Best Photos from our Readers and Staff
1st place wildlife photo, Bighorn Ram by Daren Sefcik (left) and 1st place landscape photo, Bridge to Opportunity by Gary Avant (right)
By Miriam Raftery
August 15, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) -- We received many amazing images from talented photographers across our region for our photography contest jointly sponsored by Assemblyman Brian Jones and East County Magazine.
Winners and honorable mentions in landscape and wildlife photographer were selected by judges in Sacramento and San Diego based on aesthetics, composition, and lighting. All photos were taken in the Assemblyman’s district in San Diego’s East County.
The list of winners and their photos are published below. Winning entries will also be displayed in Assemblyman Jones’ office in the state capitol. Congratulations to the winners – and to the many talented photographers who submitted entries!
August 6, 2013 (Jamul) – Debra Ekhaml spotted this Barn Owl in the Rancho Jamul Ecological Preserve. “Although the light was flat from clouds and I only had my small camera, you can clearly see he is a rust brown color, and not the usual white for around here,” she writes. “John Martin (F&W Biologist) said this is not unheard of, but very unusual. I thought it was different enough to send in. He was a very stunning bird-his color was just beautiful!”
July 30, 2013 (El Cajon) – Richard Campbell took this photo from his home in Fletcher Hills, looking east across a fog bank over the city of El Cajon.
July 22, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Bird Talk columnist Greg Dunne shared these images. He writes, “Out at my six-mile walk around Lake Murray Thursday towards the dam, I was treated to five fledgling Cooper's Hawks. I was able to observe them for quite a while.” The darker-backed Cooper's Hawks are the adults, he noted. “I could also tell the fledglings by their behavior, hopping around from branch to branch, making noise with their screeching, and just seeming unsure what to do next, while there was one that seemed a bit annoyed at all this commotion, and was a bit darker on the back side, and was a bit more poised than the young ones. A bit far away for good photos, but I really had a good time watching them.”
By Miriam Raftery
July 9, 2013 (San Diego's East County) -- Our readers have sent some dramatic images of the Chariot Fire, which as of tonight has scorched 4,850 acres and burned at least eight buildings.
Here are some of the most stunning images from our readers--and thanks to the many of you who sent in photos and news tips on this major story. (Note, additional photos were used in our earlier stories on this fire, all in our wildfire news section.)
Jim Pelley shot the photo, left, taken at sunset in Ocotillo.
July 5, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – ECM has received an eyewitness account from a former East County resident, Pamela Lopez-Davies, of the early hours of the Doce Fire, which claimed the lives of 19 firefighters in Yarnell, Arizona, including 18 from the Granite Mountain Fire Department’s hotshot team. The fire began on June 18 and as of today has scorched 8,277 acres. The blaze is 80% contained.
“While driving to Chino Valley, AZ at about 11:30 am on Tuesday June 18, I noticed a small plume of smoke in the vicinity of Granite Mountain,” said Lopez-Davies, who snapped these photos near her home in Prescott, Arizona.
July 1, 2013 (Jamul) – Debbie Ekhaml captured these close-up images of a Cooper's Hawk family in Jamul, as the fledgling hawks learn how to successfully hunt a sparrow. Cooper’s Hawks prey on birds and small mammals, even taking on prey larger than themselves such as ducks and chickens. They have sometimes been known to lose their lives for taking on the wrong prey, such as a large owl.
June 28, 2013 (San Diego's East County) - Lighting can transform a scene into a magical display. Milt Cyphert captured one of those golden magic moments with this photo, taken at a Laguna Mountain meadow.
June 20, 2013 (Santee) -- Assemblyman Jones (R-Santee) and East County Magazine announced today that they will host a photography contest that features photographs taken in San Diego’s East County. The winning photographs will be displayed in Assemblyman Brian Jones’ Capitol Office and featured in East County Magazine.
“It’s an honor to be able to highlight the photographers and the beautiful landscapes Eastern San Diego County has to offer,” Jones said.
Miriam Raftery, Editor of East County Magazine said, “East County Magazine appreciates this opportunity to showcase the works of talented local photographers. East County Magazine looks forward to publishing works displaying our region’s beautiful scenery and our historic communities.”
All entries must be received by July 15, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. to be eligible. For details, scroll down.
June 21, 2013 (Campo)--Mary Clark and her son, Jimmie, 3, enjoy an idyllic moment in the summer sun amid wildflowers next to their family's vineyard. Miriam Raftery captured the moment on a visit to the Campo Creek Winery earlier this month. The photograph illustrates the joy of rural living--a lifestyle treasured by many people in East County.
May 27, 2013 (Ocotillo) -- When Jim Pelley arose at sunrise and looked out over the desert from his home in Ocotillo, he noticed something missing. So he grabbed his camera to record the unusual sight.
A Siemens wind turbine at Pattern Energy's Ocotillo Express Wind Energy facility had hurled off a multi-ton blade onto a trail on public Bureau of Land Management recreational land. Fortunately, since the accident occurred at night, nobody was harmed.
May 24, 2013 (Mountain Springs) - Photographers Jim Pelley and Parke Ewing spotted a herd of endangered Peninsular Bighorn sheep preparing to cross I-8 in Mountain Springs, at the county line separating San Diego and Imperial Valley counties.
Residents report that wildlife is returning to the area over the past week, since wind turbines at the adjacent Ocotillo area have been silenced during the investigation into a blade that fell from a wind turbine.
How many sheep can you find ih the photo below? (click "read more" to view.) We don't know the answer, but Pelley says spotting the well-camouflaged sheep reminds him of playing "Where's Waldo."
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.