Best Photos from our Readers and Staff
By Greg Dunne
April 28, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) -- My friend, David Hart, and myself went on a long and strenuous six-hour but fun hike of all five peaks at Mission Trails Regional Park on Wednesday. We enjoyed seeing many of nature’s wild life. Mule Deer, Red Diamondback Rattlesnake (always be aware of rattlesnakes this time of year), a Gopher Snake, (the gopher snake I befriended and then let him back on his way), and even a Jerusalem Cricket.
April 24, 2013 (San Diego's East County) -- A sure sign of spring in East County is when you see wild lilacs (ceanothus) blooming, covering fields and hillsides in a tapestry of lavender and purple. ECM editor Miriam Raftery captured these beautiful blooms in Deerhorn Valley.
April 24, 2013 (La Mesa) – The Lake Jennings March Photo Contest garnered 83 spectacular entries from individuals throughout Southern California and Arizona, from age 8 and older. Photographers roamed the banks, paddled into the deep, hung out in Hermit Cove, watched the wild life, and clicked shutters. Winning entries were selected in both the Youth and Adult categories. Photos can be viewed on the Helix Water District or Lake Jennings’ Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.519785861417321.1073741828.301972993198610&type=1#!/media/set/?set=a.519785861417321.1073741828.301972993198610&type=1
April 7, 2013 (Julian) – This photo taken by Nadin Abbott in Julian stumped our staff initially when we were asked to identify the bird with dramatic black and white markings.
Fortunately, our “Bird Talk” columnist Greg Dunne checked with experts and confirmed that this beautiful bird in flight is Acorn Woodpecker.
April 3, 2013 (Jamul) -- Ariele Brooke sent in this adorable photo of her young relatives at an Easter event sponsored by Jamul Kiwanis.
"They had a petting zoo with chickens, bunnies, and a goat," Brooke reports, adding that activities also included an egg hunt, face punting and inflatable jump.
By Miriam Raftery
March 24, 2013 (Jacumba Hot Springs) --I spotted this beautiful crested bird, a cedar waxwing, on a visit to Jacumba Hot Springs last week. Lake Jacumba, once virtually dry, is now refilled and is a magnet for a wide variety of bird species.
Cedar waxwings are most often found in the northern United States, but can be seen in wooded areas of San Diego County during their spring migration. They often travel in flocks and are known as the "party animals" of the bird world, since they have been known to feast on fruits and berries until they become intoxicated!
March 13, 2013 (Jamul) -- Debbie Ekhaml caught the action as twin fawns leaped across a meadow in an ecological preserve in Jamul. Who knew that Bambi could jump so high--nearly resembling a kangaroo at times?
"I have many pictures of them with the doe, but like them jumping the best," wrote Ekhaml, who declined to disclose the precise location in order to protect the deer from hunters.
By Greg Dunne
March 6, 2013 - Last week I did back to back hikes in Missions Trails Regional Park. I was treated with three Mule Deer on the trail—a great sight! I have only seen deer at Mission Trails once before and that was after the Cedar fires of 2003.
It was on my way back from North Mt. Fortuna that I spotted the trio of deer. They were not as skittish as I thought they might be and I was able to watch them and take photos for at least three or four minutes.
March 2, 2013 (San Diego's East County) -- "A beautiful day, and a huge chunk of granite in The East County," photographer Tom Lemon says of this image he shot of Corte Madera Peak, also known as the "Half Dome of San Diego County" rising majestically above pine trees.
February 26, 2013 (Descanso) -- Julie Salmons shot these photos after this week’s heavy snowfall blanketed her community in Descanso.
February 17, 2013 (McCain Valley) – Melody Ponchot of Boulevard sent this beautiful set of photos from an early morning adventure she took with a friend, Donna Tisdale, after the snowfall last weekend.
“Four wheeling in the snow to McCain Valley is so much fun,” she observed.
