Friday, March 26, 2021

Once Upon a Walk Report - Part Five

I finished cleaning out another photo folder and decided that's a good enough reason to post selected images. It was a slow process relative to the project as a whole. I deleted almost 8,000 additional images out of 9,534. Anyway, here are some survivors...

This is a white belted ringtail dragonfly (Erpetogomphus compositus). The images from this series of photographs appear to be my only photographic experience with this brand of dragonfly. I know this in part because I had to look the little fellow up. I kept 23 images, mostly because of some rather dramatic changes in the depth of field. This particular image was shot at f16, 1/160 sec.


 Matilija poppy, or Romneya coulteri.


Female Allen's hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin). The first three images are the same bird.





Male Calypte anna hummingbird.


Eriogonum fasciculatum, AKA, California buckwheat.


 A somewhat evasive Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus).


 Flame skimmer (Libellula saturata).


The gopher known as, "Tim". Tim was a lot of fun for awhile. On more than a few occasions he would pop out of one of his holes just as we approached along the sidewalk, seemingly aware it was us. Docken contributed the almonds. Tim liked almonds.


It might be, Crassula perforata.


Male Calypte anna hummingbird. As you can see he's at that awkward age where his iridescent feathering is just starting to come in.


Flame skimmer (Libellula saturata).


Northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos). This is the first scientific name of a bird I remember learning. When I was in the 6th grade I spent a rather inordinate amount of time studying a Peterson, Field Guide to Birds of Western North America (I believe). I was mostly fascinated with the drawings. For whatever reason, the scientific name stuck with me. The genus, Mimus : mimic : imitator and polyglottos : polyglot : multilingual. 

I can't tell male or female from the photo. Typically the male is slightly larger than the female but the most telling distinctions are in their behavior. For one, the males are more prolific in their singing behavior. You know... it's a sin to kill a mockingbird. 

Here's Eric Duck once again. He's watching me. Docken Duck is lying in a similar fashion right in front of him. He's protecting her.


Female Selasphorus sasin.


The current photo folder being scoured only contains 3,300 images, which is relatively low volume. I'm not sure why that is. If it doesn't yield enough suitable images for a post I might choose to carry into the following folder which contains 9,473 images. If so, it's probably going to be awhile before I post again. I don't suppose it matters much how many images are in a post but there's also a sense of accomplishment going on here. I'd like to have this little project completed. Part of the point is to back up images I care to keep onto a drive that I'm not getting warnings about. So far I've backed up about 11,000 images. Once finished I'm estimating I'll have thrown away somewhere around 155,000 images and will have kept about 25,000. Give or take. Here's a little photography tip: if you want to take good photographs start by taking a lot of pictures.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Once Upon a Walk Report - Part Four

 Today is an anniversary of sorts. It was one year ago today, a Sunday, that I took my last walk around the local botanical garden. I miss that garden and the surrounding grounds a lot. I would go there in a heartbeat despite covid however, the garden is on a college campus and that campus has been closed to the public since March 16, 2020. I knew it was going to be closed, that's why I made a special effort to go the day before the shutdown. Today is a rainy day, one year ago today was also a rainy day. I bitched about rain or rather the lack thereof in the last post. Since that post from March 5th we have received an additional 1.25" or 3.175 cm of rain.Total seasonal rainfall is currently 5.37" or about 13.63 cm.

The continuing saga of purging photo archives... I'm up to 10/18/15. I still have about 120 photos from that day to sort through. I'm only pausing to acknowledge this anniversary because I want to take note of this day. I find it really heartbreaking that a year has gone by under the specter of this pandemic. It's tragic that something which should have taken about 8 weeks to have mitigated is still not under control over a year later. Everyday I mourn the losses. Over 534K deaths in this country alone and most of that is cracked up to a poorly managed absence of following the science and doing the right thing. A lot of it boiling down to greed and selfishness. If you're in the U.S. do you remember 15 days to slow the spread? What kind of absurdity was that? Wearing a mask became a statement about one's politics. Really? Selfishness does not equal freedom.

Okay, enough, how about some pretty pictures? Let's take a deep breath, hold it, exhale... three more... and we'll step back into 2015 when things were a lot more sane. Dates are in the captions. The format is month, day, year using double digits. Why do I keep explaining that?

 This is Kevin again, remember Kevin? He's a handsome Lithobates catesbeianus, that he is.


Not a particularly special photo but what is special is that this Cooper's hawk (Accipiter cooperii) was on my back fence and I took this photo from my office window, right next to where I'm currently typing. I mentioned missing the botanical garden and if I had to choose what I miss most about the excursions to that campus it's birds of prey. While I might see an occasional hawk or falcon at home it's nothing like the close intimacy I'd get in and around that garden.


 See what I mean? Red tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)


 Female Anna's hummingbird (Calypte anna)


Despite a recent study by researchers at Cornell University, I don't believe bees have much interest in this plant whether the flowers are male or female, it doesn't matter. The plant is wind pollinated. It doesn't have nectar. What I think the study ignored is what was planted in the study location before it was replaced with hemp. The bees were looking for the previous crop. This bee does, however, appear a little buzzed.  


This fellow too is merely stopping by for a moment's rest. 


Ever wonder what dragonflies eat? Well, sometimes they eat other dragonflies.  Common green darner  (Anax junius). No ID on the partially consumed dragonfly.


Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) on Salvia uliginosa.


Blue eyed darner (Aeshna multicolor)


Bulbine frutescens.


Female Calypte anna hummingbird on red mountain sage (Salvia darcyi)


Blue marine butterfly (Leptotes marina)


Cosmos sulphureus


Female Allen's hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin)


"It's looking kind of cloudy. Is it gonna rain?" A young male Calypte anna hummingbird contemplates the weather.


