Friday, June 25, 2010

A Great Day at Camp

Henry Thoreau said, "An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day." That certainly proved to be true today.
I led a group of a dozen members of the Art Camp on an early morning nature walk and we discovered a small alder covered with a white fuzz (top photo). I assumed it was some kind of fungus, but I had never seen this particular one before and I am far from a fungus expert. On another walk, later in the morning, I stopped with my companions for another look. This time the white stuff was moving! Then a group of young naturalists, ages 6 - 9, showed up with their leader. We all started poking at the white stuff and discovered it was full of bugs of some kind - fragile looking greenish ones. We had no appropriate collecting containers, so I've decided to go back tomorrow a.m. properly equiped and try to identify these mysterious (to me) new creatures.
The second photo is of a blackish growth on a young California Black Oak. This was pointed out to me by my companion on the second walk, Rex Burress. More about him below.
The third photo is of a scene that caught my eye for aesthetic reasons. A very tall specimen of Salsify, or Goatsbeard, had fallen down or been knocked down, probably when it was finished flowering. The "buds" of this composite look about the same before and after flowering. This one had finished flowering as we could see hints of the seed pappi forming inside. But it was still "green" enough when it fell to exhibit its natural negative geotropism, that is, to grow away from the pull of gravity, thus we see this gentle, upward curve. Nothing spectacular, I suppose, but to an avid Salsify-watcher, it was an exciting find. Click on the photo for an enlargement and enjoy the details.
The next photo is of naturalist Rex Burress photographing the most exciting discovery in camp this season - so far - the Mountain Lady Slipper. I met Rex two years ago via the internet but never met him in person until today. Rex was the camp naturalist at Oakland Feather River Camp for over twenty years after a number if years as a naturalist for the parks in Oakland. We have exchanged nature notes and photos for two years and I have been most anxious to meet him in person as he is not only a wonderful human being but a fount of natural history knowledge. Today he showed me several of his favorite spots and trails around camp that I had not yet discovered, and these will definitely enhance my nature walks for the rest of the summer. And he introduced me to his "friend" in the bark of a huge Ponderosa Pine. Rex says that this face, created by woodpeckers, has been in this spot for over 15 years. All in all, a great morning of discovery and sharing.

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