This pristine public land, one of East County’s most beautiful recreational areas, is slated to be razed for construction of Tule Wind, an industrial wind facility approved by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management despite overwhelming public opposition.
February 9, 2013 (Ocotillo) -- Photographer Jim Pelley brings us this perspective of how the Ocotillo Express Wind Facility has marred the beauty of nature in his desert community.
"The snow can been seen from Ocotillo and it used to be a good picture from my house," he writes. "Now the picture is littered with these monstrosities."
January 29, 2013 (Santee)--Van Collingsworth, Executive Director of Preserve Wild Santee, snapped this portrait of a coyote this week.
“The Coyote had just finished drinking from Sycamore Creek near the boundary of Fanita Ranch, MCAS- Miramar, and a Mission Trails Expansion Area parcel of East Elliot,” he states. “Sycamore Creek is an important wildlife corridor and is the last clean running creek in Santee because there is no urban development in the watershed that feeds it on MCAS-Miramar and Fanita Ranch.”
Learn more about Preserve Wild Santee at facebook.com/PreserveWildSantee
January 28, 2013 (Ocotillo) - A reader on our Facebook page posted that when she drove east over the Mountains into Ocotillo recently at night, she was startled to see an array of blinking lights that resembled an "alien invasion."
Ocotillo resident Jim Pelley sent us this photo of the "invaders" -- nearly 100 wind turbines flashing red blinking lights all night long. The developer, Pattern Energy, promised officials and community members before the project was built that lights would only come on if an aircraft was approaching. But as this photo indicates, the reality for Ocotillo residents is far different. Three similar projects are proposed near homes in rural East County and beside campgrounds in McCain Valley, a federal recreation area.
January 24, 2013 (McCain Valley) – Charles and Laurie Baker enjoy hiking in McCain Valley and the rugged Carrizo Gorge. They have submitted numerous photos of rocks containing large holes suitable for hawks and eagles to nest in, or perch on while scanning the valley below for prey. This is an area close to the proposed Tule Wind project, which the Bakers fear could harm a pair of golden eagles that they have recently seen while gazing across this hidden but spectacular landscape toward Lost Valley Rock.
January 12, 2012 (Jacumba) -- This week's winter storm brought an unusual treat for residents of Jacumba, elevation 2850: snow! Danielle Cook took these photos outside Jacumba Hot Springs, where a light dusting of snow blanketed the area. Don't rush out to visit, though -- it's already melting away in the mid-day sun.
January 9, 2013 (Anza Borrego) – Daren Sefcik photographed these spectacular images in the Anza Borrego Desert State Park. This endangered Peninsular Bighorn Sheep ram was spotted in a canyon between Potrero and Squaw canyons near Agua Caliente campground. “We were out backpacking for four days through there, “Sefcik says. He also captured this beautiful sunrise over Whale Peak, photographed from Fish Creek.
January 5, 2013 (Boulevard) – It’s clear they weren't plowing fields at this ranch in Boulevard, where a heavy snowfall created these winter wonderland scenes on New Year’s Eve taken by Melody Ponchot.
January 4, 2013 (San Diego's East County)--ECM editor Miriam Raftery photographed this healthy-looking flock of wild turkeys near Cuyamaca. There is some debate on whether turkeys are native or non-native in our region. Thousands of wild turkeys present today in our backcountry are descendants of wild turkeys released in 1993 by hunting groups. But it's quite possible that turkeys here are in fact a reintroduction ofdescendants from native birds that inhabited southern California eons ago.
Ancient remains of M. Califiornica, a now-extinct species of wild turkeys and a predecessor of modern turkeys, have been found in the La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles County.
December 31, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – A photo is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes. East County Magazine’s photographers and readers have compiled an impressive portfolio of dramatic images this year. These are our editor’s picks for the photos that create an emotional chord, from inspiration to anguish. We deeply appreciate our professional photojournalists and citizen photographers who helped document the images that defined the news and character of our region this year.
