Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Broomtail Grouper, Mycteroperca xenarcha

Broomtail Grouper, Mycteroperca xenarcha, peeking out of a hole in the rocks.  These normally occur on the Pacific coast of Mexico but occasionally stray up into Northern California.

California King Crab or Spiny King Crab

California King Crab, Paralithodes californiensis, also known as the Spiny King Crab.  Normally, when we think of King Crab, we think of the Red King crab, Paralithodes camtschaticus, a.k.a., Alaskan King Crab, which has the great misfortune of gracing our dinner tables.  However, there at least 121 species across 10 genera in the family Lithodoidea, in which the King Crab belongs.  There is asymmetry in the King Crab's abdomen that leads to conjecture that the king crabs originated from hermit crab-like ancestors who had asymmetrical abdomens used to wrap themselves into seashells.  Ironic that such a huge, magnificent creature could have common origins with the considerably smaller, soft-bellied, hermit crab.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dragon Seamoth

Dragon Seamoth, Eurypegasus draconis. These little fish are found in Indo-Pacific coastal waters and specialize in using their long, tube-like mouth to suck small worms, invertebrates and crustaceans out of their burrows in the sand/mud.  They use their broad pectoral fins and stiff ventral fins like feet, "walking" on them as shuffle across the sand looking for food.  These little fish make long term, monogamous bonds with their mates. This species is listed as threatened in the wild.

Hummingbirds at the Feeder

Here's a short video of the hummingbird feeder in back of the house.  Those are Allen's (reddish-brown and green) and Anna's (red throat, green body) hummingbirds.  You can hear them tweeting at each other as they jockey for a perch.  Meanwhile, I'm off to re-fill the feeder.  They've been emptying it out daily!

Normally, I just have Anna's hummingbirds, typically with one really aggressive one guarding the feeder and chasing the rest away.  This is the first year that I have seen the Allen's Hummingbirds in such numbers and would really enjoy it if they would stay in the area.  They are native to the coastal chaparral and I suspect that the huge fires in Southern California (a bit East and North of us) and the longstanding drought may be one reason for them being at my feeder in such numbers.  I may have to run to the nursery to find some flowers for them so that they get a little natural food as well.

Allen's Hummingbird in Flight

Allen's Hummingbird, Selasphorus sasin, in flight, chasing the other birds away from the feeder.

Summer is the time for Encyclia blossoms! Encyclia Renate Schmidt 'Feuerbach' HCC/AOS

Encyclia Renate Schmidt 'Feuerbach' HCC/AOS.  Most of my Encyclia species and hybrids blossom in the Summer with huge sprays of flowers in chocolate, pink and yellow, often with fruity or spicy fragrances.  These flowers often last several weeks and really brighten up the greenhouse.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Spathoglottis pubescens

Spathoglottis pubescens, a native of Thailand, Burma,India and Southern China.  This is a terrestrial orchid that sends up lovely spikes of yellow flowers from underground pseudobulbs.  It will grow into nice clumps and puts on a nice display of flowers.

Mallard Mom and Three Little Ducklings Out for a Stroll

Mallard Mom and Three Little Ducklings Out for a Stroll

Friday, July 25, 2014

Neighborly discussions...

Okay, so we have a neighborhood bulletin board.  Some of the neighbors get a little carried away sometimes but then that's just my opinion.  I've removed the names as this is not about pointing fingers but rather to encourage a little compassion in the hood.

1st Neighbor:
There are 2 women walking down XXX ave towards YYY picking items out of the trash and recycle bins. Asian

[Author's sidebar comment: yes, that really rubbed me the wrong way but it required a little thought to understand why...]

2nd Neighbor posted:
We're relatively new to the neighborhood and are disturbed by the racially related posts on this site. "Black man on bicycle" "Asians in the trash" etc. In your attempt to look out for neighbors please pay attention to how your own fear/prejudices/stereotypes are driving your notifications of "danger."

