Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Fall/Winter Birds are Back

The migrants are showing up early and in good numbers this year. Earlier this month, the Yellow-rumped warblers, Western Bluebirds, White-crowned Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos made their first appearance here on our property. Just yesterday there were even a couple of Pine Siskins hanging out with the Lesser Goldfinches, imbibing on the niger seeds in the finch sock. 

10/30/10 Pine Siskin (Carduelis pinus).

10/30/10 Pine Siskin (Carduelis pinus) lower left; Lesser Goldfinches above (Carduelis psaltria). The Siskin is heavily streaked, whereas the Goldfinches are not - but looks aside, they do flock together.

10/29/10 White Crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys).

10/24/10 First winter White Crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys), with the tell-tale chestnut & gray crown stripes (vs. white & black on the adults).

10/24/10 Dark-Eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis).

10/24/10 California Towhee (Pipilo crissalis).

10/29/10 Western Bluebirds (Sialia mexicana).

10/31/10 California Quail (Callipepla californica).

10/24/10 Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata). 

10/31/10 Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte anna) with the rose-red throat & crown, hanging out with Black-Chinned Hummingbirds (Archilochus alexandri).

And I have to end this post with these sunrise shots taken early Friday morning (6:45am Oct. 29th) from outside the kitchen door. Makes getting up at the crack of dawn worth the while. 



Friday, October 29, 2010

Treks on the Santa Rosa Plateau: A Wet October

We're supposed to be in a La Nina weather pattern this season, portending cool but dry conditions. A week ago, however, a slow-moving and very atypical storm system muddled through Southern California from about October 18th through the 22nd, dropping over 2 inches of rain in our area. I can't remember the last time we had measurable rain in October. I am so over the veracity of meteorology.

Anyhoo, last Sunday, we ventured out to the Plateau for a short hike on the Vernal Pool trail. What a gorgeous Goldilocks fall day - neither too hot nor too cold. The recent rain bender seemed to have triggered some premature greening along the trail. 

10/24/10 Dried seedheads of Splendid Mariposa Lilies (Calochortus splendens). Vernal Pool Trail.

10/24/10 Long-Stemmed Buckwheat (Eriogonum elongatum var. elongatum). Vernal Pool Trail.

10/24/10 California Aster (Corethrogyne filaginifolia). 

10/24/10 Unseasonal greening along the Vernal Pool Trail. May not last if the rain peters out this winter.

10/24/10 Vernal Pool Trail.

10/24/10 Vernal Pool Trail.

10/24/10 Vernal Pool Trail.

10/24/10 Slender Tarweed (Hemizonia fasciculata), still blooming along the Vernal Pool Trail.

10/24/10 Vernal Pool Trail.

10/24/10 Vernal Pool Trail.

10/24/10 Gil on the Vernal Pool Trail.

10/24/10 Main vernal pool.

10/24/10 Main vernal pool. 

10/24/10 Main vernal pool.

10/24/10 Main vernal pool.

10/24/10 Some really past-their-prime San Diego Button Celery (Eryngium aristulatum var. parishii). 

10/24/10 Main vernal pool.

10/24/10 Main vernal pool.

10/24/10 Remnants of Alkali Mallow (Malvella leprosa) at the center of the boardwalk. Main vernal pool.

10/24/10 Main vernal pool.

10/24/10 Debris on rock in the main vernal pool.

10/24/10 Alkali Mallow (Malvella leprosa). Main vernal pool.

10/24/10 Cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium). Main vernal pool.

10/24/10 Slender Tarweed (Hemizonia fasciculata). Vernal Pool Trail. 

10/24/10 Acorns on Engelmann Oak (Quercus engelmannii). Vernal Pool Trail.

10/24/10 Acorns on Engelmann Oak (Quercus engelmannii). Vernal Pool Trail.

10/24/10 Engelmann Oak (Quercus engelmannii). Vernal Pool Trail.

10/24/10 Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum). Vernal Pool Trail. A deciduous shrub/vine that's common below 5,000 ft. throughout Southern California. Leaves are turning a beautiful red hue before shedding. You don't want to accidentally touch or fall into this one. Nasty. 

10/24/10 Tarantula (Aphonopelmus reversum). My favorite arachnid. Vernal Pool Trail.

10/24/10 Unidentified Moth. Vernal Pool Trail.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

UCR Botanic Gardens Fall Plant Sale

Well, it's that time of year again - the Cal native plant sales kick off in the fall, and the UC Riverside Botanic Gardens is usually my first stop. This is the largest plant sale event in the Inland Empire. 

From their website :

"A typical sale finds nearly 10,000 plants and more than 400 kinds available. All types of plants are to be had, from a huge array of cacti and rare succulents to hard-to-find water and waterside plants and unusual patio and houseplants to colorful landscape trees. The emphasis is on water efficient plants from around the world, but a variety of shade and water tolerant selections are always available. A fine range of choice California native plants are available at both sales, though more are sold for the fall planting season. Only varieties that can be planted at the time of the sale are sold. Miniature roses, hundreds of herbs, orchids and wildlflower seeds round out the choices."