January 2, 2013 (Otay)--“Look out, Santee, here’s your future,” Tom Lemon writes, referring to the Quail Brush gas-fired peaker power plant proposed just outside of Mission Trails Regional Park. Curious to see what a peaker plant actually looks like – not just in drawings prepared by the developer—Lemon ventured to Otay Mesa, where a gas-fired peaker plant recently opened. Note: Peaker plants run intermittently to fill demand at peak power usage times. These photos were taken when the plant was not fired up. When in operation, the facility would include emissions visible from the smokestacks.
December 31, 2012 (San Diego's East County) -- A blanket of snow envelops our local mountains and rural areas this New Year's Eve. Melody Ponchot arose early to snap sunrise photos as the morning's first rays illuminate snow dusting trees across her ranch in Boulevard (left, right, and below, right)
Julie Salmons also sent in an image of the Laguna mountains (below, left), viewed from Descanso, wearing a crown of winter white.
December 29, 2012 (Cuyamaca) -- While driving through Rancho Cuyamaca State Park last week, ECM editor Miriam Raftery spotted several groups of deer grazing in the sun-dappled woods, including this doe, which paused to pose for a picture-perfect moment.
The best time to see deer is in the last hour before sundown; this photo was taken shortly before 4 p.m. just two days after the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.
December 29, 2012 (Mount Helix) -- "Ring around the moon, rain is coming soon," according to an old saying. There is truth to the statement, since a halo around the moon is caused by high cirrus clouds and a reflection off millions of ice crystals high up in the atmosphere that creates this irridescent rainbow-like effect. Moon halos were seen by many people across the eastern U.S. before Hurricane Sandy, for example.
ECM editor Miriam Raftery took this photo last night from Mount Helix--and sure enough, rain is forecast for today and tomorrow.
Decenber 26, 2012 (Cuyamaca) -- Turkeys for Christmas may conjure up images of a holiday dinner. But photographer Tom Lemon spotted this flock on Christmas Day while driving through Rancho Cuyamaca State Park. He suggests these turkeys should be grateful that they're living in a protected area where hunting is not allowed--or, perhaps, hoping more folks will choose ham for their next holiday feast.
December 25, 2012 (San Diego's East County) -- No, this isn't a preview of what East County might look like after a few decades of rising tides and global climate change. This image of Cowles "island" is in fact Cowles Mountain, surrounded not by water, but a sea of clouds.
Scroll down for a second image depicting the Grossmont Knoll and Cowles Mountain, adrift in early morning clouds viewed from Mount Helix. Both of these magical images were photographed by photographer Tom Lemon.
By Miriam Raftery
December 24, 2012 (Mount Helix) -- This Christmas Eve, enjoy Tom Lemon's gift to our readers. I've seen shadows cast by clouds on the earth below, but I'd never before seen shadow on top of the clouds.
Lemon snapped this unusual image from Mount Helix, looking down on pink-tinged clouds early in the morning to see the shadow of the mountain cast on the surface of the clouds.
December 21, 2012 (Mount Helix) -- Tom Lemon snapped this serene image depicting a sea of golden-hued clouds, taken from atop Mount Helix on a foggy mid-winter morning in San Diego's East County.
December 4, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – “Uncle Sam made sure everyone knew (well - everyone at Lake Murray on my 6 mile walk) it was their civic duty to vote today,” Greg Dunne wrote in an e-mail to ECM on election day, adding that he received enthusiastic comments from walkers, dog walkers, bicyclists, joggers and others. “Thanks to some great photography work from my walking buddy David,” he added. “Now it's off to vote,” said Dunne, who struck a “muscle pose” while modeling the costume made by his wife.
December 1, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Melody Ponchot has provided us with a dazzling set of photographs that are a study in contrasts, some shot in the snow-covered rural landscape around her home in Boulevard, others taken at Valley of the Moon, a boulder-strewn terrain east of Jacumba. In both places, there is tranquility in the rugged beauty of nature—from serene winter wonderland to jagged peaks in these wild and special vistas here in our own backyard.