Saturday, April 23, 2011

Highlights of my walk

Took a nice excursion with my wife, sans camera, to the area on the Quincy-LaPorte Road between the Middle Fork of the Feather and Nelson Creek. As I was driving by a secluded little meadow, my wife spotted what was probably a Yellow-Bellied Marmot. Got out to have a look, obviously too slow to get a photo, even if I had brought my camera. Walking around the meadow, I began to notice tiny, barely blooming plants I didn't recognize. Took a few notes and vowed to come back. As "way leads on to way," when i returned home I decided to grab my camera and head off in another direction. This time, I headed for the beginning of the Keddie Cascades Trail to find the California Milkmaids. I took a couple of photos of them a week ago, and I was not satisfied. I thought this time, I won't go searching for new things but instead try to get better photos of ones I already had. This would include the Milkmaids, the Toothwort, Shooting Star, Buttercups, etc. Lo and behold, I spotted the flower in the top two photographs here. It was clearly a more advanced stage of the one I had seen with my wife earlier in the day. This time, it was more recognizable. Spring Gold, Lomatium utriculatum, a member of the carrot family, Apiaceae. This plant has a subtle beauty, easy to overlook when walking through the woods dodging rocks and sticks. But definitely worth a closer look - if for no other reason than to stumble across the magnificent Banana Slug, Ariolimax buttoni. I'll admit it's not fun to try to wash off the slime if you happen to handle one. So don't handle it! Very much fun to watch, however. I photographed this one at first close to the Spring Gold (third photo from top), then walked down the trail for a half hour or so. When I returned to this spot, the slug had moved about a foot (bottom photo). So, that's one thing I admire about slugs. They know how to slow down! Also, every time I see one of these giant beauties, I am reminded of a great video clip I have, a segment of a video titled "Way Cool Creepy Crawlies" in which two slugs are mating, very slowly, with an operatic aria as background music. Interesting that these slugs are hermaphroditic, but it still takes two to tango. But that's a natural history essay for another occasion.

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