Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Creepy Crawly Wolfy Spider...

Spider cruising along an Agave attenuata leaf in my back yard. I'm tempted to say it's some sort of wolf spider but after peaking at a few pages of spider pictures on Google, I'm punting and going to bed. This one's pretty tiny, maybe half an inch in length.

Blow Your Trumpet

Large Trumpet fish, Aulostomus chinensis, gliding eerily over the reef hunting for prey. This Trumpet fish was around 3 ft. long. They are suction feeders kind of like a seahorse or a pipefish, creating a vacuum through the rapid opening of their mouth that will suck in unsuspecting fish or crustaceans. The long snout is likely for getting into crevices where shrimp, crabs and small fish would otherwise hide.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Caterpillar from the White-lined Sphinx Moth, Hyles lineata, Anza Borrego Desert. It's amazing how similar their little feet are to hands and it holds the stem in its mouth to chew on it. I also like the lazy O it makes with the stems in the background.

Click here to find out more about the White-lined Sphinx Moth.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Just Paddling Along

Green Sea Turtle, Haleiwa, Hawaii. This green sea turtle was paddling along under the old Haleiwa bridge (hence the photo angle), not minding the canoe that was paddling up and down the river.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

San Diego County Orchid Society Show

Epidendrum Hybrid, San Diego County Orchid Society Show, Scottish Rites Center, San Diego, California. The San Diego County Orchid Society's annual show is on through Sunday with lots of really cool plants to see and even more for sale.

Ground Pink

Limnanthus dianthiflorus, Ground Pink, Santa Rosa Plateau. Wow. Thousands of flowers covering the hills. It's been a banner year for wildflowers.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fragrant in Numbers

Dendrobium speciosum variety hillii, San Diego County Orchid Society Show. Gorgeous swarms of flowers with a powerful, perfume-like fragrance. These rather robust orchids will grow outside in San Diego but call Australia their home.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pom pom

Robiqueta pantherina, San Marino Orchid Show. Orchids are the most diverse plant family in the world! This one is certainly not one you'll find in Vons! These originate from the Philippines where they grow at near sea level (200 ft) in hot, humid conditions.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Groovy Cactus!

Echinofossulocactus lloydii (Syn: Stenocactus multicostataus) blooming on the back deck. I love the grooves in Stenocactus and the flat spines. They're even prettier when they are blooming!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Beavertail Cactus Flower (Opuntia) with yellow and black beetle. Found this Beavertail cactus blooming way back in Coyote Canyon in the Borrego Desert. The Beetle found it too!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Springtime in the Desert

Desert Lily, Hesperocallis undulata, Coyote Canyon, Borrego Desert, California.

There are few things quite as amazing as the incredible burst of life and color in Spring in the Desert. Plants pop out of the sand, seemingly out of nowhere. Butterflies, bees, lizards, caterpillars seemingly everywhere. There is an absolute explosion of life once the rains come down.

Pictured is a large Desert Lily. Most years, they are a little shorter and have perhaps 3 or 4 flowers. As you can see, this Desert Lilly is quite large with 12 flowers in various states of bloom, decay, and bud. The extra growth is at least partly complements of a banner year for rain due to El Nino weather patterns.

The Spanish called the desert lilies Ajo lillies (because they taste like Garlic!). The early Native Americans dug them up for food. The bulbs, however, are way down deep, far from the dessicating desert heat and come up to leaf and bloom in response to the Winter rains and Spring warmth.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Yes, It Snows in California!

Santa Rosa Plateau. Nice view of the snow-capped mountains from the Santa Rosa Plateau. It makes for quite a contrast of climates from the semi-arid, grassy, cactus-laden plateau with ancient, gnarled oaks to the snowy peaks of nearby mountain tops.

Friday, March 19, 2010


European Fire-Bellied Toads (Bombina bombina) being social. Do you suppose they want to take the same path out or is it something else?

These little toads are a tad toxic and flash their orange bellies to predators to warn them off!

EFBT tadpoles eat mainly algae and plants but the grown toads will eat crickets, miscellaneous insects, minnows and even small mice (i.e., they are not picky eaters).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Drowned in Pollen

Ant Drowned in Poppy Pollen. A bee's thrill is this ant's nightmare... Trapped by steep, slippery sides and rolling in pollen, this ant is much worse for the wear.

Hypothesis: Poppies appear to be bee-pollinated based on what I've seen so far. Steep, slippery petals would keep out marauding ants while the pollen is fresh and/or until the bees have managed to pollinate the flower.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wild Peonies in Southern California!

Wild Peony, also called California Peony and Western Peony, Paeonia californica, Santa Rosa Plateau. I had no idea we had wild peonies in Souther California but one look was enough to know that I was looking at a peony (so I snapped a few shots).