We got there this morning around 9:30am for the member's preview sale and picked up the following:

'Brightest Brilliant Rainbow" Quinoa (Chenopodia quinoa)
Boojum Tree (Fouquieria columnaris)
'Stripey' Rockrose (Cistus x argenteus)
'Fantasy' Grape (Vitis 'Fantasy')
Blue Texas Ranger ((Leucophyllum zygophyllum)
'Magenta Hope' Autumn Sage (Salvia x jamensis)
Yellow Rockrose (Halymium calycinum)

Hollyleaf Cherry (Prunus ilicifolia)
Blue Palo Verde (Cercidium floridum)
Watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum)
'Louis Hamilton' Desert Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)
Desert Ironwood (Olneya tesota)
Chaparral Coffeeberry (Rhamnus tomentella ssp. tomentella)
Mexican Elderberry (Sambucus mexicana)
Yerba Mansa (Anemopsis californica)
'Evie' Coast Silk Tassel (Garrya elliptica)
'Dark Lake County Strain' Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis)
Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa var. torreyana)

And our cool, breezy fall weather made for pleasant planting today. Everything got put in the ground except for the Watercress and Yerba Mansa, which are in the pond, and the Boojum Tree, which I planted in a clay pot with gravel/sand/cactus mix. 

Next stop in November: the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden annual Fall plant sale. Yes! 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Love the Rain, even though it's just a drizzle right now...

Fall in Southern California is a tricky proposition. Some years, we have a full-on manifestation of "Indian Summer" accompanied by itinerant Santa Ana winds, and other years it's just a guessing game. Well, this year's been a guessing game. From an unseasonably cool summer, to a couple days of record-breaking fall heat, back to cool, drizzly weather. And by all predictions, we're supposed to be in a La Nina pattern this year (i.e., cool but dry). 

It's been foggy and damp the past two days and the forecast is for more precipitation through next Thursday. 

I can't remember ever breaking out a log until November-December, but, alas, we were cold enough today to flame a Duraflame today:

10/17/10 First log of the season.

10/17/10 Foggy all day.

10/17/10 Love the unseasonal misty rain here in SoCal. Are we in Ireland yet?

And the late season blooms never cease to amaze me:

10/17/10 Bush California Fuchsia (Zauschneria latifolia var. johnstonii). 

10/17/10 Seed pods of Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis). Just goes to show that beauty is not just in the blooms.

10/17/10 Raindrops on leaves of Desert Columbine (Aquilegia shockleyi).

10/17/10 Wolfberry/Baja Desert Thorn (Lycium brevipes). This one went drought deciduous last month but perked up with the recent precipitation.

10/17/10 Clockwise, left to right: 'Route 66' California Fuchsia (Zauschneria californica), Showy Penstemon (Penstemon spectabilis)-not in bloom, Rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus), Konocti Manzanita (Arctostaphylos manzanita ssp. elegans). 

10/17/10 Another view of the vivid yellow blooms of Rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus) to the right. Left is Showy Penstemon (Penstemon spectabilis) and the dried, rusty inflorescences of St. Catherine's Lace (Eriogonum giganteum). 

10/17/10 'Sunset' Monkeyflower.

10/17/10 Fruits/hips of 'First Dawn,' California wild rose selection (Rosa californica). I dry these in the oven on low (200F) heat and then store them in jars. Chock full of Vitamin C and great for tea. 

10/17/10 Mexican Marigold (Tagetes lemmonii compactum). Not everyone loves the smell of this fall-flowering marigold, but I sure do. It's like the scent of marigold mixed with lemon & a hint of mint. Yum! This is a shorter version of Tagetes lemmonii (native to S. Arizona). It's supposedly not palatable to wabbits, but sadly not in my neck of the woods (damned bionic La Cresta bunnies), so I have to keep this one ensconced in chicken wire.

10/17/10 Common Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) in full fruit under our adolescent redwood tree. The berries look dewey fresh with our rainy weather today.

10/17/10 Meadow Rue (Thalictrum fendleri v. polycarpum). Coming back to life with more H2o and cooler temps.

10/17/10 Turpentine Brush (Haplopappus laricifolia 'Aguirre'). 

10/17/10 California Fuchsias (left to right: UC Hybrid, Ghostly Red) are still blooming. 

10/17/10 Left to right: 'Ian Bush' Manzanita, Jeffrey Pine, Arizona Cuypress, Tecate Cypress, Eldarica Pine, Allen Chickering Sage, Modoc Cypress.

10/17/10 'Barbara Karst' Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea buttiana).

10/17/10 Artemisia 'Powis Castle,' St. Catherine's Lace (Eriogonum giganteum), and 'Barbara Karst' Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea buttiana).

 10/17/10 'Santa Barbara' Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) against the backdrop of native California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum).

10/17/10 Mexican Blue Sage (Salvia chamaedryoides). 

10/17/10 Clockwise: 'Pink Cloud' Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri), Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha), Coulter's Pine (Pinus coulteri), Pointleaf Manzanita (Arctostaphylos pungens).

10/17/10 Hana, in a highly unmotivated mode.