Friday, May 4, 2012

Campus Diversion

There was a bit of a drizzle this morning when I headed up to the Learning Resource Center at FRC, so I left my camera in the car.  As usual, when I leave the camera behind, something really interesting happens.  As I left the LRC through the back door, I came across one of the healthiest patches of Pineapple Weed, Matricaria matricarioides, I've ever seen.  So I jogged back to the car to get the camera.  After taking a few closeups of the plant, I noticed a few stalks of Shepherd's Purse, Capsella bursa-pastoris, poking up through the thicket of Pineapple Weed.  The flowers on this member of the mustard family are so tiny that they're often left out of field guide illustrations in favor of showing the seed pods which give it its name.  That's what I've done with this photo.  I cropped out the tiny flowers and zoomed in closer to the seed pods.  My poking around in these plants chased a tiny Chorus Frog out of hiding.  He jumped several times, but quickly relaxed when picked up, so I got some nice close-ups of him on my thumb then a few more on my son's open hand.  He never tried to jump off.  Then we saw a very quick-moving moth or butterfly.  Took many shots of the gravel where it had just been before I finally got a pretty good close-up.  After a little online research, I've decided it was a Propertius Duskywing, a kind of skipper which is not a "true" butterfly, according to some sources.  I found lots of images of Erynnis propertius on different websites and also in my favorite field guide, and I'm pretty sure this is the correct ID. 
On the way back to the car, I couldn't help but stop to photograph the early stages of growth of two of my favorite weeds: Wooly Mullein, Verbascum thapsus, and some species of Thistle, Cirsium sp.
Looking forward to sunny weather tomorrow so I can explore the Slate Creek Road and Butterfly Valley.  I've been hearing rumors....

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