Monday, January 19, 2009

More Tree Discoveries...

And here are some more trees seen on my walks:

Tree Shadows

And here are some trees with their shadows...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Malibu Lagoon: Snowy Egrets

Another favorite bird of mine at the Lagoon is the little Snowy Egret. They may not be as dramatic as the Great Egret but they are fascinating, charming and ridiculous to watch as they run backwards and forwards on the shore. They are totally cartoon birds. Also, they can be drama-queens, suddenly freezing, craning their necks and puffing up their crests when they sense danger. In this mode they remind me of Mearcats...

Malibu Lagoon: Sand-Prints

I have developed my own technique for getting close to the birds at the Lagoon, especially the Pelicans: the Bum-Shuffle. First, I walk very slowly in their direction. When I see them looking uneasy, I spread my towel on the sand and sit on it together with my bag. Once they have quietened down and the one I am targeting has gone to sleep- with his head tucked into his back- I proceed, inch by inch, to creep forward on my bum, leaving my island of belongings behind. In this way I can get really close to them. Often, however, I am thwarted: either a child will come running across the sand, waving at the birds, or all the birds on the Lagoon will suddenly-for no apparent reason- go into panic-mode. The Pelicans will fly off into the middle of the Ocean, leaving me sitting there by myself....

Below- apart from the dozing Pelicans- there is a sand-print of a Pelican's foot and a sand-print of my Bum- Shuffle:

Malibu Lagoon: Pelicans

Last week- after what seemed like many weeks of grey, cold weather- the sun came out and we had, and continue to have, some beautiful Southern Californian days. This spurred me on to visit one of my favorite places, with my camera- the Malibu Lagoon. At this time of year, during the week it can be quite deserted, except for BIRDS- hundreds of birds- a bird Paradise.

The first day I went there I was concentrating on the Pelicans, so here are some of them:

Friday, January 9, 2009

Evening Light

There is nothing so seductive as that last evening "glow" in which the low sun transforms the landscape into magic. Perhaps because it is so transitory and elusive- you can miss it so easily- it becomes even more exciting. I seem to have been chasing that moment for much of my life- racing up Scottish mountains, rushing round street corners- sometimes catching it, sometimes missing it. Here in Santa Monica I was blissfully happy walking round my local roads this evening.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tree Questionnaire 2: Scott Smith

My 2nd Tree Questionnaire was completed by Scott Smith, Photographer. As he mentions, he is involved in an exciting project of producing 29 large-format photos of exceptional Palm Trees for an exhibition. Scott was also a committed Treesaver who worked tirelessly to help save some of the Ficus Trees on the streets of Santa Monica. Here are his answers:

Q: What is your first memory of a tree?
S: Flowering plum tree in our front yard (Baltimore) - deep dark maroon leaves.

Q: Which is your favorite tree of all?
S: A climbable ancient oak.

Q: Could you name or describe an artistic depiction of a tree that is special to you?
S: Bernice Abbott's b&w photo of birds in a tree.

Q: Was there a particular person who introduced you to the importance of trees?
S: Big Jim (older kid) who explained the building of tree forts in terms of parental escape.

Q: What is the most useful quality a tree can provide?
S: Shelter (sitting under, as well as building material).

Q: If you were a tree which would you be and why?
S: Coconut palm - lives at the beach, leans out over lapping waves and watches girls in bikinis.

Q: Which is the happiest tree?
S: Ficus - innocent and optimistic, the original lollipop tree drawn by kids.

Q: Are there any trees that are part of your life now?
S: Twenty nine palms captured on film for my exhibition prints and three live palms on the sunporch.

Q: What would you do, or like to do, to help trees?
S: Been there, done that with Treesavers.

Q: What would you say to future generations about the importance of trees?
S: Trees are our planet's lungs - protect them.

Some weeks ago, before completing the Questionnaire, Scott sent me his photo below, as of a tree he "fell in love with tonight"!

Early Evening, Santa Monica Beach

And here are a few Beach Scenes...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Santa Monica Afternoon...

We are so lucky in Santa Monica: not only do we have these ever-amazing trees but we also always have the mountains in our sight (now often snow-capped) and we are never far from the expansive Ocean. Walking on the beach to the accompaniment of the sound of the waves; watching the shore-birds and examining their footprints in the sand and the excitement of enjoying yet another example of Eucalyptus bark- all these things amount to pure happiness on a Santa Monica afternoon.