Monday, May 23, 2016

Warm Fuzzies,,,,

I drove out to Oakland Camp yesterday afternoon to see what I could see.  I had low expectations.  Just wanted to get away from grading essays for a while.  My first stop was by the small stand of Mountain Ladyslippers a short distance past the bridge over Spanish Creek.  As I kneeled down to take a few photos, I heard a voice from deeper into the woods.  Something about Ladyslippers and Coralroot.  I walked up hill to see who it was.  A young, well-equipped photographer was photographing Ladyslippers, some specimens a little less covered with pine pollen than the ones I was photographing.  We chatted a while, and I discovered he had driven here from Redding to take these photos.  I asked how he knew they were here.  he said a natural history blog by a guy named Joe Willis!  That's me!!!  He thanked me profusely for this and other tips he had found on my blog, and he gave me his card.  He's a REAL photographer.  Check out his work at  His name's Tim Boomer.  His photography is better than mine.  As I remind my followers from time to time, I'm a story teller interested in all things natural.  I supplement my stories with adequate (I hope) photos and sketches, but I know that several of followers and friends are much more serious photographers than I am, and I love to point people toward their work.  Another, who comments here from time to time, is Spencer Dykstra.  After exchanging "warm fuzzies" with Tim, I drove on down the road and got lots of interesting photos.  It's the one above that gave me the idea for the title of today's post.  The bee on a blossom of Checker Bloom looked warm and fuzzy, but I decided not to test my hypothesis.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Celebrate May

 I've been getting inquiries in my email about the status of various wildflowers in our area.  Lots of people inquire specifically about the Mountain Lady Slipper (above), and I realize I am behind schedule.  That is, behind the schedule people began to expect of me when I was posting once or twice a day over long periods.  But it is now the 14th of May, and this is only my second post.  Well, yesterday I got all my semester exams written and printed, and my exams will be administered Monday and Tuesday.  Then I'll start celebrating May more thoroughly on this site. 

The Mountain Lady Slippers, Cypripedium montanum, are in full bloom on the road into Oakland Camp.  Most likely they are also blooming along Taylor Creek which crosses Chandler Road northeast of downtown Quincy.  I won't get more specific than that because I don't want to instigate a botanical gold rush. 
 Other May flowers include the Western Dog Violet which are very abundant this year.  I have photographed them on the FRC campus and also near the aforementioned Lady Slippers.
 I chased this bumblebee for quite a while.  It seemed to land on a different blossom every few seconds.  It was quite heavy, from the flowers' perspective, so every time it landed the flower dropped by several inches, then sprung back upward when the bee left.  It must of been a fun ride, although not as much fun as actual flying.  I don't really know if bees see things this way.
The Showy Phlox are also out on many sunny slopes in the area.  This cluster was seen in the "Pocket" area on the way out to Oakland Camp.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

On the way down Monument Peak

Well, I blinked, and a whole week went by.  I was just now trying to post a few wildflower photos I took last weekend on my way down from Monument Peak (see photo of my in most recent post), but the bandwidth provided by ATT in my neighborhood is so pathetic that I couldn't even upload one photo.  So, tomorrow morning, probably at the coffee shop, I'll post at least one photo of Checker Bloom, Sidalcea glaucescens.  This is a beautiful, crawling vine (or at least prostrate stem) with bright pink flowers.  I saw only one such plant, but others will come, and soon they will be decorated with the Checkered Clerid Beetles.  I hope.  :)

There: added photo Monday afternoon.  Hopefully, more tomorrow afternoon.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

April's Done

All I can say at the moment is that April has been a pretty good month for hiking and wildflower watching, but not for blogging.  I've taken at least a dozen outings with camera and notebook, but only posted three times.  Rather frustrating.  Not enough time in a day, not enough Internet bandwidth at home, not enough time to wait for the slow uploading, and too many distractions - the rather scary presidential election campaign not the least of them.  I do have a growing archive of photos taken in April, so we'll see what develops here.  Exciting short drive yesterday yielded my first spotting of Scarlet Fritillary.  Lots of them!  Also, lots of Saxifrages blooming on rock walls, Hartweg's Iris blooming through the pine needles, and lots of Red Larkspur along the roadsides.  Hopefully, if I'm fresh in the morning, I'll catch up a bit with more photos and reports.  My wife got the above shot of me on the top of Monument Peak, looking more or less westward.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Table Mountain - Chapter 3