My response:
When I hear posts about Asians or Blacks or Mexicans, etc., sometimes I wonder whether the poster would similarly freak out when I walk by with my dog (and yes, he is a very cute dog...). If someone really is committing a crime, fine, report every last detail. If someone is just innocently passing by, please leave them in peace. Of course, I realize there has been some crime and it is hard to figure out is what is the line between reasonable caution and undue paranoia... So I gave some thought about why some of the posts seem so offensive, even if the poster is just trying to help.

How about this...if someone really is acting suspicious, state why in detail and describe them in detail. Black man on bike sounds racist, if only because all you noticed or bothered to post was the color of their skin and the bike. That's a little offensive. Now, if you said, there is an African American/Irish red head/Asian/whatever, male/female, approximately 35 years of age, 5' 10", dressed in a black hoodie and cutoff jeans, with red sneakers that has circled my street three times in the last hour and is checking to see if windows are locked and ringing doorbells randomly, by all means, be my guest! If they're being suspicious, I want all the details including what behavior makes you believe that they are acting suspiciously (and hopefully it is not just the color of their skin..).

However, if they're just passing by or, heaven forbid, if they are so poor and hungry that they need to dig in trash cans for aluminum cans rather than beg at the corner to keep a shred of dignity, I'd just as soon not hear about it. Yes, some people would rather dig in YOUR TRASH rather than BEG. Is that so bad? Okay, it's a bit annoying...but no worse than the profuse beggars adorning seemingly every stop light (and I have yet to see an Asian on one of those street corners...although there's probably one somewhere...). And yes, I have been known to buy food for a beggar or two on occasion... But for the grace of God, that person begging or digging for cans could have been me...or YOU or any of us. Be kind. Don't judge. Help out your friends, family and neighbors.

Remember, the more of your neighbors that you know well and care about, particularly those that live close to you, and the more that you help watch out for them, their pets, their packages, their houses, etc., the less crime and the safer it will be. Remember, it may be your neighbor that comes to check and calls the ambulance when you really need it or your neighbor that douses the ember that blows in from a fire that might otherwise torch your house.

[So what do you think?  Did I get a little carried away?]

Allen's Hummingbird, Selasphorus sasin, female, in flight

Allen's Hummingbird, Selasphorus sasin, female, in flight.  Another shot of the female Allen's Hummingbird, this one taken in flight.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

San Diego Pride Parade 2014

The  SDSU Aztecs were there and showing some spirit!
A lot of people brought their dogs, man & woman's best friend.
 There were all sorts of brightly colored hats and costumes for sale.
Even the hula hoopers came out to enjoy the festivities!

Allen's Hummingbird, Selasphorus sasin (female)

Allen's Hummingbird (female), Selasphorus sasin.  These breed throughout coastal California in a general scrub habitat and Winter in Western Mexico.  They are small but energetic, feisty hummingbirds.  The female lacks the bright scarlet gorget, has a white-spotted chin and chest with a bright red spot in the center of the chin.  There are a lot of hummingbirds at the feeder this year, often six or more sitting at the feeder at any given time.  It could be due to the severe drought and the lack of wildflowers in the coastal scrub habitat.  While I feel bad for the little guys, I certainly enjoy their company.  Perhaps we'll go out to the nursery and buy some hummingbird-friendly, flowering shrubs.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pride Pug

This little pug is all decked out for the San Diego Pride Parade.  The parade was larger, grander and more mainstream than ever.  Happy Pride.

Allen's Hummingbird (male), Selasphorus sasin

Allen's Hummingbird (male) in the backyard. They're a little shy compared to the Anna's. I've been trying to get a decent picture for a while but they typically move before I can auto-focus the lens.. They pass through San Diego on their migration down to and back up from Mexico.  This Summer, I have a little family of them in the back yard.  There is also a year round colony of them in the Channel Islands, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.  It could be, with all the feeders in San Diego, that some of them decided to stay here as well.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Stanhopea inodora 'Pt Loma' HCC AOS

Stanhopea inodora 'Pt Loma' HCC AOS blooming outdoors under shade cloth.  These are native to Mexico, Belize and Nicaragua where they grow at around 2000-5000 ft.  They like water and, if happy, quickly grow into specimen plants.

