Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bulbophyllum lobbii

Bulbophyllum lobbii 'Kathy's Gold', Le greenhouse. The orchids are blooming up a storm. Something new every couple of days! It's a lot of fun! Here is Bulbophyllum lobbii 'Kathy's Gold' AM/AOS.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Sunset

Sunset...from the Bathroom window. It can't be all bad, can it? What a sunset!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Orchid Crack...

Brassovola cucullata, in the greenhouse. The vast majority of these (that I've seen anyhow) are white. However, once in a while, there is a yellow one and occasionally even a red one. I don't know if these are regional variations or just color sports. They are found from Mexico all the way down to Columbia and Venezuela so there may be regional variation. Some of them have these really cool curly cue sepals as well. This one is actually a nice rusty orange although you wouldn't know it as the flash bleached it out a bit. Color variants are, as the title suggests, totally fun stuff for orchid growers. For most orchids, growers look for albas (whites) and coeruleas (blues) but, with an orchid that is normally white, getting something with nice color is always a real treat.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Thug at the Bird Feeder

Cooper's Hawk, Accipiter cooperii, San Diego, California. This little hawk has been staking out both my and the neighbor's bird feeder. He will swoop in low around the houses as if they were the sides of canyons, using them for cover, to pounce on any dove or songbird that is slow to leave the feeder(s). You can tell he's coming by via the explosion of birds leaving the feeder in a wild flutter of wings. They go every which way. Some go up. Some go into the ferns but they typically all get away to visit the feeder another day. Obviously, however, they don't always get away since the hawk is still avidly hanging out. He's figured out that they hang out in the ferns as well. The other day he spent quite some time on the sidewalf just outside the ferns waiting, hoping perhaps, that one of the little birds in the ferns would come out. [Oh can you imagine what was going through the mind of the little guys hiding in the ferns as he poked his head into the foliage?!!!] The brown tinge on the edge of the photo is from me hiding in back on the redwood railing, shooting the picture between the bars of the railing in an attempt not to spook him.

This species feeds mostly on songbirds and small rodents so this is his M.O. (modus operandi). A month or so ago, he swooped over the neighbor's feeder and one of the doves freaked out, flew smack into the neighbor's plate glass door and became dinner. He snagged the dove and carried it up into the oak tree to eat. The leaves were too thick to see the hawk eating; however, I could see the little white, downy feathers drifting down from the oak tree like Winter snowflakes lazily floating in the wind. I felt a tinge of sadness but only a tinge, realizing that it is all part of the web of life. A hawk's gotta eat after all, right?

Friday, June 26, 2009

What's Blooming in the Greenhouse?

Lc. Carmela's Tropical Beauty x Mem. Robert Strait. A little first bloom seedling that was blooming in the greenhouse.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Andy's Orchids

Elleanthus aureus, Andy's Orchids, Encinitas, California. Andy has all kinds of orchid species from all over the world. He grows most on moss covered sticks just like in the wild. This one has tall reed-like stems (about 4ft tall) and otherwise looks pretty inobtrusive until it blooms with the most amazingly colored orange flowers. Wow. He grows this outside under shade cloth. One of the benefits of being on the California Coast I suppose.

Ah, if you're wondering about the midterm...it's over and I think I survived in one piece. However, as they say, don't count your chickens until they've hatched (grins sheepishly).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Splish, Splash, I am Taking a Bath...

Well, no, I'm actually studying for a midterm tomorrow or supposed to be anyhow. I'm posting this without the usual ID since that takes a while. A whole flock of these little finch-like birds were taking a bath in the stream, using the stepping stones/crossing to avoid getting in over their heads. It was captivating. If someone wants to volunteer to do the ID for me, I'd be happy to accept an ID. Cheers. -WH

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cute Little Pink Orchids...

Ascofinetia Petit Bouquet. These are a wonderful, sparkling pink. They still have the nectaries from their Neofinetia ancestors but have the bright coloration from Ascocentrum. They grow easy enough, something inherited from the Neofinetia parent, and are adorable. What more can you ask?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ant Wasp

Ant Wasp, dasymutilla occidentalis, Santa Ysabel Preserve. It looked like a giant, red, furry ant! However, I am told that this is not an ant at all but rather an ant wasp and that it has a most painful sting! In fact, one of their nicknames is "cow killer." Glad I didn't muss with it. They apparently lay their eggs in bublebee burrows where their larvae prey upon developing bumblebees.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Beautiful Blush

Laelia lobata 'Jennie' x Laelie purpurata. Huge plant with around 6-7 flowers on one huge spike. Wow, quite a showstopper.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Cow with Calf, Santa Ysabel Preserve. Does this give new meaning to the word cowlick? And you thought YOU had a cowlick! Besides, whatever your Mom did to keep your hair flat, she probably didn't LICK YOUR EAR! Ooooh my.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What, No Leaves?

