Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Running out of month...

 I received a compliment for my last post, and in response, I promised to get back to more regular postings.  Then I was shocked to see that I had ZERO posts in the month of November. So, here are a few end-of-month observations.  The beautiful Lepidopteran above was on the window of the entrance to the school cafeteria the day before Thanksgiving break.  Hungry as I was, I had to stop and pull out my phone/camera to capture the memory.  This is the same species that I often find wintering in my stacks of firewood.  No matter how cold it gets outside, they seem to survive.  They wake up when I bring the logs into the house.  Fun watching the cats chase them.  I hope they aren't the type that eats clothing.  The remaining photos are my fungal observations on campus during the past few days.  I'm at Midtown Coffee where the Internet speed is very good.  A good environment for quickly loading these photos.  Not a good environment for concentrating on all the political ruminations these fungi stimulate.  They will come later today from a place where Internet speed is not an issue.  The photos are here.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Sunrise over Reno

This sunrise in the direction of Reno reminded me of Frost's poem, Fire and Ice.  We're supposed to get the ice this coming weekend.  It's about time.  I think ice would suffice.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Roadside Meal

 The side of the road where the Shaggy Mane emerges every Fall was looking pretty dry all through October and I was wondering if they'd appear this year.  I drive by this spot every morning.  Then one morning - Voila! there they were.  To the mycologist they're Coprinus comatus.  To most everyone else they're either a culinary delight or something frightening.  To me, a photo op and a curiosity.  Anything that digests itself is fascinating.

Here they are, dripping their spores for next year's crop.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Saved by a rodent

 I've had trouble lately getting sufficiently inspired by my observations of nature to post upbeat descriptions of what I see.  In fact, I was on the brink of writing something about the President and his team of destroyers.  My friend in southern California who writes a blog called "The Way I See It," almost always describes what he finds to be beautiful - wildflowers, cultivated flowers, tree bark, the ocean, etc., - but during the past few months he has felt compelled to share how distraught he is over our current political situation.  We share the perception that the president is a dangerous buffoon and is in the process of destroying much of what we consider beautiful, not to mention necessary for our continued survival as a species.  But, what saved me from writing about this sort of thing was a dead chipmunk on my front lawn.  At first glance, I saw the red underside of the tail and the white belly and thought it was a Douglas Squirrel (AKA Chickaree), but when I tipped it over, I saw the stripes on the face which made it a chipmunk.  It's been a number of years since my taxonomic interest was focused on distinguishing among our many species of chipmunks, but I still enjoy a close-up view of most any wild mammal.  This one had cheeks full - probably acorns - and was rather wet and dark looking, so I couldn't match it with any of the chipmunk pictures in my field guides.  I'm just glad it was there to take my mind off Trump.

Just  a few yards away from this unfortunate chipmunk is a fresh pile of dirt pushed up by a gopher.  I'm hoping to trick it into showing itself some sunny afternoon - like maybe tomorrow. After I get a photo or two, I'll wish it well, then maybe get a video clip of it covering its hole.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Earth Tones Near Home, Part II

I hate the Internet service here!!!  I just loaded 5 photos and only one showed up.  Ugh.  Will try again later.  Did not get a chance this morning when I was in the presence of high speed Internet service.  I'm home again where I usually enjoy myself without the Internet, but I do want to blog.
The above leafy branches are of Cascara Buckthorn or Cascara Segrada, Rhamnus purshiana.
 Days later, maybe the neighborhood is still asleep, but the Internet speed was sufficient to add these four photos to my last post.  The color along our shared driveway has probably peaked.  The oaks, especially, are bright orange, and the Thimbleberry is about the same yellowish green.  The buckthorn (above) which to me has one of the handsomest leaves, is now losing its leaves rapidly.
 This early morning scene with the low sun sending beams slashing through openings in the tall firs and pines reminds me of our das in Leggett where bands of sunlight between the tall redwoods were a daily sight.
 Not many berries this year, but the Thimbleberry is still and attractive sight.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Earth Tones Near Home, Part i

