California: Spectacular Filoli Gardens!

Birdbath with Pink Camellia Flowers

Layered Delicate Pink Camellia Flower

White Camellia Flower with Yellow Center

Hot Pink Camellia Flower with Yellow Center

Red and White Camellia Flower

Bench by Yellow Daffodils and Red Camellia Tree

Yellow and White Daffodil Pair

Orange and White Daffodil

Field of Yellow Daffodils

Pink Tulip Magnolia Tree and Bench

Pink Tulip Magnolia Tree Flower

Branch of White Magnolia Flowers

White Magnolia Flower Pair

Bunny Statue by Flowering Tulips and Hyacinths

Filoli Gardens (south of San Francisco, California) is spectacular in spring!  The blooming flowers put on a beautiful show.  It is one of the top gardens in the United States and a must-see.  These pictures were taken in February just a week after it opened for the season.  In full bloom already were camellias, daffodils, and magnolia trees.  More info is at:  http://filoli.org/

California Hummingbirds

Male Anna’s Hummingbird’s Spectacular Pink Gorget Feathers

Female Anna’s Hummingbird on Nest

Two Tiny Eggs in Nest

Anna’s Hummingbird at Grevillea Flower

Costa’s Hummingbird’s Purple Gorget

On a recent trip to California we got lucky and saw some spectacular hummingbirds.  They are a favorite!  Hummingbirds are incredibly beautiful and full of personality.  In flight their wings beat at least 50 times per second, which sounds like a buzz when they zoom past you in the garden.  Forward flight speed reaches 30 mph, and dive speeds reach 60 mph! 

Hummingbird nests are constructed of plant material bound together with sticky, stretchy spider webs.  Lichens are attached to the outside of the nest for camouflage.  Mother hummingbirds lay two eggs.  Although each egg is less than ½ inch long and smaller than a jellybean, they represent as much as 10% of her body weight.  These little flying jewels are precious!  More fun facts about hummingbirds are at:  https://www.thespruce.com/fun-facts-about-hummingbirds-387106   A live cam on Bella’s current active hummingbird nest is at: http://explore.org/live-cams/player/bella-hummingbird-nest

Charles M. Schulz Museum: Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and Peanuts

Charlie Brown at Entrance to Schulz Museum

Charlie Brown at Entrance to Schulz Museum

Drawing Studio of Charles “Sparky” Schulz

Drawing Studio of Charles “Sparky” Schulz

Charles Schulz Nursery Wall for Daughter in 1951

Charles Schulz Nursery Wall for Daughter in 1951

Close-up of Charlie Brown and Snoopy on Nursery Wall

Close-up of Charlie Brown and Snoopy on Nursery Wall

Close-up of Tiger on Nursery Wall

Close-up of Tiger on Nursery Wall

22-Foot-Tall Peanuts Tile Mural Composed of Individual Comic Strips

22-Foot-Tall Peanuts Tile Mural Composed of Individual Comic Strips

Close-Up of Mural

Close-Up of Mural

Individual Comic

Individual Comic

Snoopy as Safety Mascot for NASA

Snoopy as Safety Mascot for NASA

Snoopy as First Beagle on the Moon

Snoopy as First Beagle on the Moon

Snoopy at Kennedy Space Center

Snoopy at Kennedy Space Center

Snoopy Project Apollo Recovery Team Patch

Snoopy Project Apollo Recovery Team Patch

Snoopy and Woodstock Bench

Snoopy and Woodstock Bench

Snoopy Ice Cream and Cookies Sign

Snoopy Ice Cream and Cookies Sign

Stained Glass Featuring Snoopy

Stained Glass Featuring Snoopy

Poster Featuring Evolution of Snoopy and Charlie Brown

Poster Featuring Evolution of Snoopy and Charlie Brown

My Favorite Snoopy Comics by Charles M. Schulz

My Favorite Snoopy Comics by Charles M. Schulz

Snoopy Dog Lips Painting

Snoopy Dog Lips Painting

Lucy as Mona Lisa Painting

Lucy as Mona Lisa Painting

U.S. Postal Service Peanuts Commemorative Stamps

U.S. Postal Service Peanuts Commemorative Stamps

Snoopy with Authors Pam and Richard Digitized into Peanuts Characters

Snoopy with Authors Pam and Richard Digitized into Peanuts Characters

The Charles M. Schulz Museum is located in Santa Rosa, California (north of San Francisco).  It is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the art of Charles Schulz and the characters of Peanuts.  Displays at the museum include Schulz’ drawing studio, nursery wall, tile mural, and comic strip art (click on pictures for more details – especially the nursery wall and tile mural).  Our favorite Peanuts characters are Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and Lucy.  Snoopy is so popular that NASA has used him as a safety mascot since 1969.  The Apollo 10 lunar module was named Snoopy, and the command module was named Charlie Brown.

Every December we watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” television special.  It first aired on December 9, 1965, and half of the country tuned in to watch. The U.S. Postal Service recently issued stamps to celebrate the show’s 50th anniversary.  On current exhibit at the museum is a display about the new “Peanuts Movie” that debuted in November 2015.  In conjunction with the movie was a website that allowed you to digitize yourself into Peanuts characters.

