Friday, September 4, 2015

Late summer: Yosemite, clouds, cowboys & cutting out California wine...


Tiny, gorgeous fork-tailed (I think) bush katydid nymph on California poppy, chez-nous.
This young creature is backing verrrry slowwwly away from yours truly. =) 

Got a twitter-heads up that "mares tails" were in the Mariposa county sky,
so I looked out the window:
They're lonnnnng, thin clouds
(streaky left-to-right thing, not the vertical contrail).

And this one had a rainbow in it. BONUS.

The garden is underwhelming this year (I'm being very stingy with water),
but these pea flowers really do have the golden sparkles you can see, here.
It's one of the few things our local Anna's hummingbird gets excited about in my garden.

I need more flowers, next year.
I'll have to make additional drought tolerant, flowering plants happen.
Maybe next year the (very drought-tolerant) pomegranates I planted will bloom?
And the baby California roses? Maybe? Crossing fingers. =)

And Away

Hiking to Lukens Lake in Yosemite, recently, 
we happened upon a family of
one of my favorite & most rarely-seen birds: mountain quail.
Can you see them atop the log?

Adults have exclamation points atop their heads (v. Calif. quail have commas).

And cropped again. Such a stunning bird, jeepers.

Crap photos, but I was thrilled.
A stunning bird with a haunting call that can
send a chill up your spine when you're hiking in the forest.

The ever-picturesque Lukens Lake. A super easy hike, even at ~ 8,000 feet in elevation.
Note smoke on horizon, from the Rough Fire.

At the lake, I ogled this beautiful snag.
I have a thing for dead trees...
 I love how 'neath the bark is what looks like
a mysterious language scrawled into the tree.

What does it say?!?
 I wanna know.

Sat at the edge of Lukens lake with dozens of blue damselflies.

Sharpest shot I got (via my non-telephoto lens):
Such gorgeous animals, jeepers.

See the little damselfly, center right, resting on a leaf?

Most of the corn lily was past blooming,
but this one, in the shade by the lake, was still going.
There were numerous happy bees merrily visiting these flowers.

Recently, in Tuolumne county, I was later to a work site than I'd planned, due to a traffic jam.
They had a bunch of cows & their young on the road. Poor creatures sounded stressed.

It took several men & horses, a dog & lots of yelling & arm-waving to get the job done.
Finally, cattle off the road, I drove past slowly, stealing a shot of this horse & its super fit bod.
Check out that crazy butt. This was back in August,
so you probably want to be lean in that heat
(daily over 100F in central CA).

Horses are SO beautiful (IMHO), I find it confusing.
Why do they affect us this way (from an evolutionary perspective)?
Did we co-evolve with them, so a desire to have horses could be selected for?
Or have we just selectively bred them to increase what we consider attractive traits?

Last, but not least, a tiny conservation vignette,
and why I may never accompany DH to this golf course again.

This sign calls the vineyards an "ecologically sensitive area."
Biobabbler's head exploded when she read this.
The quotation marks definitely indicate sarcasm, to me, in this case.
The baby vines are in the white tubes, in front of the mature vines (green in the background).

I never golf ('cause Imma conservation biologist), but I accompany DH and look at birds.

However, I used to love this course 'cause it had
large stretches of native California habitat in it
(vs. an entirely transformed, non-native landscape).

This is very unusual for golf courses in California.

But, this summer all those native spaces were razed and converted to vineyards.

Vineyards are crawling across California,
taking out so much of California's remaining, unique native habitats,
it is a serious source of habitat destruction.
For something we do not need to survive.

And who knows how much water they are using?

Yours truly doing fieldwork in California habitat.
Thinking deep thoughts.  =)

Therefore, I've decided will not drink California wine, pretty much as of now.

I'm sure this decision won't be felt by the wine industry,
but I cannot reward this behavior (by giving them my money)
and feel OK about how I'm living my life.

So, thank you, darling peeps, for letting me express this.
I feel better, now.




  1. I have missed your posts but then again I've hardly gotten out there with my camera myself lately... Lovely as ever. Thanks!

    1. d'aw, thanks. Yup, think I should be posting more now. Got my head wrapped around current work project, and birds are no longer breeding, so I am seeing the rest of the world now. =) xo

  2. So glad to hear that the drought hasn't defeated the colours and wildlife in your garden. And I gave a Whoop! when I saw the damselflies, then spotted that the first photo was of a couple becoming romantically entangled (I have to admit, odo love isn't that romantic). The species looks a bit similar to our Common Blue, but I have no knowledge of American odes. I echo your sentiments regarding the golf course - to rip out natural habitat and replace it with any kind of crop seems rather crass. It may only be a drop in the wine lake, but we will stand shoulder to shoulder with you and your embargo (well, I say 'shoulder to shoulder', we may have to stand on a box to manage that!).

    1. =) I didn't mention it, but I unknowingly stumbled upon the modern equivalent of Studio 54's back rooms in the 70s. LOTS of odo action in that little patch of sunny Lukens Lake beach. I'm sure I blushed. =)

      Ah, THANK you for that re: California wines. =) Lovely of you to do that.

      Yeah, shoulder-to-shoulder can be in spirit, and often is. =) You are 10 feet tall in the Quality Writing & Blog Posts department, even if writing while laying on the floor on your tummy.

  3. I appreciate that you vote with your dollars---I wish more people did! It's terrible how native habitats (and the creatures that dwell there) are being destroyed!

    Love the photos, as always, and congrats on spotting your rare quail.

  4. PS---I meant to say if you want drought tolerant (very!!) , plant agastache in all it's forms. Bee and hummingbird magnets and they HATE water!

  5. Replies
    1. Aw, thanks!!! I love your avatar, rockstar. =) xoxoxoxo

  6. Whenever we're driving through newly planted vineyards (roadsides along Hwy 101 has been going gangbusters the past 5-10 years - Paso Robles anyone?), I like to joke that we're entering "Jesus Country" - turning precious water into overflowing cheap wine. The amount of H20 needed for golf courses also turns my stomach, not to mention the ton of pesticides needed to maintain the pristine green. In the mean time, our residential water rates have tripled. Tripled!

    ps - Thanks to your inspiration, I submitted a few photos into this year's local county fair. No ribbons, but it was a huge step for me.

    1. Oh, Katie, I'm so PROUD of you for entering your photos to the fair!! Just getting that done is MAJOR, as you say. Congratulations. =) Gold stars galore. =) And, btw, the level of competition is HIGHLY variable, county to county, and of course anything with the word judge (as in judging photos) is subjective. =)

      Yes, I was in Paso & around there. Super yikes. And, yes, the water & pesticides are all part of why I'll never be a golfer. Priorities in that area that don't seem to coincide with the best interests of people at large. xoxoxo


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