Thursday, October 30, 2014

Today's walk report: 103014, last weekend

Almost all these "reports" are titled with a date. That date used to be the walk that day and these happened almost everyday. Of late that's simply too hard to do and, for the most part, I think it compromised the blog. Besides, I have somebody else in my life now and my time with her supersedes all other. The last 9 months of my life have been happier and much more full-filling than any other epoch in my life. So there's that. Anyway, since most picture taking is on walks during weekends I'm trying to at least post the "last weekend" before the next one occurs. Here's what was captured last weekend, 102514 and 102614. Friday, 102414 was a picture day too but nothing made the grade. While I constantly struggle in the photo editing department, lately I've been considerably more picky about things.

Saturday, 102514...

Upon entering the garden, Docken and I heard the oddest sounding "cries" from this crow. It was a cooing sound almost like a mourning dove but more guttural.

Apparently it was waiting for this character, who entered with little concern but seemed very proud of its polystyrene souffle cup find.

At least it kept him quiet. I'm only making him a male because of his arrogance by the way. I don't really know.

I ambled away from this. There wasn't very much enthusiasm on my part and Docken and I both questioned whether we may have been fighting some sort of "bug." I only went far enough into the garden so I could sit down in the shade and catch my bearings. I got up for what sounded like a very noisy, very slow moving airplane, only to discover it was an ultralight. I have not seen one of these since the late 70s or perhaps the early 80s. Maybe because, according to Wikipedia, "restrictions include flying only during daylight hours and over unpopulated areas." Oops, this was not one of those areas.

Everything else was too blah to display.

Sunday, 102614...

Mexican bush sage. I don't believe I've every seen it white/pink before, it's usually purple.

A bee on some sage.
A grasshopper on Salvia uliginosa.
A katydid on Lantana.
The sight that made the day. Docken and I marveled at two pairs of red-tailed hawks "dancing" in tandem. Beautiful to watch but a p.i.t.a. to photograph. Nevertheless, you get the idea. These shots were both pair #1, pair #2 was a little too distant for a decent photo.

And this is what the day looked like, not too shabby. Are we finally moving into something we can really call fall? Is the expectation of rain this Saturday a false hope? Stay tuned...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Today's walk report: 101514, last weekend

Busy with other "stuff," last weekend's walks and picture taking took a back seat but here's what I've got...

Saturday, 101114.

Blue-eyed Darner (Aeshna multicolor, syn. Rhionaeschna multicolor).
A wild rose.
Vanessa cardui aka, Painted Lady, or the Cosmopolitan.
Vanessa cardui on lantana.

Another Blue-eyed Darner.

Sunday, 101214.

A small tribute to the southwestern fence lizard. Things are finally cooling down in SoCal and that'll mean goodbye to the lizards for awhile.

Some species of Banksia, plant family Proteaceae.

Common Buckeye butterfly, Junonia coenia. With its wings closed at 1.5 meters amongst the wood chips and dirt the butterfly seemed to disappear every time I pulled the camera away. This butterfly REALLY blends in well.

The red-eared slider turtles, like the lizards, will disappear soon too. Red-eared sliders brumate over the winter at the bottom of ponds or shallow lakes; they become inactive, generally, in October, when temperatures fall below 10 °C (50 °F).

So ends our tail, er, tale this week... Stay tuned for more and thanks for coming along on our walk.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Today's walk report: 100514

Early A.M. walk, just pictures...

Corvus brachyrhynchos
Selasphorus rufus
Corvus brachyrhynchos and
Accipiter cooperii
Bauhinia tree
Canna Lily, Tropicanna

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Today's walk report: 092814, this weekend.

Saturday 092714 and Sunday 092814.

Wow! It actually felt like fall, as far as fall goes in SoCal. Saturday's high was 77º and today we crept under that with a high of 76.7º. But wait! Here's what's predicted for next weekend...

So that sucks.

Onto Saturday...

"Look behind you..."

The weather.
 This monarch greeted me upon entering the garden. There were two, both of them were frequently fluttering so close I thought they'd land on me.

I followed above and north to one of the four very sad sequoia trees.

I made a quick loop around, just to check things out.

Chocolate daisy, Berlandiera lyrata.
Sago palm.
I also spotted my new green lynx spider friend. WARNING... I will probably follow this insect through the cycle I'm expecting here. Web, some fattening up on other insects, a nest and babies hatching. This will take awhile, perhaps well into December.

I'm almost full circle and about to deliver a kiss to my girl, Docken but I couldn't pass this up.

Sciurus niger, aka, fox squirrel, munching palo verde tree seedpods.
Close-up crop.
The kiss is done... but never forgotten.

Back to butterflies. This is the best looking skipper butterfly I think I've ever seen.

Checkered skipper butterfly, Pyrgus communis.
 Last, another round with Danaus plexippus, a male monarch.


Tiny yellow flowers and big yellow water lilies but the butterflies were once again the stars of the day.

The checkered skipper returns again...


 I was surprised to get 80 shots off of this Gulf Fritillary, Agraulis vanillae, with a close up lens. The front of my 70-300 mm lens is only a few inches away yet the butterfly was unperturbed.

 The pièce de résistance, the mating ritual of Leptotes marina, aka, the blue marine butterfly. These shots were over the course of 1:15 seconds. I got about 50 shots off using a Canon EF70-300 mm f/4-5.6 IS USM at 180 mm and a Canon 500D close up lens. It was a stunning spectacle.

The female makes her presence known, flashing her wings.

The approach. The male is on your left.

The flurry... (sorry about the lack of focus, this was a little tough with the limited dof of the lens combo.

After the interlude she's left alone...

"Are you looking at me?"

About 10 minutes later, I believe this is the same female and I believe she's laying eggs.

On the way home, this little fellow caught my eye. This is a gray hairstreak butterfly, Strymon melinus. Like most butterflies in the family Lycaenidae, the gray hairstreak has a false head on the hind wings to distract predators and protect the head/body from fatal attack. For me, it attracted my attention.

So long and thanks for joining the walk!