Wednesday, April 23, 2008

One down. . .

The bluish flower in the pictures from last Wednesday was probably Phacelia distans.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Coreopsis. . .I mean, not Coreopsis

The predominant flower in the field was a variety of Coreopsis*. All I can get out of the book that I mentioned in my last post (no way I'm typing all that title again!) is that it is neither Coreopsis californicus nor Coreopsis bigelovii.These flowers tend to face towards the sun.
Anyway, there were quite a few of them.
In fact you might even say there were a lot of them.

Or more than a lot, however many that might be.
*After I had posted this, I showed the pictures to my Dad, and he was of the opinion that they were no kind of Coreopsis at all but probably some sort of Ranunculus. Stay tuned for breaking news on the subject. . .


This morning I had a little time before work to stop by the field I was taking pictures of last Wednesday. It was much earlier in the day than my last visit and just chilly enough to keep the bees dormant. Besides one huge, fat bumblebee who looked wooly enough to withstand a much colder morning, the only trace of life was the absent chirping of a few crickets. I found a little patch of Dichelostemma pulchella, which I have always known as Brodiaea. A more accessible common name, which I found, along with the scientific one in A Flower Watcher's Guide to Spring Blooming Wildflowers of the Antelope Valley is "wild hyacinth".

Friday, April 18, 2008

(Taken Wednesday)

You've heard all about how a picture is worth a thousand words. Unfortunately, this one is just a temptation to write a thousand words to tell you that this is a poor imitation of what it really looked like. In real life there was none of the grey tinge of the picture; the sky was a clear, deep blue, the hill was vivid green. Yes, vivid, which comes from the Latin for "alive" was exactly what it was, moving with mild eddies of wind and bending under the feet of hundreds of contented creatures, bees and butterflies. My feet were not quite so graceful as those of the bees and butterflies, but I was mighty contented too. It was like falling into a picture a child had painted with the unmixed colors out of a dollar watercolor box. Where the hill was not green, it was an impossible yellow, and where it was not yellow or green, it was lavander.

This was the flower responsible for the lavander patches. I'm at the start of a busy weekend (following a busy week) and don't have time to ferret out what it is--but details will follow.

[EDITED 04/23/08] It appears to be a wild heliotrope, Phacelia distans, or something closely related to it.

Now that's what you call a good audience!

One of my co-workers plays folk music every few weeks for the shut-ins in the geriatric ward of the hospital. Many of these folks are not in the best of health physically or mentally, but Steve's entertainment is certainly appreciated. He was telling me today about one occasion when he looked around the room and saw that everyone was asleep except for one little old lady who was smiling and clapping her hands. She stayed attentive right to the end of the show, obviously enjoying herself. When Steve was packing to go home she confided, "I'll be so happy when I get my hearing aids back and I can hear you play!"

Sunday, April 13, 2008

This looked like too good a photo opportunity to pass up. Semp was on a leash, which doesn't show in the picture, but he and the cat are pretty good pals, and the cat was there of his own free will.

Before I could get a really good shot, the cat had had enough.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Yesterday was the Kern County Highland Games (at Stramler Park, in Bakersfield). I brought my camera with all sorts of good intentions (Massed Bands would make for some excellent photos, although it is a bit difficult to snap pictures and play the pipes at the same time) but all I ended up having time for were these not particularly Scottish pictures of the jousting. I had volunteered to help the stewards at the piping competition which, as things turned out, involved several trips off the premises to visit a copy machine. I was returning from one of these jaunts when a friend pointed out that a jousting match was about to start. I had never seen the like so I was quite eager to watch, but when we came to the sidelines, the crowd was already pretty thick. I snapped a few hurried pictures thanks to a soft-spoken young fellow who offered me his place temporarily, "'Cause y'all have a camera."

A knight with a microphone. . .and palm tree, and a baseball field in the background. You don't see that every day, do you?

Not one of my better photos, to be sure. I wish I'd had an opportunity to ask the jousters what sort of horses they were riding. They were enormous! (The horses, I mean.) I had to get back to the piping area so I didn't stick around for the actual tournament, but I believe the rules are a bit different than they were 700 years ago; they are no longer allowed to knock each other off the horses, but they get points for touching each other with their lances, similar to fencing.

And sadly, yes, that is it for photos from the Bakersfield Games--one of the best photo opportunities for the year! This gives a pretty skewed view of things as, although, there are various reinactors, like these, the main side I see of the Games, and that which I would most like to show other folks, is the piping. Then again, you can all be thankful that I overcame the temptation I had to stop and take pictures of a swarm of bees which were crawling in and out through a crack in a telephone pole.

Lepidoptera Galore

I was walking out to clean my car Friday night when I came across this beauty which had come to the porch light. It's a White-lined Sphinx, a relative of the Pacific Green Sphinx I posted a few weeks back. This is a pretty big moth too; the picture as it appears here may be a hair larger than life-sized, but it is close.

In last week's butterfly department, on the other hand, I was to delighted when I noticed that there were a good many Painted Ladies (Vanessa cardui) out and about. These tough little butterflies are often hatched in Sonora, Mexico, but fly north as the weather gets warmer. The offspring of those that fly through here en route to the northern San Joaquin may migrate as far as British Columbia. Of course, I wanted to get my own picture of one, but the main part of the migration took place during the working hours of working days. I did toy with the idea of trying to lure a few down into the yard at the shop so I Googled "attracting butterflies". The resulting sites suggested that I plant a butterfly garden. I still have not taken a picture of a Painted Lady.