Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Charming insects, upcoming adventures, Yosemite-as-homework & braving the fair...

'Round the Property

This young grasshopper nymph TOTALLY stole my heart. SO TINY.

European honeybee descending into a California poppy

This year I noticed California poppies' first appearances in the morning.

I'd never noticed them undressing like this, before. Super cool.

Upcoming Adventures

I'll be doing fieldwork regularly starting next week. Here's the new job site.

Technically that is across the street fm. the "action area"
but that means it's beautiful and will stay that way.

So, I will be out and about pretty much every week,
so hopefully will get lotsa fun photos phor you. =)

Took a side route home fm. the 1st job site visit so I could check out
BLM's Red Hills Area of Critical Environmental Concern. 

That SUPER DRY, pale blue & green & grey stuff on the hill is very Red Hills-y.

Lots of clarkia were blooming their HEARTS out.

I believe this is Clarkia biloba.

And this during a multi-year drought.
I have so much respect for how tough clarkia are.


So, to prep for upcoming fieldwork, I did some nature-study in Yosemite last weekend.

It was rough, as you might expect. =)

The western azalea is blooming in Yosemite Valley, and it smells AMAZING.

And we saw cobalt milkweed beetles that day, too.

Absolutely STUNNING insects. Photos can't do their shining magnificence justice.

Photo Phrenzy

Just turned in photos to a nearby county fair,
so I'll def. post about how that went,
EVEN if I win absolutely nothing. =)

but that was for our county.

What I entered just now is a nearby county's fair.
And it's MUCH bigger.
So I could definitely get NOTHING.
But, it's just a great opportunity to ogle other people's work,
and to force myself to print and mount some of my images.

And thanks to Shelly at MObugs for getting me blogging again.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Snapshots of spring

 This hymenopteran (tiny bee? wasp?) was DOA, discovered while I was weeding.
It is SO TINY I had to carry it on a saucer
with a glass over it to keep it from blowing away. 

The irises are blooming, now. Not all of 'em, but this one is going at it. =)
See the TEENY tiny thrip?
An extremely small insect
living in an impossibly beautiful place.

Western fence lizard watching me photograph irises.
I'm not sure that's an approving gaze... 

The "beard" in bearded irises reminds me SO strongly of nudibranchs.
I'm JUST in love with irises. And the ones I have smell amazing, too. That's a requirement. =)

A local native, golden brodiaea. Beautiful buttery yellow faces beaming up at you.
Even with the drought, they're making a good showing.
They're just shorter than usual, if I remember correctly.
Yay, natives! 

An extremely tiny spider (crab spider) atop a pale owl's clover flower.

For a sense of how tiny thrips are, look at the pale part of the bloom,
center left edge. 

Zooming WAY in, there's a few thrips.
Can you find this tiny section in the previous photo?

One last moody gaze from a still-unfurling iris, this year's very first.

A great thing about irises, since I am clearly deeply in love with them,
is that they love OUR climate.

They don't need summer water.
They just sit there, high and dry, through the drought,
waiting for the rainy season to return.

Lovely, since my standards for the drought tolerance
of plants I'll allow in our garden is rising every year.

I hope your spring (or fall) is progressing beautifully.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Stunning stilt striding, and other natural delights--it's been a good week

With weather like this, and longer days, I've been outside more.

Which means more photo phun.

Western kingbird, same place. Always beautiful. That stunning yellow underbelly knocks me out. 

 White-faced ibis (Merced NWR).
Not always the most helpful name, but what a ridiculously regal bird.

 Husband spotted this creature & knew I'd want to see it.

Holy. Wow.
I love that face.

Learned from Twitter friends (@ta_wheeler) and
that though it looks like a crane fly, it's not a fly at all
(flies have 2 wings, this creature has 4).

and the only representative of its genus among the Pacific states.

I am so glad I got to meet it.

Last, but not least, the first confirmed painted lady I've seen here this year.

