Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The last half dozen from 2/11/12

I love acorns, and when I see beauties like these two, I think of many related things.  First, the acorn is an icon of Thoreau's last published work, Faith in a Seed, in which he said, "Show me that you have a seed there, and I will expect wonders."    He was, of course, greatly influenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson who once said, "The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn." An empty acorn cap makes a great whistle, and the tiny holes in the second acorn above are the entryways of either ant or wasp residents.  Also, when properly prepared, acorn flour makes wonderful baked goods.  Preparation means a series of soakings and rinsings in water to remove most of the tannic acid which can be rather hard on the kidneys.  The third photo down is of a young Live Oak.  The leaves on young trees as well as the lowest-hanging leaves on adult trees tend to be rather crisp and have spiny edges much like holly leaves.  This adaptation can discourage grazing by herbivores as well as reduce water loss.
If you've looked at my past few postings, you know I took lots of photos of Ladybugs (AKA Ladybird Beetles) here.  This species is the Convergent Ladybird Beetle, and you can see the converging white lines on the thorax.  Most of the ones we saw on Saturday had gathered on Yerba Santa, but we found a few on Lupine, and the group photo above shows 8 of them on a downed stem of Mullein.  Last, we have the budding of willows.  I'm not sure of the species, but there were several rather large willow trees hanging over Bear Creek, and the younger ones nearby had lots of buds low enough to the ground that short naturalists could easily photograph them.

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