Chiloschista nakornpanomensis, Asian leafless orchid. I bought this as Chilochista usenoides but, as often happens with these odd species, it's not.

Still, no stir fry here! All roots and stems and the prettiest flowers. This is an Asian leafless (or mostly leafless) orchid. You may have heard of the ghost orchid (Polyradicion lindenii formerly Polyrrhiza lindenii) from the swamps of Florida. Apparently, there are similar leafless orchids in Asia as well (only much more sociable and charming!). They are often fragrant and absolutely darling when in bloom. When they're not in bloom...well, they're pretty much just a bunch of roots. Cool, huh?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hooded Oriole Chicks Have Arrived!

Hooded Oriole chicks in nest on banana leaf, Icterus cucullatus. It always amazes me that mamma oriole can weave a nest under a banana leaf! I'm not sure I could do anything close even if I tried! She carefully punctures the leaf and threads anchoring grass in and out of the leaf edges. She then adds mass to make the basket of the nest. Add eggs and voila! The nests must be pretty strong as well since those babies are not at all petite!

This Hooded Oriole pair have nested for several years in my little clump of banana trees. This is the first year they've actually laid eggs, however; so, I considered myself very fortunate to be able to see this. Luckily, they chose a leaf close enough to the ground that I could get the snout of my camera (ahem, lens) in there to snap a picture.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bargain Echinopsis or the Home Depot Special!

Red Echinopsis Hybrid. I'm guessing this is another Echinopsis hybrid but again, I'm really not sure what I've got here. Hints are appreciated.

In any case, this totally beautiful little cactus is about four inches tall and blooms in a profuse and amazing sort of way! In the sun, it has a glow and sheen that stand out across a room. I bought it a year or two ago as one of those $2-$3 assorted cacti from Home Depot. It had no name (and still doesn't) but them I'm a plant softy when it comes to those things. In any case, with flowers like that, I'd have to say that I got my money's worth.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Orange Echinopsis

Echinopsis hybrid. The Echinopsis have been blooming their little hearts out. Actually, most of my cactus have. I don't have all that many but you'd sure think I did based on the number of flowers. It's quite a show. Here's an orange one. I'm guessing it's a hybrid but if you recognize it, let me know.

Stinky but Cool...

Bulbophyllum echinolabium. Bulbophyllums are typically pollinated by flies so...their fragrance is a bit stinky. This one just won an Award of Merit at last night's judging. The name means spiny lip.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Epidendrum conopseum

Epidendrum conopseum. These are found from Florida all the way up through the Carolinas and are one of the more cold-tolerant epiphytic orchids available. This is the first bloom on this one. The flower is about the size of a fingernail.

A Gongora a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Gongora flaveola. One good Gongora deserves another! One of the prettier Gongora, named for its bright, daffodil-yellow flowers. These plants probably come from Southern Columbia.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Add a Little Gongora to Your Life

Gongora ilense related species. This one was sold to me as pleichroma. However, as with so many orchid species, it's something else. But what? Gongora pleichroma is a pretty yellow with brown barring which this clearly is not. It is close to Gongora ilense but again, not quite. Hahah! Gongora waywardhawaiiani! A beauty anyhow, named or not.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Encyclia tripunctata

Encyclia tripunctata now Pollardia tripunctata or the Three Spot Pollardia. These are found from around 3500 to 6000 feet in Nayarit, Jaslisco, Guerrero, Mexico, Morelos, and Oaxaca, Mexico. They are distinctive for their almost black column. This one is blooming in the greenhouse right now.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Hot Lips

Laelia purpurata 'Gnomos' x self. These orchids are native to Brazil and are fairly draught and cold tolerant. They like a lot of sun as well. This one has a wonderfully bright lip with an incredible yellow interior. Wow, pretty....

