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!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Today's walk report: 092614, weeks fly by

This is my 3rd attempt to get this posted. It seems every week has been flying by and posting here has taken a back seat to other more significant pursuits but here we go...

With summer-like weather starting up in spring it's been a long hot one and we probably won't see a lot of relief for another few weeks, moving into mid-October. With the severe drought situation and what seems to be unusually long hot days in this SoCal valley, thriving plant life has taken a major hit and daylight walks have been less frequent.

A short excursion on 091414...

Bees loving the open cactus flowers.

Some ants too...

Pilosocereus leucocephalus.
Selasphorus rufus, Rufous hummingbirds continue to be the main attraction for me. They seem to be more excepting of my presence of late.

Selasphorus rufus enjoying Salvia darcyi.
 Moving on to last weekend (091914-092114)...

Ground squirrel in a Baja fairy duster bush.
Selasphorus rufus.

A feather-like frond.
4th generation of the 2014 monarch life cycle. Prepping for migration?
A grass skipper butterfly on brightly colored lantana.
My 1st siting of a green lynx spider for the fall saeson. Last year I followed the life cycle of two of these spiders quite closely. In fact, I'm planning to do a "special report" on this fine spider sometime soon.

Female green lynx on Alyogyne huegelii.

Euphorbia horrida.
I believe this is the same Selasphorus rufus over two days. They are very territorial however territories seem tightly knit and sometimes it's hard to tell who is invading whom.

I'm standing inside 4-6' tall Salvia darcyi, aka, red mountain sage for this shot.
Taking off.
From the desert willow...
to the grape arbor...
looking up...
at the end of a long day.
Fyi: Selasphorus rufus hummingbirds eat 1/2 to 3 times their body weight a day. The average weight of the bird is 3.37 grams. For reference, a nickel ($.05) weighs 5 grams.

That's all but there's more coming! It might take a couple weeks to get posts up here but I'm always taking pictures... and walking with my girl, Doc.