September 14, 2021

flower crab spiders

I was on a bit of vacationing way out (well, it's a long day's drive) in Utah at the edge of the Kolob Canyons when I noticed the oddest thing. It was not the position of the pollinator in front of a flower that got my attention, but the way it just sort of hung there connected to nothing and absolutely still. Physics was not being obeyed. I looked closer, and there was this ghostly apparition. White mandibles gripped the bee, holding it in place. They were attached to a white spider that faded nearly entirely into the faintly lavender flower. Just like a watering hole, flowers are dangerous. At least they are in Utah. (First observation.)

I didn't notice the next spider, but it's there, and it was much closer to home. Tucked underneath a gumplant of some sort on Nicholas Flat.

I did notice the next. It didn't even have prey as it hid under a blue dick on the Ventura River Preserve.

It was the next two, shortly after on my way back down from Redrock Mountain that really grabbed my attention. They were also tucked under blue dicks and they both had themselves some prey. (The first and the second.)

They keep popping up, although I have yet to see one on a goldenrod as it is said to commonly occupy and most of them have been white. This one waiting in an azalea is particularly menacing. And this pair is particularly interesting. It says they can change color to yellow (or to white) in about a week if they find themselves on the wrong color flower.

Posted on September 14, 2021 02:58 AM by valhikes valhikes | 10 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 20, 2021

old photos

I've been zooming backwards through the old geotagged photos (and one set that wasn't, so far) anticipating getting to something. I was excited about the Brown's peony I found in Nevada before. Now I've got them up, I'm looking forward to some chocolate lilies that were up on Figueroa Mountain.

I've attached a couple others I was quite taken with at the time, too. I knew I must photograph the heartleaf twistflower when I saw it, although it was quite a challenge. I found the woolen breeches extraordinarily cute with their flowers sheltered so far under the leaves. It was a startlingly cold day with a colder wind blowing (and plenty of snow coming, it turned out-in the middle of May) so such an odd thing just made sense. Red tailed hawk just managed to hit the sun just right.

Oh, and attached a couple California peonies for comparison to the Brown's.

Posted on August 20, 2021 04:35 PM by valhikes valhikes | 7 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 23, 2021

looking for monotropes

Back on June 9th, while hiking the Rhododendron Trail and CREA Trail, I spotted a couple of plants that could, if one stretched one's imagination enough, be the starts of some snow plant. It's not always perfectly red, after all. I also found these curious apparent tangles of white roots all over the place. I was excited to get home and find out what they were. That the two sprouts were in fact relatives of Sarcodes sanguinea was not so surprising, but that the strange tangles were too was. I had found Pleuricospora fimbriolata, Hemitomes congestum, and Monotropa uniflora.

I returned about three weeks later to hike the Rhododendron Trail and CREA Trails again, but in the opposite direction, to see what these might have sprouted into. Unfortunately, I arrogantly supposed I would remember the exact location of the two sprouts and I did not see them again. The Monotropa uniflora was still all over, but most had not got very far along. I was able to see a few very fresh flowers.

So I tried again, this time prepared with locations, to see these blooms. Since I have a bit of a hang up about hiking the same trail too often, I was happy to find locations for these plants on other trails. Hope Creek looked particularly strong as a candidate for spotting some blooms, so I started with a hike around the Ten Taypo and Hope Creek loop. I found the Pleuricospoa fimbriolata I was looking for and Pityopus californicus for a bonus. I still had one left.

I wasn't sure where to go from there, but tried hiking a loop including the south end of the West Ridge. There I found a blooming Hemitomes congestum to finish the set that was my goal.

Victory all around! Although there is one more that grows in the area that I've not spotted. Monotropa hypopitys... but I'm feeling pretty good about what I did find. I'd still like to see them at later stages. As I have, at times, been an avid geocacher, I liken preparing and searching like this to geocaching for plants. As expected, the coordinates are often pretty bad. Worse than they claim, even. (Mine are pretty bad too. I'm matching up a track to the photographs and the correct time offset seems to float around a little.) However, these observations made from trails are all visible from the trail. I didn't get hung up on the exact locations, so didn't go stomping into the forest all over. Coordinates are close enough that if someone is wanting to be out there and looking, they'll find it. There's no fast grab the picture and go around here, though.

Posted on July 23, 2021 04:20 PM by valhikes valhikes | 9 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 18, 2020

getting a start

[Mostly written Apr 26] Friday I headed out hiking with at least a little thought to documenting the foliage around me for this. I hadn't actually signed up yet, but that isn't necessary to do before taking photos.. I hiked the South Fork Trail on the Trinity River, which is a new area for me. Almost had it entirely to myself Of course, most that got documented was flowers. It is spring; my nose told me so. There were some amazing flowers. I also got some new growth of tanoak and madrone and even a gall on a gooseberry. Now I get to see what all these plants are. There's one that looks like some sort of geranium that I'm particularly interested in and I really loved the tiny, furry Mariposa lilies. Who doesn't love Mariposa lilies, especially the furry ones?

My blog post for the hike can be found here: Moments in Dirt and Ink.

Posted on June 18, 2020 02:18 PM by valhikes valhikes | 10 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment