I am available to lead individuals and small groups on natural history hikes in Plumas and adjacent counties. I have been exploring the northern Sierra for many years and am familiar with the flora and fauna, ecological relationships, and means of identifying plants and animals. I have also taught nature journaling and am willing to organize explorations with a focus on journaling. Prefer initial queries to be via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, I will be teaching a one-week intensive nature journaling workshop at the Feather River Art Camp (Held at Oakland Feather River Camp near Quincy) in June, 2013. Type Feather River Art Camp into any browser for details.
I have been teaching since 1965 and have recently started a writing/art/photography "career" via my own publishing company, Black Oak Publishing. I love where I live in the northern Sierra of California.
Certain Web Sites are lighting up with promotions of anticipated Fall Colors displays. In some places B&B's are already booked and restaurants anticipate making up for a slow summer. I've been out and about with my camera as usual, but on most days I have no specific goal. I expect to be surprised and pleased by what Mother Nature has to show me. I'm reluctant to invest a lot of money and drive a long distance in order to see one particular thing that might not happen, such as a gorgeous grove of golden-yellow Quaking Aspens against a bright blue sky backed by the snow-capped Sierra Buttes. This morning I did a little scouting around Quincy, and the brightest colors I saw were on the Virginia Creeper growing on a chain-link fence by the fair grounds. Any panoramic view I could visualize was actually rather ugly. Power lines breaking up the blue sky, litter from fast food restaurants, and the fence itself, made most views from a distance unattractive to me. Maybe the smell of rotting logs across the street was getting to me. So, I did what I usually do in such circumstances - take a closer look. Individual leaves (5 leaflets - above) look impressive when lit from behind by the sun.
Approaching even closer, the vein patterns are impressive.
Quincy often has bright blue skies, and photographers are often tempted, as I am, to make them even bluer on the computer. Today, I resisted. Blue enough!
I actually held this leaflet in my hand as I couldn't find one sufficiently isolated to get the effect I wanted. By the way, click on any of these for a closer view and more detail.
If you walk around looking at the ground a lot like I do, and you're not trying to find your contact lenses, you will stumble across the "hips" of the California Wild Rose. This one was at the side of Meadow Valley Road in a place where I saw nothing worth stopping for. That is, until I stopped. Then the wonders began to reveal themselves. A few Baneberry fruits were still hanging on near the spring a couple miles from town where lots of people stop to fill their water jugs.
I find it amazing that the Baneberry is in the Buttercup family, Ranunculaceae. The flowers look nothing like Buttercups. Then neither do Columbine, Larkspur, or Monkshood which are also in that family. One of these springs I'll photograph the flowers. So far, the only time I've spotted them, such as in Boyle Ravine, I haven't been carrying my camera. They're fairly non-descript from distance, so I need to return to one of the spots where I've recorded the presence of the berries in the fall.
The California Black Oak generally turns a kind of orange and is most impressive when large stands are interspersed with the Pines and Firs on hillsides. Occasionally, though, a few trees, especially young ones, will sport leaves that turn bright shades of red, orange and yellow while some leaves remain green. There can be nearly a rainbow in an individual tree. The two most reliable such trees that I've found are two young ones in front of Papa's Donuts in East Quincy. Today, both trees are mostly green, but a few "suckers" (above) are showing some bright colors. A closer look at the larger of the two trees (below) shows that this year they might turn mostly brown. We'll see. If that happens during peak season, I'll just go inside for a colorful donut or two.
Now that fall has begun, most flowers are long past blooming. Goldenrod and Rabbit Brush (below) are exceptions. Since they and Chicory are among the few still blooming, the bees tend to congregate around them, Here I caught a close view of a Carpenter Bee on a blooming Rabbitbrush near the library at FRC. Every time I stop there in the afternoon there are lots of Honeybees, Skippers, a few Thread-waisted Wasps, and assorted other insects on the Rabbitbrush. Enjoy while you can. They, too, have to get ready for winter.
While poking around the shrubs at the edge of Meadow Valley Road, I found lots of Western Fence Lizards zipping around, mostly too fast for me to photograph. I did manage to close in on one who probably didn't think I saw him. I'm sure they're hunting insects like crazy and trying to fatten up before going underground or into rotting tree trunks to wait out the winter.
I wonder if these two Honeybees were kissing each other good-bye before hunkering down for winter.
I hope I've made the case that there's lots to see in the fall even if the conventional "fall colors" don't live up to their billing.