 I took ten photos within 50 feet of where I park at home, and I love all of them.  However, the upload speed I'm paying for here is pathetic, so I'm splitting the collection in two.  Will post the other five tomorrow morning at the coffee shop.  Three cheers for Midtown Coffee.  I'll be able to load the remaining five in less than a minute.  The California Black Oaks along my driveway are intriguing in their varied speeds of turning color.  A few are still green.  The one above is the most colorful at this time.  A few others have lost most of their leaves and the remaining ones are brown.  Quite a contrast from some of the ones on Cemetery Hill that are bright reds and oranges.  Then there are the two in front of the former Papa's Donuts that might actually be cultivars.  They're incredibly bright and multi-colored.
 Over the years I've enjoyed Norma Lewis's pastels of the ends of stacked firewood, or entire logs at the mill.  I decided to see what I could do with the camera.  I haven't uncovered as many bugs this year while splitting and stacking our firewood.  So, the wood itself becomes a good subject.

 The background of pines and Douglas-fir and White Fir makes the oaks stand out all the more.
In tomorrow's set I'll have some Cascara Segrada and Thimbleberry. Time permitting, I'll also check out the nature trail loop at the college.  There's still some flowing water there and that should provide some aesthetic variety.  I like Fall.  Now we need some rain.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Better late than never.

Forgot to include in my last post this "panorama" closeup of the fading Autumn Crocus surrounded by colorful leaves from the nearby trees and a sprinkling of pine needles.  Scroll back a few posts to see the crocuses at the peak of their blooming a couple of weeks ago.  I'm not seeing much in the way of fungal caps so far this fall.  I've searched in vain for my favorite on campus, the Orange Peel Fungus.  I think I'm seeing lots fewer birds, too.  Creepy feeling to have a sense of loss of diversity at the same time the news is loaded with scary and depressing wildfire experiences.  The college had to cancel football practice a few times due to smoke coming in from 100 or more miles away.

Fall Colors

As I drove down Jackson Street toward the hospital in Quincy, the many different species of red leaves along the roadside caught my eye and I regretted no bringing my camera along.  I've tried to pay so much attention to always bringing my new phone along, that I've been neglecting the camera.  So, I had to go back.  For the past several years I have taken many photos of fall colors.  Many were the conventional scenics featuring the black oaks, cottonwoods, and native maples around Quincy.  But this year I've drawn a blank so far in October.  I parked my truck on the roadside opposite the aforementioned red leaves.  When I got out of the truck, I was struck by the huge patch of Mountain Snowberry.  Fall colors?  Actually, it is interesting to compare the color terminology of the physical sciences to that of artists.  WE get into wavelengths, hues, pigments vs. reflected and transmitted light, etc., etc.  All I know for sure is that if anyone asked "what color are those berries?" I'd answer "white."  If I shot a panoramic view of this berry patch, you'd only see tiny white dots, so I've reverted to my favorite format - close-ups. 
Then, across the street I zoomed in on a patch of non-native maples.  These were low to the ground, having recovered from an August meeting with the county's weed eaters.
Half way through October, I am vowing to bring the camera with me every day.  I'll continue to look for the unconventional.  The other is readily available on post cards and online. I'm loving the cold weather. It's so dry that we're still at high risk for wildfires, but I'm enjoying the lack of frost on my truck windows in the morning.  On second thought, the frost can be quite photogenic.  I don't dare predict what the weather will be like through the end of October.  There's still plenty of fresh bear poop on the streets in my neighborhood every morning.  Can't put the trash out until daylight.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Where did they go?

