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2017-08-07 Warner Valley With The SDNHM Team

Science Team In The Field

The science team from the San Diego Natural History team have taken on a project to survey the biology at several inland wetland areas. I missed out on the previous trip to the San Felipe Valley due to personal projects at home. I’m preparing to get underway for a rather long excursion through the intermountain west, and I almost missed out on this trip into the Warner Valley.

The plots under this study lie within the upper San Luis Rey River Valley between Route 79 and the north face of Palomar Mountain. Long have I passed this valley on my way to some adventure and wished to have access to explore the grasslands and riparian habitat I could see in the distance. This museum field trip provided me with a brief opportunity to put boots on the ground and investigate the area more closely. I was not disappointed. This small corner of San Diego County remains one of the few minimally developed sectors of the county. One can almost envision how the countryside looked before Europeans arrived. Aside from the missing native grasses and Grizzly Bears, and the grazing cattle it could be nearly the same.

There were several members on the science team I’d not met before. Some were students, and some were museum staff I’d missed meeting before. As usual, though all members belong to a special class of folks who hold the natural world in high esteem. (My kind of people!)

I didn’t stay the full term camping with the science team on this expedition. I had to leave early to continue my preparations for the upcoming Intermountain West trip that will include an attempt to chase the August 21 solar eclipse with my friend Jerry from Albuquerque. Had I stayed longer I would have worked on capturing bird images, but Rat Theater creature, camp activities, field work and habitat images were all I had time for.

I bought a new lens, and I was able to give it a test run while I was with the team. I had it in mind to use the lens in the Rat Theater, but it is an ideal landscape lens. For those technophiles among you, the lens is the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f2.8E ED VR. It focuses on objects as near as 15” (from the “film plane”), which qualifies it as a useful for the Rat Theater work. The workhorse lens I’d been using has been the AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f2.8G IF-ED, which is an exceptional piece of glass, but being a fixed focal length, it requires me to scoot forward for the smallest subjects and back for the larger ones. I swapped between each of these lenses to insure the results would include images from each lens and a comparison could be made. I’m pleased with the results.

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