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!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Today's walk report: 081814; Last weekend

Distracting myself from the pervasive moment, here's some stuff from the weekend of August 15-17.

The weather continues to aggravate with mid-upper 90ยบ temps. It needs to go away.

Friday, 081514...

An A.M. walk, not that it helped much, quickly moving into the heat of the day. Docken and I stopped to look at a morning 1/2 moon and circling white doves.

Hoverfly on a salvia twig.
Gulf fritillary or passion butterfly (Agraulis vanillae)
A honey bee tussles in the stamen of a cactus flower.

Exploring the depths.
Cruising about.
Exit stage right.
One more time?
Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus), the conversation was with me. I hope I didn't say the wrong thing...

but perhaps I did...

Kalnachoe daigremontina.

Saturday... I don't remember what happened to Saturday.

Sunday, 081714...

Cooper's Hawk, Accipiter cooperii, in an olive tree.
Asclepias fascicularis.
Agraulis vanillae.
Another Selasphorus rufus, seemingly entertained by my presence.
Onto another distraction.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Today's walk report: 081114; Last weekend

Once again a tad tardy on a weekend report. Oh well.

It's been hot and trying to push walks out to early evening means less light and fewer pictures. I'm really looking forward to fall.

080814, Friday...

We were late to the garden and the lighting was pretty dismal. I commented once out load about neglecting to bring a flash and grumbled to myself a few more times.

Bee on narrow-leaved milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis.
This young Selasphorus rufus was the only hummingbird photo op I saw. A lot of the taller sages are starting to fall to the summer heat, making it more difficult to capture hummingbirds as they dart about inside.

This isn't a very good picture but it was the 1st time I've seen a crayfish (aka, crawfish, crawdads, freshwater lobsters, or mudbugs) in the water. I knew they were there but since they are usually much deeper than this I've only seen them before in the mouth of an egret. I used the on board flash for this shot and also needed to crank the shadows way up in Photoshop.

Crayfish amongst mosquito fish.
At this point I decided to simply sit and wait for my girl to finish her photos. On the bench I noticed this ant rather frantically trying to navigate this object which looked especially sizable. I screwed on my Canon 500D close up lens to my zoom at 300mm for a closer look. 'Turns out to be a bee's wing.

080914, Saturday...

Young Selasphorus rufus in a Sequoia tree.
Selasphorus rufus in Silver Sage.
Female Selasphorus rufus. no plant ID.
Selasphorus rufus in red-stemmed dogwood.
Kevin says, "hey!"

There's a "supermoon" coming tomorrow. This looked pretty super to us already.

081014, Sunday, yesterday...

We didn't walk much, in fact we pretty much drove all but a mere 1 km or 0.62 miles.  It was hot and getting late but we wanted to take pictures. It was nice to get out.

I was SURROUNDED by Selasphorus rufus for several minutes. For the most part it was too exciting watching to be fighting to track zooming, swooping and darting hummingbirds.

Selasphorus rufus.
 Something I said?

Selasphorus rufus inside summer's collapsing Salvia darcyi.
Selasphorus rufus preening.
Ready for the party.