 I've taken a dozen short photo excursions since my March 26 trip to Table Mountain, but had little time to post the results.  Due to my poor Internet connection at home, it took nearly 20 minutes to upload these eight photos.  Maybe I can catch up at a local coffee shop tomorrow where the Internet speed is at least an order of magnitude faster.  Today's set of photos reminds me of something I read a long time ago in the anthropology literature.  In tracing the development of words for colors, researchers have found isolated indigenous cultures that have very few words for colors and these are presumably among the first words humans invented for colors.  Predominant are blue, green, yellow and red.  This makes sense - sky, water, foliage, and edible fruits, the basics for survival.  The above scene is typical of those sections of Table Mountain with rolling hills.  The four main colors can be seen here, especially if you click on the photo for a closer view.  Ah, the illusion of wilderness.
 This next photos, from a distance, looked like the Seep Spring Monkeyflower, but on closer inspection was one of the several local species of yellow violets.  I believe it's Viola purpurea.
A variety of this violet started blooming around Quincy a week or so ago, nearly a month behind Table Mountain.  I photographed our local variety yesterday, but I'll need to post another 8 or 9 blog entries before I get to it.
 Here's another view of Viola purpurea more in context.  The whole hillside was wet and muddy, and there were some of the aforementioned Monkeyflowers.  Note that the leaves of this violet are well-hidden by the surrounding grasses and leaves of other wildflowers.  The leaves are a distinguishing characteristic of the species.
 Great expanses of yellow wildflowers like this are iconic Table Mountain scenes.  The usual dominant species in such scenes are Golden Carpet and Goldfields.
 Here are a couple of views of the Common Fiddleneck, a "cousin" of the Forget-me-nots, Family Boraginaceae.
 Then, a strong reminder of the fact that I was not in wilderness.  But I did manage to imagine wolves, coyotes, and mountain lions swooping in to dine of the cows.
 Finally, a nice little crop of wild onions and Goldfields.
I plan to post at least two more chapters of my Table Mountain experience, then move on to the local photography I've been doing around Quincy.  What's most exciting for me is the entrance of various arthropods to the scenes of Spring.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Not Exactly Foetal, but...

...when I've had a rough day, I wish I could do this.  Found by the Snake Lake Road, under a piece of pine bark..

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Chapter 2 at Table Mountain

 I happen to be sitting in a place with high speed Internet.  I was able to add all ten of these photos in less than one minute.  With our pathetic service at home, it would have taken closer to an hour.  So, when I get home, I can spend some time adding the stories (text loads fast even there) to this and my previous post.  What's clear in my mind, but may or may not appear clear after I type, is a kind of linear story of the experience I had last Sunday at Table Mountain.  The story's skeleton is a sequence of observations captured by camera, but what will be added to the skeleton are the many conversations with my buddy Spencer that gave meaning to these observations.

4/8/16  Time flies, doesn't it.  Here I am, finally adding some text to this old post.  And I have at least two more "chapters" to add to my Table Mountain excursion.  Since that trip, I have made several more local trips around Quincy, including two brief walks this morning, which yielded more photos of Spring.

Back to Table Mountain.  These first two photos of Bitterroot were the first I found after the false alarm of red plastic that ended my previous post.  As you will see in later images, we eventually
found a large patch of fully-open Bitterroot. 

Several species of Lupines grow on and near Table Mountain.  These small ones were found near most of the streams, but not so much out in the open in areas that are already getting dry.  The one below appears to be an albino of the same species as the blue ones.

Bird's-eye Gilia (below) is one of the most beautiful flowers (to me) on the mountain, but the delicate details in each flower are easily missed in the sheer abundance of them unless one takes the time to get down on the ground for a closer look.  You can get the same effect without getting your pants dirty by clicking on the image.

Around Quincy, when we took this trip in March, the first yellow violets of the season, Shelton's Violet, were just beginning to bloom.  At Table Mountain, another species, Viola purpurea, the Oakwoods Violet, was blooming.  It's possible Douglas's Violet is also blooming down there, but we did not see any.

One of the many lilies, formerly known as Brodiaea, is the Prettyface.  It is now known as Triteleia ixioides, and is in a new family,  the Themidaceae.  We have a closely-related species at the higher elevations around Quincy. 


The Popcornflower were out in abundance. Click on the photos for an enlargement and you can see the kinship with the flowers of Forget-me-nots and Fiddleneck.

Scenes like this temporary stream are common at this time of year and tend to be where most species of flowers bloom, and also where frogs and salamanders can be found before they go into hiding for the long, dry summer and fall ahead.

The Dwarf Monkeyflower has some of the most amazing color on the mountain.