Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Clairvoyent Naturalist?

On my way up to the office this morning, I made my usual stop at this little patch of daisies.  What first caught my eye was what had been the freshest daisy of the bunch, the one on the far left.  It was injured!
I came in for a closer look, and was surprised to see the one Ambush Bug that had been occupying it was still there!
Hanging on, beneath the flower, it seemed oblivious to being upside-down.  I wondered if any food species were likely to land on an upside-down flower.  Finally, after getting this photo, I turned my attention to the flower on the right.  Yesterday, under the title "Reincarnation?", I had ended the text by pondering what might happen if a tasty-looking prey species landed right in front of the amorous couple.
Well, here we are.  Click on this photo and you can probably make out the fly on top.  It appears that the top Ambush Bug, the male, is able to have sex and eat at the same time.  They answered my question!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Onward to Grizzly Peak

 Two more wildflower photos from Brady's Camp, then onward to Grizzly Peak to search for the Devil's Punchbowl.  The above pair of Monk's Hood coming off the same stem intrigued me.  I couldn't get a good angle for the photo without using my hand.  THe flowers were hanging very low in dense grass.
 The Checker Mallow was not plentiful, but the ones we saw looked fresh.  After about a half hour of walking around and taking pictures, we head several miles westward to the road up toward Grizzly Peak.  I hadn't been there since last summer, so some of the intersections were confusing.  Some of my favorite landmarks are probably now parts of houses.
Since my last visit, they've closed the road at this point.  When I came here in my 2WD van, I went another 500 feet up the grade and got stuck.  Maybe a number of people have had the same experience, thus the barrier.  Anyway, we parked in the shrubs to the left and began our hike.  Tomorrow I'll post wildflower close-ups and scenic vistas including views of the inside of Devil's Punchbowl.


 I think I posted a premature obituary here last Thursday, the 23rd, titled "R. I. P., or Carry On?"  Over the following weekend, not only did I see no Ambush Bugs, but also the Daisies seemed nearly dead.  This morning, on my way up the hill to my office, I thought I spotted anew bug (above).  He/she is back!  I immediately thought of a comment attributed to Mark Twain: "Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated."  AS the below photo shows, there's just one fairly healthy-looking Daisy remaining in this little patch, and this bug was on it.  It may or may not be one of the bugs I first noticed a week ago.
 So, I went up to the office and worked for a couple of hours, then checked in on this spot on my way down to the car.
 Yikes!  The moment(s) I'd been waiting for.  While the bug in the top photo hadn't moved, now these two occupied one of the other daisies and were obviously in love!
 This one is looking at the amorous pair on the neighboring flower.  This one appears to be a female.
I pulled the two flowers a bit closer together so I could get a picture of all three.  Ever since I came across a little paperback book titled Six-legged Sex, I've been finding and photographing lots of insects mating.  Now I'm wondering what would happen if a tasty-looking bug of another species landed within range of the mating pair.  Maybe I'll get to witness such an encounter one of these days.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

On our way to Grizzly Peak and the Devil's Punchbowl

 Starting with the incredible Monk's Hood, this is the first of two or three posts on what we found around Brady's Camp last Friday.  The foothills of Argentine Peak were looking pretty dry on the way up with Squirrel Creek barely flowing.  However, around the little campground called Brady's Camp, there was enough water flowing through the meadow on the north side to support a good variety of wildflowers like the Monk's Hood (above) and the Ranger's Buttons (below).

 There were Corn Lilies blooming on both sides of us - at the edge of aforementioned meadow as well as around the dried-up creek bed to the South.  The creek bed looked a bit damp, so there might still have been some water flowing or seeping beneath the surface.  There was quite a good variety of helthy=looking woldflowers in and around the creek bed.
 A very nice stand of Paintbrush, and occasional ...
 clusteres of Checker Mallow (above) in the family that gave us the original Marsh Mallow (before Kraft or some similar entity turned it into sugar and air.
 Pine Drops, a member of the Heath or Wintergreen family were under the pines and firs all over the area.
 A white specimen of Monk's Hood.  I think it's the same species, just a variant, but I look into that further and correct myself if I'm wrong.
 My colleague, Joan Parkin, tried out my camera.  I can't do "selfies" with it.  This gives a rough idea of the surroundings near the creek bed.  Mostly Lodgepole Pine and Red Fir.
 Standing amongst the Leopard Lilies which extended for at least an acre, I could have stayed here for hours just photographing Leopard Lilies.
 A sampler. 
My favorite flower photo from this area, or tied with the Monk's Hood at the top.
Part II coming after dinner.

Golden Eagle Weed Inventory, Part II

 For Part I, scroll back to Thursday, July 23.  Here are ten more photos taken on a short drive down Golden Eagle Avenue, the entry road to Feather River College.  Fortunately, the weed eaters only cut about 10 feet from the edges of the pavement.  That leaves plenty of uncut area for observing and photographing wildflowers, both native and non-native, and the bugs that visit them.  The top photo here is Goldenrod, a member of the Sunflower or Aster family.
 Bachelor's Buttons come in many colors and are in the same genus as Star Thistle.
 Teasel is prolific along the South or pasture side of the road, especially close to Highway 70.
 Another view of Teasel.
 I never tire of photographing Chicory. The stamens and pistils are so intricate, and may different insects and spiders visit all through the summer.  And, a little ground up root improves coffee.
 Chamomile resembles miniature daisies.
 Yarrow, also a member of the Aster family.
 Wild Sweet Pea.  More attractive the closer you get.
 Gum Plant with an insect visitor.  Not sure whether it's a wasp or bee or fly mimicking such.
Different stages in the blossoming of Gum Plant. 

Hiking Poles and Duct Tape, a Marriage Made in Heaven?

 In my previous post, I poked gentle fun at people for bringing urban accouterments to their so-called wilderness experiences.  I must admit I have poked fun at my wife for using hiking poles, even though I am now more aware of their importance for protecting her knees.  And she has made a quip or two about my carrying a roll of duct tape.  Well, on yesterday's hike one of her poles came apart and we couldn't fix it in the recommended manner.  As you can see in the above and below photos, my duct tape came to the rescue.  We hiked a total of ten miles with several thousand feet of elevation change.  Today, she reports no knee problems. 
So, this pairing worked out fine.  I still refuse to bring a cell phone on my hikes.  :)

Multiple Use and Abuse?

On an all-day hike on one of the lesser-used trails in the Lakes Basin, we shared the trail at times with cows, and cowboys, and YUPPIES, but mostly hiked alone.  Friendly encounters withe the few humans we met.  But evidence of the presence of humans, cows, and horses along the trail between times raised questions about multiple use and abuse.  On this particular hike, mountain bikers were not a part of the mix, but elsewhere in the Lakes Basin they would have been.  The above photo was taken by my wife as I held our dog to keep her out of trouble.  As Emma exhibited symptoms of her approach/avoidance conflict with cows, mixed with her urge to meet up with the cowboys' dog, she was also obviously aware of the presence of Marmots living under the rock in the background.  Earlier in the day we passed by this same rock and she got to chase a Marmot.  The increased popularity of this gorgeous area that embraces parts of adjacent national forests, the Plumas and the Tahoe, is motivating different sorts of preservation efforts at the same time it is destroying it.  I think the solution could be found in more walking without the accoutrements of urban living, electronic and otherwise, but I'm just dreaming.  I had a great time, but returned home with troubling questions.