Friday, May 14, 2010

More Fun With Macro

Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja affinis

Bush Sunflower, Encelia californica

Bush Sunflower, Encelia californica

Catalina Mariposa Lily, Calochortus catalinae

Catalina Mariposa Lily, Calochortus catalinae

Purple Sage, Salvia leucophylla

Caterpillar Phacelia, Phacelia cicutaria var. hispida

On Monday, I went hiking at Forrestal Nature Preserve again especially so I could play with my new macro lens. I was surprised to find the preserve even more beautiful than the last time I was there. The sun was shining brightly and it was pleasantly cool. The flowers were even more profuse if that is possible.

By accident, I hiked in my new Vibram Five Fingers. I usually just wear these around the house but I forgot to put my regular hiking shoes in the car when I headed out. I didn't want to take the time to go back and so I thought I would give the VFFs a try. They are supposed to be OK for light hiking and running. It worked fine. They really do make you feel like you are walking barefoot. Going downhill was a bit precarious. I was afraid of slipping, but did fine. The advantage of these shoes is that you can use your toes for traction. The trail up Fossil Hill was hard, though. Too many little sharp rocks. The VFFs got all dusty and dirty, naturally, but you can just throw them in the washer and let them air dry which they did quickly. Now they are good as new!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A New Canyon to Explore

On Mothers' Day I got a chance to hike in a new canyon in the city of Anaheim called Deer Canyon Park Preserve. It is a 103 acre park set aside for preserving the native plants and wildlife right in the middle of housing development. If you didn't know it was there, you would never find it. I was lucky to have a very reliable guide to show me how to get into it, but I am not sure I will be able to find it again by myself. Suffice it to say it is off the beaten path. Which is good, because that makes it quiet and free of litter and dumping, and best of all, it has been left to grow wild, so the plants are truly what you would find in a canyon of Southern California. It hasn't had to be "restored."

The main path which we took up the canyon is actually an old paved road left over from the rancho days so the hiking was easy. I didn't have my macro lens with me and we didn't have much time, but I was able to snap a few photos as we walked along. Several plants that we thought weren't native turned out to be native and were new to me. I'll give you a sampling here.

The top photo is of a Chaparral Bush Mallow, Malacothamnus fasciculatus. There were several of these bushes in the canyon and they were all blooming profusely.

This plant with the large gray-green leaves is Wild Gourd, Cucurbita foetidissima. Both the mallow and the gourd were plants we thought were introduced, so I only took a passing shot at them. Now I wish I had taken more time to photograph the leaves of the mallow and the flower of the gourd from different angles. The gourd also has the name "Stinky Gourd" because the whole plant has a fetid odor especially when bruised.

Here is a red Sticky Monkey Flower, Mimulus aurantiacus. I have seen the yellow or golden orange one several places, but I have only seen the red one once before and that was in a cultivated garden at La Purisma in Lompoc. It was nice to see several of these plants here.

There was a lot of the usual Arroyo Lupine up and down the canyon, but as we were leaving, my eye caught this one lone plant that was different. I still have not been able to pin down the identification. There is nothing that looks quite like it at CalFlora or in Michael Charters wonderful catalogue. I'll keep looking.

We found two snakes on our hike. Yes, this one is a rattler—a Southern Pacific to be precise. Below is a close-up of his "rattle." I was told that as long as he wasn't coiled up, it was safe to carefully approach him for a photo. I nearly stepped on a rattler once when we were out in the desert. (I really need to look down at the path more often.) It was all coiled up, too, but sleeping in the tracks made by an off-road vehicle in the sand. My husband yelled at me just in time to prevent disaster.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A New Perspective

My new lens, Canon's EF-S 60mm Macro. It's great! This last picture is of Lupinus longifolius and was taken on our monthly Canyon Walk last Saturday. It wasn't until I looked at the photo on my computer that I noticed the aphids on it—and the fact that they are blue to match the flowers!