Saturday, August 28, 2021

Today's walk report: 082821

 Dusty, not Dusty?

While I'm glad and grateful I got out to visit the local botanical garden, take some pictures and get some walking in, for the most part... it was a struggle. I'll blame it on the vacuuming yesterday. When I decide to vacuum the house there is always more vacuuming to be done than my back can tolerate. Heck, there's more vacuuming to be done than is humanly possible, it should be an Olympic event. I think the killer was in the third quarter, the vacuum lift onto the ottoman to clean cat hair. Yeah, that was it. Anyway, I got out and I took a few pictures. I climbed stairs too because I'm badass.

There wasn't much hummingbird cooperation in the garden. There were two male Calypte anna hummingbirds. I'm about 92% sure this first bird is Dusty and I think I could clear up any uncertainty if I did some comparison scoping with previous photographs but I'm not up to the task. Maybe later.


This male Calypte anna is definitely not Dusty. I had a really hard time on photographic congeniality with this bird. This is the best I could do. For the most part the sunlight was directly in my face once again, so that and the fact that presumed Dusty was chasing the bejeebies out of this bird along with a single female Selasphorus rufus hummingbird, kept me from having decent moments to get a shot off.

After about 20 minutes of dicking around (intransitive, chiefly US, informal + somewhat vulgar : to spend time idly or aimlessly : to waste time : fool around, mess around) with these birds and being blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, I decided to hit the stairs. The stairs, only rivaled by the Angkor Wat's temple stairs in Cambodia. 

Right as I was thinking about a prairie falcon which flew directly in front of my face and landed next to me on yesterday's neighborhood walk (messing with the phone for a photo seemed unnecessary), a red-tailed hawk flew in front of my face. You know, pretty darn close. Closest point, I'd say about 10 yards in front of me. When a bird of prey, that large is that close you take notice. I fumbled with the camera, then I followed the bird. More stairs.

It was well camouflaged. I tried to walk around to where the light was to my advantage but I didn't get too far before the hawk took off.

Still apprehensive about students showing up on campus, it was a little after 8:00 AM, I decided to head home. As it turns out, school starts on Monday and most of the classes I looked at on their schedule were either "Internet" or "Live on-line". However signs and banners around the campus seem to indicate they expect the presence of people. I suspect any "lab classes" are going to require attendance.

For me personally? I wouldn't put a lot of faith in those notices. 

In closing... how about some more butterfly pictures from the backyard?

Giant swallowtail butterfly (Papilio cresphontes) on Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia rotundifolia). It's a non-stop parade of butterflies on these flowers.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Today's walk report: 082221

 Hot new band, Dusty and the Crows...

I showed up in the garden shortly after 7:00 AM. Overcast skies and the sun low in the east made for some pretty lousy lighting. I ended up popping my flash a couple of times on male Calypte anna hummingbird, Dusty. But first, there was the phone call. I needed to call Docken, disturb her sleep and make sure she was okay. Wake up, wake up, wake up!! Hey... are you okay? We spoke throughout the rest of the journey, even up the stairs, onto the car parked in the not too distant distance, proceeding to a gas station (only my second fill up since covid) and we wrapped it up back home. It was nice. Sorry to wake her but glad for the company. 

Again, Dusty.


From there it was mostly walking around and talking on the phone. There was this one talkative California towhee (AKA, grumpy bird, or, if you prefer, Melozone crissalis). I don't typically see towhees in trees. They're usually pecking around on the ground or in short shrubbery. They generally nest no more than a foot (30 cm) off the ground.

Next it was onto the ninja stairs challenge, around the hill and back to the car. The only encounters were with crows. Lovely but noisy crows. These are American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos).

Once off the phone and after what for me was a late breakfast, I once again spotted a Gulf fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) enjoying the Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia roundafolia) though my office windows in the backyard.


For a brief moment he (yes, this is a male) also visited a Salvia clevelandii plant whose flowers were spent months ago.

Didn't know how far we should go
But it's my key
To survive
If we won't stop this there won't be a second chance
If we don't stop now there won't be a second chance

 Again, my thanks to Docken for the wonderful company and thank you for visiting.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Today's walk report: 081521

 "No Card"

The two most dreaded words when you go to take pictures, look through the viewfinder, CLICK and no card. Actually, my current generation camera just says CArd in green LEDs and that word flashes. I don't know why the C and the A are in caps but they are. Flashing like, dumb guy, dumb guy, dumb guy... This morning I didn't get quite that far and thankfully I hadn't started walking yet. As I was getting out of the car these words surfaced to a conscious level, you didn't check for the SD card before leaving. The door to the SD card slot added insult--it was open. I sat back down and drove home. That process added about 20 minutes to the original ETA in the garden.

In the garden...

There was a time, years ago, when I was taking so many pictures of a certain or some certain hummingbirds where I told myself, I'm only posting new pictures of these hummingbirds if there's something sensational about the shot. It's getting that way with male Calypte anna hummingbird, Dusty. I'm not quite there and to be honest, he's always a joy to see. As I entered his territory a Cooper's hawk (Accipiter cooperii) came storming out of an olive tree about 30 yards in front of me. It was both impressive and disappointing. A few steps later there was Dusty, just looking right at me like he was saying, what am I, chopped liver? So, I took some pictures...

