Sunday, September 7, 2014

Today's walk report: 090715, catching up to the last 2 weekends.

Last weekend and this weekend, some of this is the same as the last report with the usual suspects in different situations. It's still very definitely summer in these parts. We had an average daily high of 95.2ยบ over the last 9 days.


This was a very cooperative Leptotes marina (blue marine) butterfly. This is highly unusual for them. Not only did I manage to get 83 shots off, I did so while also managing to add a Canon 500D close-up to a 70-300mm, then swap that out for a 60mm macro. To top things off, I was "permitted" to sit down in front of my subject during some of the 60mm shots. This shot (#8) was at 150mm with the 500D.

That little tyke was most of my picture taking a week ago, Saturday. Here's one more, shot with the 60mm macro.


Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)

Some opuntia flower.

Succulent flowers, no ID.

Crazy squirrel, high up in some squirrelly cactus.

Future palo verde tree.
This mourning dove was entertained by my camera beeping while it was drinking at the fountain.
The leaf of the Canna Lily 'Tropicanna.'
BAM! It's September...

090114, Labor day...

This is the only photo I got. I won't explain why.  This is a monarch butterfly, chrysalis. The gold beads are really THAT gold looking. I found 3 of these while I was looking for some seed from the this narrowleaf milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis. The other two chrysalides are hanging on a twig about 18" higher in a desert willow tree, Chilopsis linearis. I falsely assumed this cycle was over. I read up. If you don't know about the yearly cycle of this amazing creature you can read about it here. More to follow.

Moving onto this weekend...


This is a  common green darner, Anax junius, it's a male. This is the 1st time I've seen one of these at this particular pond.

Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) on a bridge to the water lily.
Mud dauber wasp and an approaching ant.
Another check on the monarch chrysalides reveals the formation of a wing.


Butterflies are free.

1st a check on the  monarch chrysalides. This was not this defined in person. The chrysalis was in shadows. I did not guess we were as close as we were to seeing a butterfly until I came back from a loop around the garden.

And in looping around the garden I stopped to take these pics...

Apache plume, Fallugia paradoxa,the flower.
Apache plume, Fallugia paradoxa, the flower and the plume.
Battle scarred blue dasher, Pachydiplax longipennis. I was amazed at how well it flew despite its apparent hardships.

Tiny water plants growing in the fountain.
Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae).
Palo verde flowers.
A really "hairy" cactus with purple fruit which some animal either hates of likes a lot (I can't tell).

 Finally, 50 minutes after the last photo was taken of the monarch chrysalis I discovered this and called Docken over to watch together. I was at some disadvantage trying to position myself without disturbing the newly emerging butterfly and did what I could. The time difference between the 1st image here and the last was 42 minutes.

And watching from down below...

Thanks for coming along! Comments are usually welcome!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Today's walk report: 082914: 5 day photo extravaganza

Finishing up August in SoCal and I'm starting to get excited for fall. Face it. Unless one lives near beaches and certainly NOT in the Valleys of southern California, summer pretty much sucks. We live in one of those valleys. I know a lot of people say they "love" summer here but then they just complain about the heat. I think, for the most part, it's people hanging onto how they thought they perceived summer as children--free from the bonds of school for... well, as the song goes... forever. I like fall once it gets rolling and I love winter and spring. Screw summer.

Here are photos from August 23rd to August 27th, all A.M. walks in an effort to beat the heat.


Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) on Salvia uliginosa and lantana.

I have taken many pictures of the diminutive (wingspan 2.2 to 2.9 cm) Leptotes marina (Blue marine) butterfly in the past but this was the 1st occasion where I've had an opportunity to shoot them with wings open. These little butterflies are generally a real pain to get staying still let alone still long enough to take the time to flash their colors. Over the last 5 days I kept returning to this Baja fairy duster shrub for more photos. The trick is to pick one butterfly and stick with it until it lands or another crosses inside one's "zone" for a good photo and then track that one. Eventually one will land.


Out front, on the "hell strip," were some weeds I missed weeding out earlier in the week. This is one of the ugliest, nastiest weeds around. It has a sticky sap, nettles, is almost impossible to simply pull out, it grows up to several feet tall and it's everywhere. It does however have a surprisingly cute little flower.

Back to the usual suspects... there will be more of these in the days to come. I was enjoying myself and testing my threshold for patience.

Gulf fritillary inside blue nolina (Nolina nelsonii)
Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) on Salvia uliginosa.
Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) on Baja fairy duster (Calliandra californica).
Agraulis vanillae on Salvia uliginosa.
Leptotes marina on Calliandra californica.
Cactus fruit.
This immature rufous hummingbird came over and sat about 18" away from where I was standing, elbow high, looking as if it wanted to see what I was fussing over. I had to take two big steps backwards to get a picture with a minimum focus distance of 1.5 meters.

Some of the fuss was over this young male rufous rustling its feathers above me in the Baja fairy duster shrub.

The other side...


More Leptotes marina on Calliandra californica. The opportunity presented itself and it's challenging.

Meanwhile this Western scrub jay was squawking for the limelight.


Never mind... tomorrow's another day.


As a child, in this very location, I remember Western tiger swallowtail (Papilio rutulus) butterflies to be a regular sight. I hardly ever see them now. Perhaps they suffer some of the same plight as the Monarch, which is now considered an endangered species. On the Monarch side please consider planting milkweed, if you're in Monarch territory. You can find some good information here, you can get seed appropriate to your region in the usual places.

This particular butterfly was a little on the tattered side but I tried to take some shots where damage was obscured by the creature's incredible beauty.

My 1st photo op with Papilio rutulus just a few blocks from home.
Again, some of the regular attractions in the garden.
Meadowhawk dragonfly, (Sympetrum obtrusum)
Leptotes marina on Calliandra californica.
That's all! Thanks for joining us on the walks!