Saturday, September 28, 2013

Seasonal Change and Microhabitats

 Yesterday I re-visited several of my favorite places on campus and enjoyed the subtle changes from earlier in the week.  The Oak Treehopper population is diminishing. This branch supported several dozen young ones just a few weeks ago.  Their mother, as far as I can tell, is the one on the far right, an olive drab color with orange spots (top photo).  Most of her babies, as you can see in earlier posts, had black and white lateral stripes with a few red accents.  In what to me is an amazing bit of developmental magic, most of them turned into adults with longitudinal red and white stripes.  And those red eyes are pretty impressive, too.  A behavioral difference that got my attention was the fact that a week ago none of them would move at all when I came in close with the camera.  Or, at least the babies wouldn't move.  The mother would sometimes slowly try to crawl to the back side of the branch, even as I slowly rotated it, always trying to stay out of sight, but not abandoning her brood.  Now that most of them are gone, the few remaining adults hopped when I approached.  They just jumped into mid air, at first seeming to just disappear.  Once I got used to their speed, I was able to follow their jumps and they just seemed to jump into mid-air and fall to the ground.  I know they can fly, so I wondered how they made these decisions - fly, hop, stay put, etc.
 The first Orange Peel Fungus I posted here is now a little over 2 inches across and still looking healthy.  I'll measure it against a penny again on Monday.
 Smaller ones are emerging from the bed of moss with a one-yard radius.  I wonder if they're all connected by the same mycelium.

 Once again I stopped by the Rabbitbrush in front of the library.  This time I got a somewhat sharper image and you can see its affinity with the sunflower family.  Click on the photo for a closer view.
 Living close to plants that have many insect visitors, I'd say this Blue-belly lizard has a more reliable food supply than most.  He looks pretty plump.
 In the same area, the large Filaree, a specimen that has borne at least 100 flowers, now has nearly all of its seeds dry enough that they start curling up immediately and rapidly when removed from the plant.  Here are a couple that had been in my son's hand only about ten seconds before I took the photo.

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