Poppy pageantry

This weekend I was able to get out on both Saturday and Sunday – no work requirements interfered. Unfortunately, my trip to Happy Canyon Road was not too fruitful because of a very strong wind.

A little beyond the shooting range, on a small promontory facing southish, there were many shooting stars and chocolate lilies. They were somewhat on the dry side because of the exposure to both sun and wind. I did not even try shooting the waving shooting stars, and got one semi-reasonable chocolate lily against the sky, where the skylight turned the chocolate color dark red.

Wishbone Bush
(California Poppy – March 8, 2008)

Buckbrush ceanothus was blooming as profusely on the Happy Canyon side of the mountain as the other side. In the riverine area, many trees were budding – big-leaf maple, California bay, red willow (I think) – and others were sprouting new leaves. I drove to the “end” of Happy Canyon and back; seen were California poppy, more chaparral currant; miner’s lettuce, prickly poppy, California manroot and unfortunately many patches of non-native henbit closer to built-up areas.

Wishbone Bush
(Collarless Poppy, Sky Lupine – March 9, 2008)

On Sunday, I visited one of my favorite canyons that usually has a variety of flowers blooming in sequence over spring and summer, and is a good place to see butterflies. It has a number of different habitats along the length of the reasonably short road. Last year it was as dry as a bone, with nary a bloom in one of the worst droughts in many years.

This year, once again, flowers have returned with collarless california poppy and sky lupine leading the way. Several butterflies were seen on both days, but they were flitting very fast in their low-to-the-ground horizontal scanning for mates mode. I guess one will have to wait for the vertical dancing of found mates followed by rest, to get a chance to photograph the butterflies.

Wishbone Bush
(Sky Lupine from the top – I love the patterns in nature – March 9, 2008)

 

Refugio Road

I spent a few hours Sunday afternoon on Refugio Road, where a number of early spring flowers were seen and photographed. Among them, Bigpod Ceanothus, which I was able to identify now with the alternate rule – in fact it seems like the branches are alternate as well. In the photo below, the clusters of flowers are arranged alternately on the stem. Bigpod Ceanothus was blooming profusely, as well as a few Green Bark Ceanothus plants.

Bigpod Ceanothus
(Bigpod Ceanothus – March 2, 2008)

Bigpod Ceanothus
(Bigpod Ceanothus – March 2, 2008)

I was happy to find some other early bloomers of which I had previously taken mediocre photographs – Wishbone Bush and Indian Warrior. One of the most surprising plants was a California Fuschia.

Indian Warrior
(Indian Warrior – March 2, 2008)

Wishbone Bush
(Wishbone Bush – March 2, 2008)

Most of the early bloomers were lower down on the mountain; as I drove higher, no flowering plants were seen, and this dearth was made even sparser by the roadside clearing that appears to have been done this winter. I turned around before going too much further, and spent some time walking along a part of the road where I had photographed a Broomrape in a previous year. While photographing a number of ferns, I spotted a probable fungus growing in a downed log. Normally, I don’t see or notice those kinds of growth, but this was bright orange – hard to miss. It was not very close, and I used the zoom lens to take a photo.

Fungus
(Fungus – March 2, 2008)

Cedar Waxwings

Cedar Waxwings have returned to the cul-de-sac at home. They perch, with their high-pitched “tseee” sound, on the bare branches of trees edging the common garden area. There they wait and watch for a quiet moment to fly in a swarm to the pyracantha bushes full of ripe berries.

Cedar Waxwing
(Cedar Waxwing – March 1, 2008)

Cedar Waxwing
(Cedar Waxwings – March 1, 2008 – Click image to see large version)

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