Flowering Up

I feel like I have been glued to this computer for weeks now. I don’t know how the students earning a digital media degree do it; homework for one class can take hours, especially if a problem arises. Our instructor said he wanted at least 12 hours of work each week, so you can imagine what full time students deal with.

I took a break the other day to survey Spring’s progress (it comes early here). Lo and bethold, there are flowers despite the little rain!

currant, flower, spring, photography, pink

Hort. variety of Red-flowering currant

flowers, toothwort, spring, pink

Coast toothwort

Ferns on a tree

Claytonia sibirica, flower, stripes, pink, spring

Candy flower

Evergreen huckleberry

Evergreen huckleberry

Waves crashing at sunset

Waves crashing at sunset

Photographing Liquid Sunshine

Strolling around the yard this morning, plastic bag strapped to the camera to shield it from the drizzle, yielded the photos below. I’ve been attempting the photography rule of shooting lighter, edging the histogram to the right without clipping it off. When done, this supposedly creates better results since you’ve allowed more data to get to the camera’s sensor. Of course, this only applies if you are shooting in the RAW file format [think of it as a digital negative].  It also helps to drag your tripod around in the rain – hard to get good results when handheld with low light. Hence, I had to make two attempts – would have been easier to just use the tripod!

November Flowers

Interesting little scene we happened upon in a creek that spills out into the Pacific. Someone had made a little fairyland out of the invasive flowers and washed-up bull kelp.

Queen Anne’s Lace gone to seed along side a Sitka spruce cone with a bull kelp aqueduct.

Some tiny [tiny!] flowers I managed to not get a great shot of. I’m not sure if they are currently flowering, or just dried from the salt spray.

Unknown micro flowers

Mimulus guttatus, sometimes referred to as the common or seep monkey flower, craves consistent water it would seem. Apparently this species can be found in many different sizes, and extensive genetic studies have been done on it. It can grow upright, or like this one, dangle upside down off the side of cliffs and rock faces. It needs only 13 cm of soil. Recently, it has been found to grow in old copper mines, tolerating what would normally be considered a toxic level of metal for anything else. Crazy little flowers!

Mimulus guttatus

According to Calflora, flowering occurs from April to July…since this little guy is a beach hermit, it probably never saw that memo. November is as good as any to bloom around here.

 

 

 

Flower Flurries

Nothing marks Spring’s arrival like flowers do!

Here in this part of California, even though we are not warm, we see a long growing season, like that of the Deep[er] South. Flowering starts in February and doesn’t often end until November or some such month, but it is possible to find flowers all year long, especially since we have a huge selection of non-natives that love this area. Out of the native group, the trilliums, currants, and Cardamines [toothworts] are the first to pop up.

Below are some of the current bloomers around the redwood area: [Click to enlarge]

The Springing of Spring

Spring has arrived here on the North Coast of California. Yesterday’s weather was lovely; today’s will start at least a week long deluge of much needed rain.

While walking the dog, of course, I armed myself with the nifty fifty lens and a 12mm extension tube.

I noticed a small green bug on a short daisy [Bellis perennis, I assume, a nonnative known as ‘Lawn daisy’] and walked over to it. The clever thing scuttled to the backside of the flower, then dropping off into the shelter of grass and leaves when I pursued further.

These little green bugs are often called green ladybugs, but are the Spotted Cucumber Beetle [Diabrotica undecimpunctata], a vegetarian beetle who falls in the family of Skeletonizing Leaf Beetles. If you can guess by the name, these bugs aren’t the favorite of those who grow certain types of crops due to the tendency to chew holes.

I found another down the road and caught him in a photograph:

Although I didn’t get the focus just right [I have an eye appointment coming up!], this one made me chuckle. It looks like there are three-fingered hands on each side holding onto the soon-to-be flowers, reluctant to let go just yet.

Of course, the Flowering Currant [Ribes sanguineum] has been in bloom for a couple weeks at least.

Candy Flower [Claytonia sibirica] arrived just recently.

The leaves of this plant look very delicate and somehow manage to stand out in the forest. They manage to grow not only on the forest floor, but also on trees, usually in a bank of moss.

In the dog park, there were no dogs, but it was evident that a hawk had a meal.

I did some work in the garden almost two weeks ago. I was pulling out what I assumed was a ‘weed’ in my wildflower bed. Today I noticed that the flowers had opened on the weeds, so I crouched down and shot them. Turns out, they are a Speedwell, or Birdeye, but not any of the native types. Just good ol’ nonnative Veronica persica.

So Spring is awaking the masses, both native and nonnative masses alike. While putting this together, I was listening to a ScienceFriday podcast discussing the phenological signs of Spring’s early arrival in most of the country. Something to ponder…

 

Subtle Changes in the Seasons

When we moved here to north of Northern California, also known as the North Coast, we were told that there aren’t seasons here, just rain during the winter and fog during the summer. The temperature only fluctuates by about 20 or 30 degrees, so that seasonal indicator isn’t of much help, either.

While there aren’t traditional seasons right here on the coast, you can go 20 or 30 miles inland and find them, complete with snow or scorching temperatures! But, if you keep your eyes peeled and pay attention to nature, you’ll notice that the seasons are in fact here, even if the temperature is the same every day.

For example, the flowers here on the North Coast go through a seasonal succession. They progress, just like other places with more ‘typical’ weather, from the Spring beauties to the final blooms of Fall.

Animals, too, follow the  subtle seasonal rhythms.  The Roosevelt Elk are starting to bugle and compete with each other, marking the start of the rut that most elk herd ritualistically participate in during the month of September.

Birds have come and gone, and others have arrived. Varied and Swainsons thrushes have migrated elsewhere, leaving the Redwood forests nearly silent, but others, like the Band-tailed Pigeon have come crashing into the cascara and alder thickets.  Swallows, both Cliff and Barn,  as well as Marbled Murrelets, hit their peak mid-summer while raising their young, and most have now completed the task and are enjoying their time “off”.

During the Spring, it was hard to find a spider anywhere, but now, especially early in the morning, you find them everywhere.  You know you are the first one to walk a trail when you walk through webs every 4 feet!

So even though we don’t get feet of snow and hot weather, Nature is still marching on and changing to the “invisible” seasons that are controlled by the Earth’s tilt and rotation around the Sun.  The breezes carry only the smell of the Pacific Ocean and its kelp, but Autumn and its sunshine are seeping in through the fog!

The Butterfly Family in My Backyard

Still working on the Berlin post! So much ground to cover…it’s difficult picking out the highlights! I could certainly write a short novel on our trip!

I had spotted the butterflies on the lantana and laying eggs on the maypop. Once the caterpillar grew, it was hard to miss it! I finally found the eggs and later what might be the first instar! Below are the family portraits.

Gulf Fritillary Savoring a Lantana

An Insatiable Caterpillar

 

 Visible at the top right of the photo, an empty egg [dull yellow], just below, a red egg [they are usually bright yellow], and at the fork in the vine near center of the photo, a tiny, probably first instar caterpillar!