Sunday, March 24, 2013

Part Two of a Spring Hike

 The first butterfly I saw on this walk, also the first one I've seen anywhere this spring, was a Mourning Cloak.  I could tell from its flight pattern that I wouldn't be able to get very close, so I decided to switch to my telephoto.  Not quick enough.  It took off.  I didn't expect to see another butterfly, but a few yards away we came to a little microclimate, a puddle in the road where several species of butterflies had gathered.  They weren't as skittish as the Mourning Cloak, so it was easy to get some photos.  The first one, above, landed on a branch of a young cottonwood.  My butterfly knowledge and field guides are limited, but this one seems to resemble the Commas, genus Polygonia sp.  Anyone who knows the butterflies is welcome to post an ID in the comment section below.
 Always an exciting find when tipping over pieces of bark and small logs is the scorpion.  First one for me this spring, this one seemed to be about 1 1/2 inches long when the tail is straightened, which happened briefly as it tried to run away.
 This young Ponderosa Pine looked cute to me at the base of a large Black Oak.  I noticed there were no adult pines close enough to have dropped a cone or seed here, so I assume some animal transportation.  This was in a grove of mostly oaks, and there many active squirrels on this day.
 A wider view is closer to what it looked like when I came upon the scene.  SOme young firs in the background might have gotten here the same way.  No adults of this species nearby.
 I love early-season moss when nothing else around is green.  It seems to make the green appear to glow. 
 Here's some young Mullein breaking ground among a stand of older stalks.  Mullein is a biennial, producing the tall, flowered stalks in the second year of growth.  After the second summer, the stalks die and dry out, but they might remain standing for several more years if the winters are not too harsh.
 Here's a better view of the stand of old stalks.   This area is west of Gilson Creek and close to a RR tunnel that passes through the treed ridge in the background.
 The Blue-eyed Mary have suddenly appeared.  These were once in the Family Scrophulariaceae or Figworts, and still are in my most recent field guide.  Maybe the botanists are undecided.  These are so tiny, they are easy to overlook, but worth a trip down on your hands and knees.
 Many photos in this blog have featured my left thumb.  I figure it looks more natural than a ruler.  My thumbnail is 5/8" wide, so I'd estimate the width of the flower to be about 3/16".
An even smaller little beauty is one I've posted here three years in a row, begging my botanist followers to identify it for me.  Meanwhile, I'll just enjoy looking at it.  They're springing up and blooming in the warmer, south-facing areas around Quincy.  My dirt parking space at home is on a north-facing slope and I'd guess these won't appear for another month, but when they do they are plentiful.   There will be a part three to this travelogue as I still have photos of other butterflies and flowers to share.


  1. Not an expert but a person with a lot of field guides. My best guess is this is a Hoary Comma/polygonia gracilis. Using the Butterflies through Binoculars book I came upon this conclusion by looking at the maps as to which commas show up in your area and this one is the only one that should be out this early. Also its food plant is currants, which leaf out and bloom early. I couldn't make a definitive call from photos or field marks. Remember this a best guess.

  2. Thanks, Sandy. I'll look into it further. I'm pleased to think I might have at least got the right genus.