Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Today's walk report: 010515, the holidays

I'm just shy of a month since my last post, I think that might be a record gap but hey, there was end of year stuff, then New Year's celebration and to be honest photo ops along the usual trek weren't so super. Despite the 30 some odd photos I'm about to post you will see there's a lot of "same subject" shots. To top things off it got cold here in SoCal end of 2014 and into the 1st few days of the year. Nothing earth shattering especially when compared to the rest of the county and probably most of the northern hemisphere but we're trying to grow wildflowers now and frost advisories aren't welcomed. The worst of it was New Year's eve into New Year's morning with over 7 hours of freezing temperatures and an observed low of 26.7º. 28º seems to be a feared number where the cold begins to cause extensive cellular damage to plants over several hours. We had about 3 hours of that. I don't know the full extent of the damage yet and hope that there was "safety in numbers." See, there were some 4,000,000 seeds that started this process. Throw some seeds on the ground, plant a garden and watch how interested you become in your weather.

Walks below include a stroll though my sister's garden the weekend before Christmas on invitation for a wonderful smörgåsbord lunch.


A yellow rumped warbler enjoys an apple. How did it get 12' up into a palo verde tree? At 1st I suspected a squirrel but on reflection, that would have been some feat. Considering this is on a college campus let's assume some jerk student threw it up there. The critters will take care of it though.

This is a young male Anna's hummingbird (Calypte anna), apparently the 1st of the season. Last year I didn't have a photo record of these birds until early February so a modest shift there.

End of the day we took the car to a hilltop and watched the sunset.

Another walk to Corbin Canyon. This was a physical struggle from 1/4 mile in. I think this was mainly due to two simple mistakes--not eating or hydrating properly before the walk. The total trek was only about 5.5 miles but it was mentally challenging to keep going. There was a really bright and magical moment though. We altered our path and walked in front of an elementary school. We hear but do not see dozens of children singing It's a Wonderful World. So we stopped and listened. I don't mean to sound pretentious but it really felt like they were singing for us. Love is magical.

Once again our young Calypte anna is hanging out in his newly established territory. This time on the Calliandra californica, aka, Baja fairy duster.

122114... The visit to my sister's and her lovely garden.

Pentas lanceolata (I think).
Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl.'
Another pentas.
Is it beginning to feel a lot like Christmas? Not with a high of 81º.

Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice).
Agave spires.
The famous ducks, enjoying their winter residence.

Double quack!!
A lot more tiny flowers on this than there were here but I didn't feel like crawling on the ground for pictures this time.

African daisy.
122514, Christmas day... 
A late afternoon walk and wonderful indeed. There wasn't much picture taking but I did catch this. This is three snow geese in a plumb of Canada geese. According to Wikipedia a group of geese on the ground is a gaggle; when in flight, they are called a skein, a team or a wedge; when flying close together, they are called a plump. After a mere 20 minutes research I determined that snow geese joining Canada geese is not a common event. The oddest coincidence I find in this is that on Christmas day last year I witnessed the same occurrence however with only one snow goose in the skein.

Some really dark purple iris already in bloom.
A curious scrub jay was watching me take pictures of a hummingbird.
And here's the hummingbird. This is a young female Calypte anna, I wonder if she's met the guy above?

A wink and a chirp.
The same bird on Salvia leucantha, aka, Mexican bush sage.
010115, Happy New Year!
This was my 1st close-up opportunity with this bird although I have had a few other sightings. This is a male Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus. In the west the variety is also called a Red-shafted Flicker in eastern and northern parts of the country they take a different form and are known as the Yellow-shafted Flicker. It's a handsome woodpecker, I hope to see more. The berries it's eating are from some type of palm tree.

Still quacking.
This was interesting even if to only marvel at my confusion. I often see groups of circa WWII planes flying in formation. When I saw these pelicans they were accompanied by a couple of small aircraft off to the northwest. I heard the noise and saw these birds way off in the distance flying northeast. I thought I had put two and two together. It wasn't until I looked through the lens at 300mm that I realized these were birds, not planes. I've never seen pelicans in or around this valley before.

Our young male Calypte anna in his usual location. He's losing some more of his baby feathers and it was good to see him again before he fully transformed into adulthood so I could note the changes. It's fun to follow a bird throughout the season but there will be more annas and it will getting harder to distinguish one from another.

Meanwhile our friendly female mallard looks for another photo op.

That's all... Thanks for coming along and happy New Year whoever you are. Please feel free to leave comments and I'm especially not adverse to corrections on flora and fauna.