And finally just to round things off with something current, here are a few shots from the backyard taken over the last couple of days.

Two tiny Meyer lemon trees grown from seeds.


And the first bud of what I hope is many Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia rotundifolia). There are three of these plants which were started a little too early indoors, now in the ground outside and there are eight more very young seedlings inside to be planted outside in a week or two.


That's it. Please stop by and check for round five coming soon!

Friday, March 5, 2021

Once Upon a Walk Report - Part Three

 Ah ha! We meet again... 

I have now lost track of how many photos I have purged due to redundancy and other factors. I've gone through 13 or 14 folders and it looks like I have another 12 to go. I could figure it out with some accuracy but it's not worth it. Guesstimate? Somewhere close to 60,000 photos have been forever tossed into the digital netherworld. No regrets. 

Last OUaWR I indicated I had finished 2014 but that was not true, there were a few more in the next folder. The folders are sorted by the image name the camera hands out and not necessarily by date since the camera goes from IMG_0001.JPG to IMG_9999.JPG. I've always manually imported from the camera's SD card into folders on my iMac. Whenever a folder says a file by the same name already exists, that's when I start a new folder. The last folder contained about 9,800 images.

Anyway, here are the photos I selected. Not everything is from bygone walks some of this is from bygone wildflower gardens around the homestead. Again, dates are in the captions.

There's a duck in there somewhere!


  What do you know? It's the famous Eric Duck.

And close by we find the lovely and demure Docken Duck. Both human Eric and human Docken really miss these ducks.

Okay, now it's official. We're into 2015. Kalanchoe delagoensis, AKA. Chandelier-Plant.


Back at home, the ox eye daisy plants (Leucanthemum vulgare) were starting to bud. I think I might have done this before with an image of these. But look at it, how could you not see that? Leucanthemum vulgare are starting to bud with a few opening again right now but with the limited rainfall this season (4.11" to date), almost no collecting of seeds from last year and zero seed purchasing, I don't think there's going to be much of a show.


"I didn't break it. It was like that." Male Calypte anna (Anna's hummingbird).


Gilia tricolor, one of my favorite flowers to photograph. It was especially nice to see bees get covered in blue pollen. The flowers are approximately 2 cm in diameter.



Since neither of the above images show off the blue pollen, here's one from 2013. I suspect the yellow pollen you see in the above images is from nearby Dimorphotheca sinuata flowers. 

Another favorite flower for picture taking, Linum grandiflorum or scarlet flax. There's an illusion to this flower. Are the petals convex or concave? Look at this image, you can mentally flip the petals. As if it were an open umbrella. Are you looking at the umbrella from the top or from below the umbrella canopy?


 Of course, you're under the umbrella.

I haven't seen any of these in some time. They were once everywhere. Nemophila menziesii, known commonly as baby blue eyes or baby's-blue-eyes.
 Vanessa cardui butterfly on Centaurea cyanus, commonly known as cornflower or bachelor's button.

Danaus plexippus, AKA, the monarch butterfly on Salvia leucophylla.



 Honey bee on Dimorphotheca sinuata.

Cooperative insects and birds: It's always nice, especially when the lighting is good, to have congenial subjects that hang out for prolonged photo sessions. I'm not sure how many images I started with of this blue-eyed darner (Rhionaeschna multicolor) dragonfly but I ended up keeping 80 shots.

Bulbine frutescens is a species of flowering plant in the genus Bulbine, native to southern Africa. Hey! I actually donated to Wikipedia once.
I never got an ID on this cactus.
 Pieris rapae or the cabbage white butterfly. I have a special fondness for these butterflies. The sage is
Salvia mellifera or black sage, a California native.


Light, oh how the light can change everything. This small daisy, about the size of a nickel, was the only plant of it's kind in the side yard in 2015. The second image was taken one day after the first, about 1.5 hours later in the day.



The back yard has been the hot spot for poppies for the past several years. Mostly Papaver rhoeas,
Papaver nudicaule, Papaver orientale and an occasional Eschscholzia californica plant or two.




These are Calendula officinalis flowers in the process of unfolding.

Another favorite flower mentioned here before, Linaria maroccana or baby snapdragons or toadflax if you prefer using a really ugly name.


I also mentioned in a previous edition of this little project that I was going to plant some Linaria maroccana seeds indoors to be moved outdoors once A.M. temps are slightly more accommodating. Here they are. There are 10 cells like this in the seedling starter tray. The giant white chunks are actually small pieces of perlite.


 The front yard four days before the March equinox, 2015.

When I first started this urban meadow idea it was done with my mother in mind. I wanted to scatter some beauty about which would be right outside the windows for her to see. This started in 2012 with my using an electric cultivator on the property and going over front, side and backyards several times. The ground was mostly hard, mostly clay and the cultivator would often bounce around like a jackhammer on steel plates. Then there was the hand pulling and raking of deeply embedded weeds. After that there was the introduction of mulch provided by the city shoveled by me onto the sheet covered rear of my tired old Jeep Cherokee. Seeds were purchased from the local big box hardware store and were scattered mid-October of 2012 when the first rains arrived. The earliest flowers, mostly California poppies, began opening as we entered March of 2013. Eight years ago today on March the 5th, 2013 I ended up describing these first blooms to my mother, she was lying in bed unresponsive. She was shutting down and it became almost instinctively apparent to me that I needed to tell her about the beauty appearing outside of her home, about arrangements that were made by my sister so she would know she was going to be placed near our father, to tell her how much I loved her and how important she had been in my life. I knelt on the floor holding her gently as the hospice nurse was outside organizing for her visit. She passed as I was escorting the nurse into the house.