Brassavola tuberculata

Brassavola tuberculata blooming in the greenhouse.  These charming little orchids put out sprays of 8 or 10 flowers at a time and hail from Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia.  They can be stubborn bloomers until the plant gets reasonably large.

Hibiscus Georgia's Pearl

Hibiscus Georgia's Pearl.  Found this little beauty in bloom yesterday!  I bought two hybrid Hibiscus in a little bout of missing Hawaii...  I haven't decided yest if I will leave it in pot or if I will plant it outside and risk the Winter temperatures.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Epidendrum pseudepidendrum variety flavum

Epidendrum pseudepidendrum variety flavum.  This lovely orchid has been blooming for about a month!  This species is native to Costa Rica and Panama where it grows quite tall.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Stanhopea embreei

Stanhopea embreei, a lovely Stanhopea species from western Ecuador and Peru where it grows in Andean cloud forests.  This particular clone, however, is missing the eye spot on the lip (for you Stanhopea afficionados) which was initially misleading.  I bought it years ago as a seedling of Stanhopea wardii x self from Carter and Holmes Orchids (a wonderful nursery with a wide variety of orchids at reasonable prices).  After some discussion in the orchid groups on Facebook, the consensus is embreei, both because of the lip & column shape and also because my other embreei is also blooming right now.

Encyclia adenocaula 'Queen of Angels' HCC/AOS

Encyclia adenocaula 'Queen of Angels' HCC/AOS.  This is an albino clone of this normally light lavender Mexican species.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Pacific Tree Frog

Pacific Tree Frog, Pseudacris regilla, hanging out on an orchid leaf.  These little singing frogs are found on the West coast of the United States and Canada.

Paphiopedilum haynaldianum alba

Paphiopedilum haynaldianum alba blooming in the greenhouse.  This is a rare alba form of the normally pink, brown, lavender and polka-dotted species from the Philippines.

Hoya pubicalyx

Hoya pubicalyx blooming in the back yard.  The leaves turn reddish in the sun with little silver flecks like a small dusting of glitter.  This species is an easy grower and makes a wonderful display when in bloom.  This one is a division from my friend Renate (I call it Renate Red!).

Cattleya leopoldii

Cattleya leopoldii (also known and Cattleya tigrina), a native of Southern Brazilian coastal forests.  This is a large, warm growing, bifoliate Cattleya with wonderful, waxy, fragrant flowers.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Fourth of July!  Shown: fireworks above Carmel Valley, California.

Thistle with Tiny Beetle Pollinators

Thistle with beetle pollinators at Big Bear Lake, California.  The beetles are as much fun as the thistle!

Dandelion in Seed

Super large Dandelion, or something in the general family, in seed at Big Bear Lake, California.  These are particularly captivating in the late afternoon sun.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Encyclia alboxanthina

Encyclia alboxanthina is one of my favorite Encyclia species, with long branching spikes of fragrant green, yellow and white flowers.  This species is found in Bahia, Brazil and is not seen in cultivation very often, probably because it gets quite large.

Encyclia Cashen's Chocolate Rose 'Smokey' AM/AOS

Encyclia Cashen's Chocolate Rose 'Smokey' AM/AOS.  Summer is Encyclia blooming season and the greenhouse is awash in colorful sprays of fragrant, Encyclia blossoms.  These guys like a lot of sun, moderate water and want to dry out between waterings.  This beauty is a hybrid of Encyclia cordigera and Encyclia Orchid Jungle, which is a primary between Encyclia alata and Encyclia phoenecia.