Look Who Showed Up at The Holler~

Tiny Scaly Breasted Munias are native to India and Southeast Asia (click/tap to enlarge).

I told you birds,

don’t pay attention,

to where they are ‘supposed’ to be!

They looked as surprised to see me as I was to see them, but we are getting used to each other.

There is a whole flock of them.

It turns out these birds were sold in US pet stores as Nutmeg Mannikins.

Some escaped and have been breeding in Southern California.

I had a dickens of a time identifying them because they are not native.

Cheers to you from the new Holler locals who are fitting in quite nicely with the neighbors~

Off the Beaten Path: Painted Sea Caves~

On the western side of Santa Cruz Island (click/tap to enlarge),

in Channel Islands National Park,

off the coast of Southern California,

you will find,

the fourth largest sea cave in the world.

The cave extends for a quarter mile under the basalt cliffs of Santa Cruz Island.

You can enter and explore the cave by boat.

It’s vibrant colors are created by lichen growing on the cave walls.

I saw similar caves in Isla Ballestas in Peru, but the colors in the Peruvian caves were formed by strata in the rock and there was more natural light to see inside:

Islas Ballestas~

Cheers to you from the world’s fascinating ‘Off the Beaten Path’ Sea Caves~

Off the Beaten Path: Super Pods~

This is what you see first in the far distance. Sea birds congregating over dolphin herded fish balls. Note the dolphin in the lower center of the photo. For every dolphin you see at any given moment on the surface, there are scores more underwater (click to enlarge).

As you focus in, you notice odd splashes everywhere around you, and dolphins cresting in the distance.

The Captain spins the boat,

in fast churning 360 degree circles,

as dolphins race towards you,

to play in the wake.

They swim,

directly at,


and underneath the boat,

far surpassing the speed and skill of the captain.

Cheers to you from the stunning dolphin super pods~

Off the Beaten Path: Santa Rosa Island~

Endless, pristine beaches with no one on them (click/tap to enlarge).

My son chooses a favored spot,

and prepares to take a very long nap.

Santa Rosa Island,

in Channel Islands National Park in Southern California,

is like a distant, undiscovered paradise. It is only a three hour bumpy small boat ride from mainland California, but it feels worlds away.

It is the only place in the world, besides my hometown in La Jolla, where Torrey Pine Tree forests grow naturally.

This is our boat leaving Santa Rosa Island with Santa Cruz Island in the background. The islands are suprisingly large, unpopulated and completely undeveloped. The waters around them team with wildlife, including blue whales and the largest population of multiple species of dolpins in the world. Super pods are often encountered here and I have been in the midst of them several times, including yesterday, which is a thrilling experience. I will show you some dolphin and whale photos soon.

Wild flowers are still growing profusely in mid-June!

The islands are home to lots of fauna too, including Channel Islands Foxes, which live no where else in the world, are tiny, adorable, and unafraid of humans. Photos of them soon.

What the islands may lack in modern conveniences,

they make up for in spades with unspoiled splendor.

Cheers to you from Santa Rosa Island~

Bullocks Orioles~

This Bullocks Oriole is not sticking his tongue out at you, or me (click to enlarge).

He is eating grape jelly. Orioles are grape jelly fiends. At The Holler, strawberry, or other fruit jellies won’t do. Only ants and wasps will eat it.

We have two types of orioles at The Holler. Hooded Orioles and Bullocks Orioles.

These are all Bullocks Oriole males.

This is a Hooded Oriole male. He is more elongated, has a larger beak, and is a brighter yellow color.

A mated male and female Bullocks Oriole pair. Bullocks Orioles males have the dramatic black eyeliner at the outside corners of their eyes and are more orange in color.

All orioles are extremely argumentative! This male Bullocks Oriole holds his own in a fierce debate against a more formidable Mocking Bird.

Cheers to you from all the quarrelsome Holler Orioles~

Hooded Orioles: Pairs & Females~

Quite a curious Hooded Oriole mated pair (click/tap to enlarge).

They are avid people watchers,

and grape jelly eaters!

Orioles are migrating birds, and because it is cold in the winter at The Holler, our orioles head to warmer winter climes.

They spend spring and summer nesting at The Holler.

Female orioles are supremely talented weaver birds, and design intricate and beautiful hanging nests from palm strings. This female is loading up on string to weave her nests.

Cheers to you from the beautifully curious Holler Hooded Orioles~

Off the Beaten Path: Aviero

Aviero Portugal (click/tap to enlarge),

is off the beaten tourist track.

Portuguese people often vacation here.

It is the Venice of Portugal, replete with canals and gondolas,

but quieter and more peaceful.

There are old Azulejos tiles all over Aviero,

many depicting the town itself.

Except for cars,

and wonderful street art, Aviero hasn’t changed much from the scenes depicted in the old tiles.

Cheers to you from peaceful Aviero~

Note: My new theme! WordPress tech support was really helpful in sorting out many of the aforementioned blog problems. So thank you WordPress support. You are appreciated!