Monday, June 08, 2009

Fly By

P-51 Mustang formation, El Cajon, California. This small formation of WWII P-51 Mustangs (a guess on my part) was flying over El Cajon the other day. BY the time I dug my camera out they had gotten pretty far but it was all in fun.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Deer in the Headlights

White tailed deer (fawn), Julian, California. Last time we saw the deer congregating in the fields outside of Julian. Well, it looks like they've been busy and Spring brought a crop of youngsters. This fawn and his mother were in the middle of the road; hence, the bit of dash in the photo. Mom proptly leaped off to the side of the road but junior here was pretty confused about what to do with the big metal and glass animal staring him down. Luckily, we saw them in time and were able to stop and snap a quick picture. He was still in the middle of the road when we drove around him. Hey, if cats can have 9 lives, why can't deer?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Great Basin Fence Lizard

Great Basin Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis longipes, Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve, Southern California. This Fence Lizard had the most wonderful blue belly that showed off really well while he did pushups as a territorial warning. Unfortunately, I was fighting with my camera settings which were on auto-everything and focusing on the front edge of the ground squirrel hole. By the time I switched to aperture priority and got back some depth of field, the show was over. I managed to get a few pictures anyhow.

If you look closely, there appears to be some yellow behind the hind legs which is why I decided this is probably a Great Basin Fence Lizard and not a Sagebrush Lizard. Of course, I have been known to be wrong on these things and he is living in a ground squirrel hole rather than out on a rock or fence post... They eat your standard lizard fare of bugs and are prime food for a host of critters including hawks, mammals (coyotes for example) and snakes. This one was nesting in a ground squirrel hole with a female (not shown).

For tomorrow's post, Bambi.

Friday, June 05, 2009

California Kingsnake

California Kingsnake, Lampropeltis getula californiae, Mission Trails, California. This Kingsnake was about 4 ft. long and what a beauty! These versatile snakes eat a whole variety of things including rodents, lizards, snakes, invertebrates (snails, for example), bird eggs, turtle eggs, young birds/turtles and small mammals. Kind of a slithering stomach on the go! They are constrictors and are generally not considered a threat to humans (a.k.a., no venim)and are apparently popular in the pet trade. [If you're into constrictors, there is also a boa native to the area, the Rosy Boa!]

The park ranger had warned us of a large rattlesnake along the road. Little did I guess that I would see a large kingsnake instead! It was slithering across the hiking trail, generally oblivious to the people. Apparently, a Kingsnake will eat a rattler if it can catch one. Pretty cool stuff.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Looks Like Grass but Blooms Like an Orchid!

Sobralia macrantha variety alba or perhaps variety kienastiana. Sobralias look like tall canes of grass. The leaves are vaguely reminiscent of palm leaves, with that plicate accordian-like folding! The flowers, however, are all orchid! They look like a Cattleya and smell every bit as sweet. Sobralia flowers, unfortunately, only last about a day or two. They make up for it by blooming sequentially over up to two weeks, keeping you in flowers even while each flower is evanescent/short lived. This one is blooming in my greenhouse right now. I'm not sure I'll still have a flower tomorrow but it was certainly fun while it lasted.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Looks Like a Bug?

Pleurothallis cordata. Found throughout Colombia, in the coastal ranges of Venezuela and the Andes Mountain Range of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia in wet montane cloud forests at around 1900-9500 ft. The flowers are variable including yellow, solid brown, red-brown, yellow dorsal with brown lip/petals and yellow segments with brown spots. This one is half and half. It grows great in the shade and tolerates nice damp feet. In nature it is found growing terrestrially, epiphytically and lythophytically (i.e., grows just about anywhere if there's enough moisture). I can only imagine that it is pollinated by some beetle along the forest floor that thinks it is the cat's meow...or perhaps a mate! I didn't try smelling it as it admittedly did not look like it would smell particularly nice. Hmmm, what kind of smells are beetles attracted to? [Did you know that water lillies are pollinated by beetles?]

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Restrepia tricoglossa, Central America. These and the related pleurothalids have some of the coolest flowers around with a myriad of shapes,colors and sizes.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Checkered White

Checkered White on mustard flower, Pontia Protodice, Silver Meadows, Santa Rosa Plateau, California. Okay, I gave another shot at identifying butterflies. This is my best guess anyhow.

I was standing in a field of rye grass. You could hear the rustling as the wind gently rippled through the dry, seed-laden stalks. Butterflies of myriad colors would flutter by, landing periodically to gather nectar from the flowers or to rest upon the grass. Peaceful huh?

So imagine me with this big old 500mm lens, just snapping pictures of these butterflies as fast as I could "will them" to land on something! I was having fun. There were a lot of blurry pictures as the wind seemed to sway just about everything. Of course, the wind might be the reason why some of them landed in the first place so there's a silver lining on every cloud.