Friday, February 12, 2010

OC...Planting?!



I've always been a birder--well, at least for a significant portion of my life. However, I have only begun down the road of being a naturalist the last few years. As a beginning birder, birds were all that mattered; I studied them fiercely, ignoring just about everything else. I looked in admiration at those who could name every plant, insect, or mammal that crossed their path, but my focus remained on birds. Then, I started to learn about butterflies...then dragonflies...and now plants and trees. I still fall well short of being an all-around naturalist--I only dabble in areas other than birds, and I am nearly ignorant in entire fields, including fish, reptiles, and amphibians. However, I'm learning. Slowly, but surely. With all the rain we've had recently, wildflowers have begun springing up in the few areas that haven't been ruined (i.e., "improved," which means paved over.) I've resolved to photograph and try to put names on them. The flower at the top of this post is Bermuda-Buttercup (Oxalis pes-caprae.) Native to Africa, my plant guide calls it "a ubiquitous and pesky weed." Still beautiful.



A very common and familiar (and native!) wildflower is Blue Dicks Dichelostemma capitatum. I found many blooming while tromping around the UCI preserve in Irvine with AlfGrimm.



I bet you don't consider cacti wildflowers. Well, they do flower--and do so beautifully. This prickly-pear (exact species uncertain...I'll have to do more research) was also in the UCI preserve.



Not all wildflowers are large and showy; indeed, some are easy to miss! Such is it with the Common Chickweed (Stellaria media), another of those obnoxious nonnative species. The flowers are so small that I didn't even notice them until I crouched down to photograph a flock of juncos! Once I had spotted them, however, I found them everywhere.



Lest you fear I've lost all interest in birds, here are a few shots of birds from Irvine Regional Park yesterday. Black Phoebes, ever common, but ever fun to watch...



Red-shouldered Hawks, always loud, and winging by in a flash of black, white, and rufous...



If you know where to look and are very observant, you might run into a roosting Barn Owl at Irvine Regional Park...



Red-breasted Sapsuckers, initially elusive, but then wonderfully easy to find once you learn where to look...



And Common Ravens, abundant and hard to miss, but always entertaining to observe. If I were doomed to watch only one kind of bird the rest of my life, I would choose Common Ravens. They are so intelligent and playful! Several days ago, I was watching one soaring overhead when it suddenly stalled and began spiraling to the ground in tight circles, croaking gleefully the entire time. Then in resumed soaring around...apparently the flight antics had been purely for fun.

3 comments:

doug said...

Neil, with your extraordinary capabilities as a birdwatcher, you will become quite a keen naturalist. So pleased and excited to see that someone of your talent and ambition taking a serious interest in all aspects of the natural world. I'll be posting on mushrooms (again) some time in the next week; feel free to stop on by if you'd like to expand your repertoire to include those as well! :-) I say this in the hopes and expectations that you'll probably be schooling me on them in a matter of years! http://orangecountynaturalist.blogspot.com

Corey Husic said...

Nice photos, love the wildflowers.

Allen Chartier said...

Neil,

Thanks for posting some of the flowers in your area! Nancy and I had a great trip along the west coast in May/June (1985) with tons of flowers. I had lots of favorites on that trip, but among the best were the Tiburon Mariposa Tulip (bizarre) near San Francisco and Harlequin Lupine (colorful) near Yosemite. Check out my blog in a week or so, as I've gathered up some Michigan wildflower photos to help local readers get over their cabin fever...something I'm sure you never experience any more :-)