 I've let a couple weeks slip by without blogging.  I've been very busy with teaching at FRC, but I've also found the month of September not yielding as many attractive subjects, at least of the sort I am accustomed to posting.  Climate change?  Recent fires?  I don't know.  So, today, by way of reminiscing, here are some from my archive.  A couple of these are six years old.  I've photographed the Oak Treehoppers, Platycotis vittata, every year since I first discovered them at a friend's place out on LaPorte Road.  Since then, I've mostly found them on the California Black Oaks lining my driveway and one big oak at the edge of the paved pathway leading to the upper campus buildings at the college.  So far this year, I've only seen a couple of them - none today - and have not got any new photos to compare with these old ones. 
In the above photos, the individual hanging upside-down at the far left is an adult, one of two color patterns the adults around here exhibit.  The one to its immediate right is a juvenile, probably the fifth instar.  Note the stripes are perpendicular to the lengthwise body.  The slightly larger ones with lengthwise red and white stripes are the other adult pattern.
 The second photo is a closer view of a cluster of juveniles.  These are around 1/4" long, very hard to spot unless you know they might be there.

I'll keep looking at the oaks for a few more weeks.  I have photographed them in mid-October in prior years.  Meanwhile, this coming weekend I need to take a long overdue nature walk with my camera.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Walking with my phone

 My wife and I took a walk into the woods above our house yesterday.  It was he last walk with the dogs before going out of town for a few days.  I came along in order to learn the nuances of successfully walking the dogs without her.  Will they mind me, or will I lose them?  I'm not a "dog person."  But our dogs are pretty darn nice as dogs go.  I didn't bring my camera so I could pay better attention to my instructor.  But, I did bring my phone in case one of our kids texted their need for a ride somewhere.  I was excited to find the False Solomon's Seal I photographed in flower a couple of months ago had produced a bunch of berries and the birds had not got to them yet.  Then I found another a few yards away.  I find these colors exciting.  And these photos are better than I usualy get with the phone.  I'm still kind of an iPhone klutz.

 On the way around the big green water tank, I spotted a Blue Elderberry bush laden with fruit.
 If I weren't so busy, I'd have picked these and tried to make a jar of jam.  I hope somebody else discovered these and does the same.  Or maybe make some wine.  Don't forget to cook them and not risk kidney damage.  And, if you're at a little bit higher altitude and run across the Red Elder, don't eat them at all.  They're pretty toxic.
Another reason for not bringing along the camera is that I was quite aware that I've accumulated several posts with pictures over the last week or two without keeping up on generating text.  All these stories are rattling around in my head and getting mixed up with my lessons plans for three courses for the coming week.  But the stories are still in there somewhere.  Maybe I can backtrack and squeeze them out before they disappear into my subconscious, or I start revising them and drifting into fiction.

Resurrection in my front yard...

Text coming soon.  9/11/17

Colors and Scents of Autumn

Text coming soon.  9/11/2017

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Butterfly, Part III: New Discoveries (for me)

I've never seen this flower before my recent trip out to Butterfly Valley Botanical Area.  That's because I've only visited the place during Spring and early Summer.  One common name is Grass of Parnassus.  Interesting name to research.  Even more interesting to me was the family affiliation.  It has been a member of at least a half dozen families over the years.  Some of those names are now extinct, superseded by other names.  In some cases the plant has been switched from one family to another, both families continuing to exist according to botanists.  My most-often used field guide, the one by Jack Laws, lists it as belonging to the Saxifragaceae.  No other source I've found places it in that family.  The "ground" keeps changing under my feet.  I find this flower exceptionalyl beautiful.
The greenish veins in the white petals are special.  Quite often I find white petals difficult to photograph because of what digital photographers call noise.  But I'm satisfied with these two photos.  I hope you are, too.  Click on them for closer views.
These next two photos were also a new experience for me.  The dried up flowers of Darlingtonia, the Pitcher Plant, or Cobra Lily, or.... the list goes on.  In late summer in this dried up condition, I found them intriguing.  My lack of text when I first posted the photos had nothing to do with a "guess what this is" contest, but a few people did guess and asked me what they were.  Everyone guessed wrong, but that's OK.  After all, I've often mistaken a paper bag for a fox or bobcat while driving late at night and not fully awake. 
I'm intrigued by the annual life cycle of these flowers while at the same time the cobra-like leaves are always green, or, while some dry up and turn brown they are continually replaced by fresh green ones - sort of like evergreen trees.  Anyway, I hope to get back to filling out some of these recent posts that lacked texts, but now I have to take a break and do some lesson plans for tomorrow.