El Cerrito, San Diego

The little hill is filled with small, well-proportioned bungalows; these were first built back in the 1950s and now sympathetically updated, many with exquisite, desert gardens. The views in the warm, brilliant light of an October evening are reminiscent of a David Hockney painting.

Old Chevy

In the back garden, the Anna’s hummingbirds announce their arrival with a sharp “ti tuck…tuck”, then perch on high lookouts and nectar on the orange blossoms. Other back garden birds come to the water baths in the heat of the day.

Back garden view

A Baja California treefrog calls from somewhere next to the small water feature; their ‘ribbit ribbit’ calls have become the standard because the species is commonly found in the Hollywood hills and hence was always the one recorded as part of the background sound in early films or used in cartoons.

A small canyon holds a 30 strong flock of ravens that gather to feed on food thrown over the fence for ground squirrels. There is a red-tailed hawk that hunts from the tall eucalyptus trees, also a red-shouldered hawk that adopts the same strategy. A sharp-shinned hawk sits for a second on a garden fence; this dashes after the small birds.

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