Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Overheated Brain?

 My report about last Thursday's adventures (6/27/13) included only four photos and I called it a preview.  In the five days that have passed since then we're gone from cool weather following a brief rainstorm to an outright heat wave.  It reached 109 degrees today in the Quincy area.  So, maybe I can blame my overheated brain for a few disorganized posts.  Here I have assembled a few more photos from last Thursday, but it's entirely possible that one or two of these were taken on the following days, but not today.  So, my posts of any hikes taken on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday might be a bit scrambled.  Then, my posts on yesterday's (Monday, 7/1) hike and today's are fresh memories, so I'll be back on track.

So, back to Thursday.  The rather inert Bumblebee resting on a Chickory blossom was photographed early Thursday morning near the Evening Primrose in the ditch in front of Safeway.  Most of the bugs hadn't yet woken up so the photography was easy.  I even picked up this Bumblebee and placed it on another flower without getting stung.
 Near the same ditch, the California Poppies hadn't yet opened up for the day.  When I drive by the same spot each afternoon, the poppies are fully opened and the Evening Primrose, among others, have closed for the day.  I love watching these daily cycles.  Makes me feel like I'm participating in natural rhythms rather than always trying to override them with light bulbs, AC, and other nature-cancelling devices.
 The stereotypical Dandelion seed ball is a dry, fluffy thing, awaiting disturbance so it can send its seeds onto people's lawns while provided delight to children.  On this particular dewy morning, I found this damp Dandelion intriguing.
 On the way into camp, I stopped by what is left of a once-large patch of Indian Hemp.  This plant is actually a dogbane and has now been combined with the milkweeds into a single family, the Apocynaceae.  The fibrous stems are a staple of Indian basket weaving.  They also happen to be amazing "bug magnets."  My favorite sighting in this spot was a Thread-waisted Wasp enjoying the nectar.  The Indian Hemp has just begun to bloom this season so the insect riot hasn't yet begun.  The close-up below shows the tiny, bell-like flowers and the sleek leaves.
 Also along the road into camp the Fireweed has begun to bloom.  The first photo was taken from about 3 feet away, then I zoomed in for a better look at the flowers which are in the same family as the Evening Primrose.  The Fireweeds along this road average 5 to 7 feet tall and are mostly growing on the right hand side of the road above the ditch.

 We have several thistles in the area and this Snowy Thistle literally shines as the bright red seems brighter than possible against the silvery white of the body of the plant.  Sometimes the Goldenrod Crab Spider will hang out on these blossoms, usually in its white phase, looking like a small white flower against the red.
 Finally, like a preview of several days of outstanding bug sightings, this Velvet Ant, which is actually a wasp, ran across the road in front of us.  It had probably sat in the sun for a while as it was very hyper and would not sit still for a photo.  If you click on it for a close-up you will find it slightly blurry.

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