While not as stunningly beautiful as its hybrid cousins, the wild peony has been put to use by the native tribes. The powered root has been used for colds and sore throats as well as upset stomachs, stress, depression, and menstrual pain. Others say it causes nausea so, personally, I'll not be eating any of it. Still, it is fascinating that peonies can survive in the arid California landscape. They apparently grow and bloom in Winter and Spring and then go dormant over the summer to avoid the dry season.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring Flowers

California Poppies and Lupine blooming alongside Highway 15 in Southern California. The fields and slopes are awash in Spring color and it is just amazing!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Handsome Mug

Osprey, Mission River. Now is that a handsome mug or what? Just hamming for the camera while he/she? waits for the next fish to swim by (Ospreys eat fish...).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Faster than a Speeding Bullet...

Cardinal jumping off of a branch! Kind of a fun picture. She jumped just as I snapped the picture.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Great Egret Doing O's

Great Egret, Mission River Preserve. A Great Egret flying low over the water making lazy O's with his reflection.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Turtles Napping

Green Sea Turtles, Haleiwa, Oahu, Hawaii. These two Green Sea Turtles were napping on the beach in Haleiwa. Now that they are protected, Green Sea Turtles have come roaring back and are actually reasonably common to see swimming in the shallows at the beaches.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lichen on Lava with Guest

Lichen on Lava with Guest, Makapu, Hawaii. For you lovers of the odd and the arcane, here's fun photo for you that I shot in Hawaii. Each little lichen is about the size of a pin head.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Busted So Bad!

The Darling Dog has been at it again! He jumps from the floor to the chair to the table to the glass stove top, squeeks around the dish rack without falling, goes through two sinks and over the the counter under the microwave, taking out the trusty scrub sponge in the process. He is shown here with the last bit of the scrub sponge, having hid it for later retrieval. Sneaky thing...

Monday, March 08, 2010

Hot Pink

Cymbidium Plum Passion 'Etsuko', Torrance Orchid Show. It's the season for orchid shows. There were lots of huge, well grown Cymbidiums at the Torrance Orchid Show. This one was a bright pink that jumps out and grabs you.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Dendrobium speciosum

Dendrobium speciosum var. curvicaule 'Bee Creek' X Dendrobium speciosum var. grandiflorum 'Kroombit Gold'. This is blooming in my living room right now.

If you know Dendrobium speciosum, you know that they get really large (a.k.a. washing machine large) and put up an amazing display of white to yellow flowers that are uber-fragrant. Simply amazing. This species originally hails from southeastern Queensland Australia where it grows both as an epiphyte on trees in rainforests or as a lithophyte on rocks at elevations of 300 to 1800 feet. Notably, both of the parent varieties have been moved to specific status by some taxonomists. They would, in some circles, be referred to as Den. curvicaule and Den. rex, respectively.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Best in Show!

Dendrobium Nagasaki [=Den. moniliforme x Den. Sagimusume], Torrance Orchid Show. This won best in show at the Torrance Orchid Show. It also won an HCC/AOS (highly commendable certificate) and an award of cultural excellence.

Friday, March 05, 2010


Amphiprion percula, a.k.a. Clownfish. Nice dark color varieties are being line bred instead of wild caught.

Apparently, Amphiprion percula larvae are drawn to specific anemones, Heteractis magnifica and Stichodactyla gigantea, through chemical cues released from the anemones which will act as protection for the fish as the fish acts to feed and clean the anemone. Cool huh?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Twisty, Curvy Fun

Mormodes hyb. Yes, these are orchids. They come from South and Central America and come in all sorts of lurid colors, stripes and spots.

Banded Pipefish

Banded Pipefish, Doryrhamphus dactyliophorus. These little guys live on live copepods and can be finicky eaters in the aquarium. However, they are otherwise unassuming and will breed regularly.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Packed Like Sardines in a Can

School of Sardines, San Diego, California. Note that the name Sardine is actually a common name that applies to a rather large number of smallish schooling fish including the:
Rainbow sardine - Dussumieria acuta
Slender rainbow sardine - Dussumieria elopsoides
Slender white sardine - Escualosa elongata
White sardine - Escualosa thoracata
European pilchard (true sardine) Sardina pilchardus
Round sardinella (gilt sardine, Spanish sardine) Sardinella aurita Sardinella longiceps, Sardinella gibbosa (Indian sardines)
South American pilchard (Pacific sardine, California sardine, Chilean sardine, South African sardine) Sardinops sagax (Jenyns, 1842)
Dare I say I haven't bother to ID which one this is...

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Duck Tails

Northern Pintail, Anas acuta. The Northern Pintails come South, some to San Diego, to Winter in warmer climates. Some ducks/geese dive for food (e.g., Scoters and Ruddy Ducks), some dip their heads into the water (Brant)...Pintails go bottoms up (okole maluna!) while they browse for water plants, seeds, snails and crustaceans in the muddy bottom. It's pretty fun to watch. Clearly not worried about being eaten...

Monday, March 01, 2010

Colored Dragons

Bearded Dragon, colored hybrids. Another beautiful line-bred bearded dragon! This one's on sale at Reptile World of San Diego. He could be yours if you hurry!