Friday, June 17, 2016

The county fair & photo exhibit + 3 bonus photos just 4 u. =)

 So, 1st: apologies for NOT POSTING in MAY. Wow.
(Throws biodegradable glitter to distract you.)

Fair Foto Fun

I entered some of my photos in a nearby county fair at the end of May.

Very exciting & less totally nerve-wracking than last time.
Perhaps experience breeds calm? Or, at least lack-of-total-freakout. =D

The fair itself was last weekend, and that's when I learned how I did.

Which is pretty well! =)
Got 1st & 2nd in 8/9 photos.

I'll take it! =D

I ALSO got to ogle other's lovely & inspiring work.
Which is MOST enjoyable.

One professional/advanced photographer's work I LOVED was Christopher Viney.
His 1st place photo in landscape:

And his 1st place agriculture photo:
How surprising & abstract is that for "agriculture?" Too cool.

So, I got curious & googled his name.
Apparently, when he's not being a rockin' great photographer,
he is teaching physics at UC Merced.

Clearly, not much goin' on, there. =D

Here's another shot I LOVED (flower)
but unfortunately didn't get the photographer's name in the shot.

Crazy good.
DH's party shirt (white horseshoes on red background)
& me & my Trader Joe's bad made some weird reflections, therein.

Also ogled sundry gorgeous cows.

 Mama & junior looking coy (typo was "cow"). =)

DH in his happy place: Part I
 Petting the cute little goats.

DH in his happy place: Part II
 Look out, honey, your Midwestern heritage is showing!

They have a pretty nice range of old tractors there so we took in the tractor parade.

Fun was had by all.


Bonus Pics

And just for fun, the elegant sphinx moth (Sphinx perelegans) I found on our garden gate
(species ID confirmed by my moth-y expert friend, Dr. Dan Rubinoff)
"Don't see my eyes!"

This is a LARGE moth. From ~3.5" to 4.25."
Made my DAY.
And it blended in PERFECTLY with the faded grey wood. =)

Dr. Dan said they raise their young on manzanita (among other things),
so this pup could have grown up right here. =)

Last, this flower went into a windstorm with wet hair,
and now looks AMAZING! =D

And when open, this bee was VERY happy to be there.

Note the white pollen coating its legs. =)

Thassit! I hope your summer (or winter) is starting out well.
It's been AMAZINGLY mild & wonderful this last week, 
but is on schedule to fling itself into the 100s soon, 
so I'll have to start taking Stop Whining pills then.

For now, I will simply bask in the glory that is our world right NOW.



Tuesday, April 12, 2016

I love spring

On the road

My commute home from work site--skirting the storm.
 It's so great to see the hills all green after years of drought.
Check out how the rainbow is doubling itself (at the bottom).

One of the cutest things I've EVER seen: baby killdeer
with its siblings and very busy parents at Merced National Wildlife Refuge.
Check out that TINY wing! =)

Snow goose, also at the Merced NWR.
That beak makes me think of a sock puppet, for some reason... =)

This native phlox was SO frothy & pink (on highway 166) we HAD to pull over
during our drive to Carrizo Plain NM.

The Carrizo Plain NM: a fascinating place.
Heaven for a minimalist, and I was anxious to visit, since
the last time we saw it, it was 4 years into a drought.
 Soda Lake stirred by wind.

Carrizo Plain had greened up nicely, thanks to El Niño.

Desert candle (Caulanthus inflatus), a species I'd never seen before, at Carrizo Plain NM.
Another thing we saw from the car & stopped to investigate. =)

We drove up elevation from Carrizo & found purple puddles of Phacelia. So great!

Closer shot of Phacelia--love those flamboyant anthers. =)

More wildflower puddles, north and uphill of the Carrizo Plain.

Back home

Band-tailed pigeons appeared under our bird feeder—that was a first!
They are SO much bigger than mourning doves (upper left corner).
Love their bright beaks & feet.

Ladybird beetle upon lilac. Ah, spring! =)

 The new climbing rose we just bought is making me swoon.
 I have a thing for anthers...

Wavyleaf soap plant (Chlorogalum pomeridianum) beading water beautifully. =)

Lovely variegated miner's lettuce (Claytonia spp.) on our property that caught my eye.
So stylish! =)

Last, a wild hyacinth (Dichelostemma capitatum) on our property.
What an elegant beauty.

I hope you all are having a marvelous spring (or fall).
It's a pretty amazing thing.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Wild (speedy) wildlife photo fling

Just in case you don't follow me on Twitter or Instagram,
I wanted to be sure you see the lovely creatures
that have been gracing our property, of late.  =)

The grand coyote (Canis latrans) arrived after big splashes of rain.