A wooden sign at the museum sums up our feelings nicely:  “The characters of Peanuts are magically real to us all.  We are captivated by the familiar quirks of their distinct personalities.  As we come to know them, the comics come alive, and we are forever fans.”  More info about the Schulz Museum is at:  http://schulzmuseum.org/

Monarchs Avoid Hurricane

Monarchs Clustered on Branch in Winter in California

Monarchs Clustered on Branch in Winter in California

Wintering Monarchs on Eucalyptus Tree

Wintering Monarchs on Eucalyptus Tree

Monarch Metamorphosis Sign

Monarch Metamorphosis Sign

Monarch Caterpillar About to Pupate

Monarch Caterpillar About to Pupate

Stunning Monarch Chrysalis (jade with gold-like line and dots)

Stunning Monarch Chrysalis (jade with gold-like line and dots)

Chrysalis Clears Before Emergence

Chrysalis Clears Before Emergence

Monarch Pumps Fluid into Wings after Emergence

Monarch Pumps Fluid into Wings after Emergence

Beautiful Monarch Butterfly Ready for First Flight

Beautiful Monarch Butterfly Ready for First Flight

Close-up of Monarch Wing

Close-up of Monarch Wing

Scientists have confirmed that the Eastern North America population of Monarch butterflies successfully avoided Hurricane Patricia last week during their migration to Mexico.  The butterflies sensed the wind and humidity of the hurricane, and detoured east to take shelter in mountainous ravines.  The butterflies are healthy and are currently en route to their wintering grounds in the forests of Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (a World Heritage Site).  Monarchs cluster there in the trees to keep warm from October to March.  Monarchs living west of the Rocky Mountains winter along California’s Pacific Coast in isolated colonies from San Francisco south to San Diego.  Monarchs are the only butterfly known to make a two-way migration. You can track news and status maps of Monarch migration at:  https://www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/News.html  You can help Monarch butterflies by planting flowers to provide nectar and native milkweed to lay their eggs on.

California Beach Treasures

California Coast South of San Francisco

California Coast South of San Francisco

Long Exposure of Rocky Coast

Long Exposure of Rocky Coast

Long Exposure of Ocean Waves

Long Exposure of Ocean Waves

Sea Foam on a Windy Day

Sea Foam on a Windy Day

Tafoni Rocks

Tafoni Rocks

Interesting Rock Patterns

Interesting Rock Patterns

Colorful Pebbles and Orange Turban Shell

Colorful Pebbles and Orange Turban Shell

Japanese Fishing Float

Japanese Fishing Float

Acorn Barnacles and Red Algae (Nori)

Acorn Barnacles and Red Algae (Nori)

Clear Spiky Gelatinous Shells of Corolla Sea Butterflies and Seaweed

By the Wind Sailor with Green and Blue Sea Glass

By the Wind Sailor with Green and Blue Sea Glass

Green Anemone in Tidepool

Green Anemone in Tidepool

6 Armed Purple Sea Star

6 Armed Purple Sea Star

Agates Collected on Beach

Agates Collected on Beach

Agates Glowing under UV Blacklight

Agates Glowing under UV Blacklight

Agates after Polishing in Rock Tumbler

Agates after Polishing in Rock Tumbler

The California coastline south of San Francisco is very rocky and scenic. At low tide there are all sorts of interesting things to see on the beach and in the tidepools.  Surprisingly turban snails can live up to 30 years! Sometimes you find jellyfish, salp, and pyrosomes washed in from Monterey Bay.  A day at the ocean is always fun!  (Click on the pictures above for additional stories and links.)

Beautiful White Pelicans

White Pelican Swimming

White Pelican Swimming

White Pelican Wing Stretch

White Pelican Wing Stretch

White Pelican Pouch and Knob on  Bill

White Pelican Pouch and Knob on Bill

White Pelican Flying

White Pelican Flying

Flock of White Pelicans Soaring

Flock of White Pelicans Soaring

White pelicans are one of North America’s largest birds.  Their 9 foot wingspan is second only to the American Condor.  They are true snow birds – they spend winter along our southern coasts and head inland and north in summer.  During nesting season, they grow temporary knobs on their bills and have bright yellow around their eyes.  They feed by dipping their pouches into the water, and sometimes work together to corral and scoop up fish.  It is always a treat to see these magnificent birds!

Amazing Hummingbirds

Female Allen's Hummingbird

Female Allen’s Hummingbird

Male Allen's Hummingbird

Male Allen’s Hummingbird

Female Anna's Hummingbird

Female Anna’s Hummingbird

Male Anna's Hummingbird

Male Anna’s Hummingbird

Wings of Anna's Hummingbird

Wings of Anna’s Hummingbird

Hummingbirds are known as “flying jewels” because of their beautiful iridescent feathers.  They are the only birds that can rotate their wings in a circle.  They can hover and fly forward, backward, and even briefly upside down.  They are among the smallest of birds, and only live in the Americas.  Their tiny nests are 1.5 inches in diameter – just big enough for two jellybean-size eggs.  Spider silk is used to stick lichens onto the nest for camouflage.  Hummingbirds eat small insects and drink nectar from up to 1,000 flowers per day.  They are a favorite of mine – what sweet little birds!  More fun info is at:  http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/humm/funfacts.html

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