I took this photo because twitter-folks (@ErikRunquist @eButterfly_org)
are interested in tracking their migration.

And I'm so very glad I was therefore motivated to encounter this charming animal.

I hope spring is springing forth merrily (northern hemisphere),
or fall is falling elegantly (southern hemisphere),
wherever you are.



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Flinging photos: Sierra Nevada lower-montane life in early March

 This appeared at our window last night & I almost had a heart attack:
It's a ceanothus silkmoth (ID thanks to @CrawliesWithCri), 3.5-5 inch wingspan. AMAZING.

Just look at that gorgeous abdomen! So stylish, jeepers.

After taking some photos w/my confused camera (why shooting at night??)
I went back inside & turned off our lights so it would stop being confused by us,
and continue on toward finding a mate, or whatever it would normally do. =)

So, walking in the dark house, smiling quietly,
my husband said, "Welcome to Samantha National Park."

I'm glad he understands. =)

Baby Blue Eyes and Friends

Photographed first baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii) on our property this year, March 3rd.

When I uploaded the photo, saw I captured one of
the so tiny (presumed) globular springtails in focus. So cute!
If you scroll back up to the flower photo, can you find the tiny bug?

For amazing shots of all kinds of these cuties,
much clearer, and much closer up,

Truly, his work is superb,
and there's such diverse colors & patterns in these species.
He finds them in leaf piles on the ground. So, so cool.

Love and Death

Just this morning, saw evidence of a spidery romance on our window...
I think it's a female up top, and a male down below.

"So, Bob. How'd the date go last night?"

(no response)


Presumed female looks as innocent as possible...
batting her perty eyelashes.

Dating in the spider world is risky business.

Other Visitors

Teddybears of the insect world, a bee fly appeared recently.
Super hard species to get good photos of--they're very speedy and restless. 

For much better photos:
The subfamily Bombyliinae has lots of the fuzzy types.
Check out this shot--WOW. SO CUTE!

We flung out some birdseed & got lovely visitors, including this spotted towhee (Pipilo maculatus).

The redberry (Rhamnus ilicifolia) is blooming--it's an extremely subtle event.
At least to us. Lots of tiny bugs are floating around it, so for them it's shouting.
Those teensy green blooms are barely discernible to my eyes.
Squinting hard I can pick out the white stigma to know which are open.

Miner's lettuce (Claytonia spp.) is also blooming happily.

 Another fan of the birdseed: a brave western gray squirrel.

 And last, early for Easter, a black-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) plays peek-a-boo.

Happy spring!


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Feeder frenzy, fawn photobomb and fabulous fungi

It was a cold morning and I'd just flung a bunch of wild bird seed out.
The birds rewarded us with early morning visits.

Two hungry acorn woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicivorus)
neatly photobombed by a mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) fawn.

THREE acorn woodpeckers on one pinecone. Impressive.
Especially the one that's upside down.
I also like that one tiny bit of feed falling 'neath them.

Sticking the tongue out.

First saw these two Steller's jays (Cyanocitta stelleri)
and wondered why the little one was standing its ground in the face of a larger one.

And then I thought: oh... the little one is probably the offspring of the big one.*
And rather than threatening with the big mouth, it's saying, "Feed me!"
It's a theory.*

Since we've gotten a bit of rain these last few weeks,
the hygroscopic earthstars (Astraeus hygrometricus) unfurled again,
much to my delight.

I love this olive green one... so elegant.

Nice beige, crackly one.

This one shows JUST how much they can look like an exploded acorn.

So, that's some of the things kicking around the property in February.

I will be posting more images of birds
and the early-blooming flowers soon.

In the meantime, here's to more rain here in the west! Woo-hoo!

xoxoxo bb

*Yes, it's a theory, but it's probably wrong. Two smarties commented that
this sort of behavior is common in mated pairs. Flirting, basically. =) Thanks, peeps!