Was cruising around, hunting gophers,
spending a lot of time looking about (hence, Wily Coyote).
(Note coat is wet fm. all that rain)

The classic LEAP & JAM down into gopher tunnels. =)

We also saw bobcat (Lynx rufus).
That fence is at the northern (and very wild) edge of our property.
Source of many great things for a biologist. =)

Sleepy bobcat in manzanita shade at the edge of our driveway.
Very exciting for me, but I only allowed myself 3 photos, 
then left that window so it could relax w/o the paparazzi. =)

And, here's an animal both the above species love to eat,
and of which we have plenty, the humble gopher (Thomomys spp.).
Attracts SO many exciting carnivores for me to ogle. =)

 Wily Coyote Tale

I'd recently noticed the fencing of our hen's porch
seemed a little more pulled away from the framing than it had been.
As if a creature was helping that process along...

So, investigating it to asses when & how to fix it,
I saw FOUR long hairs right at one of the pulled-away corners.

Pretty sure hair that long is from a coyote.

Funny, when I'm about (& awake) the coyote studiously avoids the hen house.

Looks like when the humans are snoozing,
coyotes return & look into opening that tantalizing snack shack.

Since then I've shored it up & will do more of that work today.

Mechanical exclusion is my #1 method for dealing with pests,
whether they're gophers or deer (gardening) or coyotes & bobcats (chickens).

That way, if I'm smart, there's no need to kill anything.

These giant brains can be very useful, if we employ them. =)


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Tiny worlds...

 Baby blue-eyes (Nemophila menziesii) sprung open this a.m.

And therein I found things I never saw clearly before I got a macro lens.

Little worlds are everywhere...
Probably globular springtails, see

Tiny little lives, everywhere you look...


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

February flash, flung 1 day late =D

 He is glorious; she has the munchies.
It's that time of year, turkeys parading all over.
I LOVE the percussion males provide to accompany their dance. SO COOL!

Squirrel-y cunning leads to tasty breakfast.
Extremely impressive core strength in this creature.

new-to-me species!

Common sharp-tailed snake (Contia tenuis) I found while raking around the grape arbor.
 Pretty gorgeous tummy, eh?
Those are pine needles, so you can see this is a SMALL snake.

It was kinda cold, so I righted the snake for a photo,
then returned it to its home under a bunch of leaf litter.
Such an exciting discovery, and I'm glad it was unharmed (far as I could tell).
For more info on this species, I highly recommend its page at Calherps.

Now that gardening activity is on the upswing (here in the northern hemisphere),
a friendly reminder to CHECK under your row covers
EACH a.m. & release anything trapped w/in. =)
Beautiful male wasp (ichneumon, I believe)
I found under my row cover and released. 

It was 0% aggressive and, btw, males don't have the
equipment to sting. Note LACK of pointy barb @ end. =)

From February 1st--note the snow on the ground.
Seems like FOREVER ago. =)

Super cool stuff soil does when the cold freezes the water out.
I didn't grow up in really cold places, so this is fascinating to me. 

One of the first macro photos I ever took was
of this non-native early bloomer, red-stemmed filaree.
Changed my view of the world.
I'm a sucker for visible pollen grains, especially on purple anthers! =)

A lovely little flower...

Gorgeous small beetle I saw clambering across the greenery as I photographed the above flower.
So glad I got to see it.

Wildlife prints I found at the work site:
best part is the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) print...
you can SEE the fur on the underside of the fox feet. SO cool!

K. That's some of the myriad delights that transpired in spring.

March onward!!! =)


Monday, January 11, 2016

I FINALLY planted milkweed seed. WOOT! =)

Did some work in the a.m., then in the afternoon felt unwell.
DH prescribed gardening.
Who am I to question him? =)

So, planting milkweed seed was priority one.

I weeded this iris plot (protected fm. gophers via that wire mesh)
and got to work.

I took photos 'cause I've learned that where I plant X Y and Z
stays in my brain about 15 minutes.

Next day, it's gone.

SO, I made these! =)

And here's the details, re: the seed packets.
I'd researched it in the past to find spp. native to California
and which help monarchs specifically, butterflies in general.

Note the one above likes to be over 1,000 feet in elevation: we're 3500, so we're a go!

Note: "packed for 2014" means I shoulda planted them 2 falls ago,
but, whatever.

Planted is better than not planted.
Part of learning to garden is learning to quash the perfectionist.

Just. Do. Something.

Also, I paid for these (& a bunch of to-be-planted-in-spring kinds)
versus looking for a free source. 
My priority was get the right spp. for our area & bugs.
Didn't cost much, anyhow. =)

Next, I had to protect our seeds from the HOARDS of hungry seed-eating birds:

Before I learned this trick, I'd plant seed mixes and get almost nothing.
I concluded I was a crap gardener.

Turns out, dark-eyed juncos (& friends) kick through & eat seeds on & under the ground.

So, I protected newly planted areas in the above manner
and suddenly I had LOTS of BABY PLANTS! Total miracle.


Next I need to attach that wire mesh to wood so it's safe for wildlife.

But, now, having followed my husband's recommended cure,
I am now well, AND I've got 3 species of milkweed planted in our garden.

Some of which can grow to 5 feet. SWEET!!

One of the best things about gardening is it gives you things to look forward to.
Like stunning, fabulous flowers attracting stunning, fabulous insect life
that I then get to ogle and PHOTOGRAPH.