 26, 2020

Southern Sierra Nevada mountains: in the Main Fork of the Kern River

We finally, headed up the main fork of the Kern River, and then up farther to the North Fork of the Kern. This is the area around Lake Isabella, it is Merle Haggard country.

We did a lot of hiking around 7,000 feet near Alta Sierra, much of this area has been burned in recent fires (Cedar Fire of 2016), but there are some beautiful wooded areas as well. Almost empty of people also... this is a less common visited area of the Sequoia National Forest.

Western Bluebird
Western Bluebird
White headed Woodpecker
Swainson's Thrush

Dark eyed Junco

Southern Sierra Nevada mountains: near Kennedy Meadows

Summer is here... and nobody is flying anywhere due to Covid...
It's a great time to explore the nooks and crannies of your own neck of the woods.
I've been driving out to different spots in the southern end of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

These birds were spotted near the South Fork of the Kern River.

Western Tanager

Western Tanager

Dark eyed Junco

April 12, 2020

A falcon at San Elijo Lagoon

Took another swing though San Elijo Lagoon and saw this falcon stalking prey mid-flight. 

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

Anna's Hummingbird (male)

April 4, 2020

Birds in the time of Covid: Lagoons of North County, San Diego, April 2020

In times like these, one finds themselves socially distanced and alone with the smaller things on this planet.

Which begs the question, Is birding important during a pandemic?

With resounding confidence I assert, 'NOW, MORE THAN EVER.'

San Dieguito and San Elijo lagoon of North County, San Diego still remain open to hikers as long as they convince the ranger they will not be congregating with others.

Ok, plowing foward...

For this post, we have a special cameo appearance from a celebrity landscape painter from central California.

Ryan 'two T's' Petterson is well known throughout the geological features/water-color painting community, however, he is considerably less well known among the birding community of San Diego.

But, please let's give this rock-jock a chance. He has requested a chance to pre-ID the birds on this post. No one has ever asked for such a challenge on the Captain's Log before, so what could I do??
I had to oblige.

Ryan, I wish you all the best. The microphone is yours. If you see fit, please list the common names for each bird, top to bottom in a comment below. And I will remind, you....the world is watching.

I included multiple shots for some birds, to show off different behavior or colors.

Common Yellowthroat (adult male Southwest)

Common Yellowthroat (adult male Southwest)

American Avocet (breeding male)

American Avocet (breeding male)

Marbled Godwit (non-breeding)

American Widgeon (breeding pair)


Mourning Dove

California Towhee

California Towhee

Green Heron (1st year)

Anna's X Costa's Hummingbird hybrid (yeah, I know....I'm getting a bit ambitious with this ID)

Anna's X Costa's Hummingbird hybrid (yeah, I know....I'm getting a bit ambitious with this ID)

Juvenile Spotted Sandpiper (maybe)

House Finch

Spotted Towhee


Yellow-rumped Warbler