Saturday, August 22, 2015

What's Jade Green and Smooth?

Mang Mountain Pit Viper, Zhaoermia mangshanensis, is the largest of the Asian pit vipers, growing to over 11 feet in length, making it the largest of the Asian pit vipers.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Red Phalaenopsis!

Dtps. I-Hsin Red Rose
Red Phalaenopsis have been somewhat elusive.  While there are some, few have large numbers of flowers and the long arching sprays that most of us associate with Phalaenopsis.  Here's a pretty one that's well along the way towards that goal.

The View From Idyllwild

Went for a short hike to the end of the road in one of the subdivisions in Idyllwild, California.  Here's the view!  Very peaceful with wild asters and lupine.  Worth the drive.

Huge Carpenter Ants!


Carpenter Ant, Campo, California. Carpenter ant swarms usually occur in the spring and are a sign that a colony is nesting somewhere inside the structure. They usually get into a house through holes, where trees branches contact the house or from wooden structures attached to the house like a porch or deck.

While large carpenter ant colonies can cause structural damage, it is not as serious as that from termites. The degree of any potential damage can only be determined by locating the nest area.

Looking for Perseids

Went up to Campo, California to see the Persieds.  We were two days off peak and there was nary a meteor.  Perhaps a few and a few helicopters and jets to boot.  Still, it was awesome to see all those stars!

Monday, August 10, 2015

A New Look at the Naked Lady Amarallis, Amarillis belladonna

Amarillis belladonna, commonly called the Naked Lady Amarillis, due to it's bare stems that rise out of the ground in late Summer and Fall, is typically a light pink color.  However, I happened upon a batch of 50 mixed bulbs that had been hybridized some time ago, by a now deceased hybridizer.  The bulbs were being sold on EBay fairly inexpensively and had apparently been growing wild in the desert.  Most were still moderately small so I've been waiting for about 2 years for these to start to bloom.  I think it was worth the wait.  Of course, I'm a plant lover, so...  Note that these need very little if any water during the Summer and like well drained soil.

This clone is just a hair darker than the typical variety but has the most wonderful striping.

An albino clone that is quite delicate and elegant.

Here is a particularly bright colored clone, one of my favorites.

This is the typically colored Amarillis belladonna, a wonderfully robust and hardy grower.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus

Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus, hanging out on a wire.  These little guys stash acorns from Oak trees into holes they peck into the bark of neighboring pine trees.  Idyllwild, California.

Late-blooming Wildflowers at Idyllwild, California

Evening Primrose Oenothera elata ssp hookeri

Late Purple Aster Symphyotrichum patens

Lupinus excubitus Grape soda lupine

Wild Sweet Pea Lathyrus latifolia

The Bishop's Lotus, Lotus strigosus, a furry leaved, yellow wildflower in the pea family, Idyllwild, California. These generally grow in sandy sage scrub.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What's Blooming Today?

Stuff blooming around the house.  The Encyclia are in full season as are the Sobralias!  If you go to Central America you can see Sobralias blooming right along the road.  They're not so common in cultivation in America though.  Quite the shame.

Encyclia ambigua

Encyclia gracile x Encyclia Orchid Jungle

Encyclia tampense alba 'Mendenhall'

Sobralia La Folie

Sobralia macrantha 'Angelica'

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

San Diego County Orchid Society Show

There were three AOS awards at the San Diego County Orchid Society Show.

Catyclia Leaf Hopper 'Bruce Berg' HCC/AOS

Dracula Raven 'Windflower' HCC/AOS

Encyclia Lorraine Smith 'Arnieberry' AM/AOS

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Small Waves but Still Some Fun to be Had

The shore was covered with tuna crabs, washed in by the tide.  It was enough to attract a modest crowd.  Some of us busied ourselves, perhaps futilely  returning the live tuna crabs to the surf.  Out in the water, the waves were big enough to push the surfers along for a few moments but not too much more, often cresting from multiple points in the wave at the same time.  Besides, there were probably more surfers than waves to go around.  However, a few of the faithful managed to make some good sport out of the waves, this surfer managing to launch up into the air and, somewhat to my surprise, land back on the board.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Tuna Crabs Invade Ocean Beach

Heerman's Gulls, Larus heermannii, fighting over a Tuna crab stranded on the beach.

This pelagic red crab (Pleuroncodes planipes), also known as the tuna crab, is one of many tuna crabs washed ashore during the June 2015 El Nino event. Tuna crabs are one of the more numerous pelagic creatures populating the California current. As such, they they are a favored food of tuna, yellowtail, billfish, sea otters, whales, and sea birds. It is speculated that they wash ashore as part of a spawning event, with the larvae riding the current out into the central Pacific. As they grow larger, they descent into a deeper current with then returns them towards the coast of North and South America.

I searched for the tuna crabs that were still living, despite having been stranded on the beach, and set this little tuna crab and some of his tuna crab brothers & sisters back into the tide.  Futile?  Perhaps...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Pictures from the San Diego County Fair

Lots of plants, art, fossils, rocks and animals plus fried food galore!  That's the county fair for you.  Here are a few pictures from a fun day at the fair.

Aloe tomentosa

Dahlia Pee Gee

The amazing racing piggies!

Those little piggies really fly!


Monday, May 25, 2015

Natural Hybrid Hummingbird (Anna's X Allen's)

A lovely male hummingbird showing a gorget that is intermediate between the Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte Anna) and the Allen's Hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin). Apparently, hummingbirds occassionally interbreed. This Anna's x Allen's hybrid was once named as a new species, Selasphorus floresii, until it was determined that it was actually a naturally occurring hybrid.

When I shot this picture, I remember being simply transfixed by the brilliant gorget feathers that reflected a brilliant copper-orange and metallic red, thinking it was the most beautiful hummingbird I had seen.  I was so transfixed, that, while I registered that the coloration was uniquely attractive and hypnotic under the sun,  I only realized this handsome male bird was likely a hybrid when I looked again at the picture, comparing it to multiple pictures before posting.  After much searching online, I finally found pictures of hummingbird hybrids and confirmed that this is likely an Anna's by Allen's hybrid.