I walked over to the pond to see if any interesting insects might be flying about. That was a no go. The pond is a mess in that there is very little pond left. It was headed that direction well before Covid. The biggest problem is this plant, cattails (Typha latifolia). I have a better name but I'll skip it for now. They've taken over and for whatever reason the garden curator has let them. 


After that I paced around a bunch and decided, why not wander around a bit and perhaps trudge up at least some of the stairs, maybe I'll spot the hawk again. I pointed myself in the direction I saw the hawk exit the garden. These two were right out in the open and they were obviously well aware of my presence so I figured no A. cooperii nearby. 


I headed for the stairs. Well, you know how sometimes overweight, classless humans can make disgusting noises after running and stuff? There was one of those in my path, so I detoured.  No stairs but I did manage a steep incline of asphalt pavement. Then I hung a louie back to the car.

Back home: To make up a little for the lack of pictures and since I had stuff to do in the backyard, the camera came with...

I started several Tithonia rotundifolia plants indoors last winter. I figured I could then put them where I wanted and hopefully get enough seeds from them to gear up for something more extensive come spring of 2022. I'll probably start them indoors again but around May, that way I can clear the way from wildflower remnants (and weeds) from earlier in the spring. 

Starting with a couple pictures from today. Gulf fritillary (Agraulis vanillae), one of my favorite butterflies in that they look so very different between wings open and wings closed.

These were taken four days ago.

Thanks for stopping by. Thought for the day: Freedoms provided by the Constitution of the United States (or where ever) don't exempt you from the social consequences of being an asshole. 

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Today's walk report: 081421

 Smoky sunrise. 

Yesterday morning's neighborhood walk had me out the door about 20 minutes before sunrise. Morning light was slowly fading in and all of the cars out on the streets still had their headlights on. By the time the sun was rising I had a line of houses and trees obscuring much of the sunrise but about a mile in I realized, it's pretty smoky out here. I was going for a longer walk but once the words, not healthy went through my head I decided to cut it short. I ended up walking about 2.2 miles. Today the plan was to drive part way to the local botanical garden and hoof it the rest of the way. Since I was waiting for more light and driving part way departure time was late enough for me to see the sunrise from my kitchen windows. Brown filtered skies. Although, this time, I really didn't smell smoke while I was out.

I'm going to assume smoke coming my way is from the Antonio Fire which is about 65 miles east of here just west of Mount Baldy, below Mount San Antonio and has already been burning for 10 days. 

Here's the sad news from Cal Fires latest Tweet, a few hours ago...

10,382 firefighters/personnel continue to make progress on the 10 large wildfires that are currently burning in CA. In total the wildfires this year have burned over 1 million acres.

As it turns out the air quality index (AQI) was and remains pretty good where I am with a forecast of moderate. Nevertheless, I chose to only walk about a mile and a half today, not take the evil stairs and not hang out on the campus too long. It also seemed apparent and was confirmed on my exit walk back to the car that some classes were about to take place on the campus. I wasn't encouraged to hang around a bunch of college students. 

Here were some quick shots.

Male Anna's hummingbird, Dusty, was busy again chasing intruders. This time I wasn't seeing Selasphorus rufus as far as I could tell. It seems a little too early for them to migrate. They usually leave about the same time the Salvia darcyi gets cut back which is late October/early November. Dusty's main competitor today was a male Selasphorus sasin who was just getting his adult plumage.

Here's Dusty.

 Here's his Selasphorus sasin (Allen's hummingbird) intruder. Iridescent gorget feathers were showing, I just missed that shot, because somebody had to chase him away. I also witnessed a moment where this bird was courting a female, then they both got chased away.

Also competing for Salvia darcyi nectar have been numerous carpenter bees. Almost every time I've arrived there are just a couple but as soon as it warms up a bit they're everywhere. They're big you know, sometimes you think it's a hummingbird when off in a peripheral view.

 Another mourning dove in a familiar spot and oh what a difference a change in angle and lighting can make.

That's it!

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Today's walk report: 080821

 Repeat performance from last Sunday, sans a black vulture.

I went out about the same time as the last walk report, did the same route. My mood was pensive. Music was random, on shuffle, from a playlist of 215 songs (20 hours and 11 minutes) and for the most part also reflected deep thought. I often contemplated white mice and the number 42.

These flowers are on the same cacti I took pictures of on July 24th. I thought they were done but nope.

 When I first arrived in male Calypte anna, Dusty's playground, I wondered where he was for a moment and then he shot right past me, chasing an intruder. After that he was unusually close to me for much of my short stay. Several times he came well within arms length of my head or body. It was the first time I felt he recognized me, the sound of my camera and the little imitation hummingbird noises I make. 

 Typical perch places...

Moving over to a few  Salvia microphylla 'Berzerkeley' plants, this is where Dusty was all over me... and the flowers.

Lots of butt shots...

I didn't wander around the garden much more after that. I thought about taking on the stairs and before excuses could commence their evil ways I pointed myself in that direction and started walking.

When I first had entered the main walkway to the garden and was a long way from these balloons (about 333 meters away) I thought... what are those people doing and why are they dressed like that?

Rock head.

Oh, it's Moo again.

Something to ponder: Do you know why there is no evidence of naturally occurring smallpox transmission anywhere in the world?