I was surprised to realize one doesn’t need to travel far to find objects or scenes of interest and intrigue. I picked 12 of my favorite images from 2016. Surprisingly, half of my favorites were taken within yards of my house, others from just a few miles away.
How did I pick these twelve shots? I quickly went through my images and labeled ones that were favorites. I then selected ones that created an emotion, feeling or memory for me. Not just another record shot. I then sorted the 80+ images into sets: black and white, food, landscapes, macro’s, people, animals, insects, artistry shots and such. I then narrowed it down to one or two from each category.
I’m certainly learning what interests me and along the way I’m surprised that my passion in photography turned out to NOT be just macro’s of flowers. It will be interesting to see what 2017 brings as I acquired my new iPhone and DXO camera attachment towards the 2nd half of 2016. I’m just beginning to learn the new phone and camera features. I hope 2017 allows me the time to take more photos and to explore new ways to see life.
Day two of our weekend get away to McKenzie River area of central Oregon found us deciding between taking a walk through the forest or riding out near Cougar Reservoir.
We had thoroughly enjoyed a slow morning, plenty of fresh coffee, a delicious breakfast prepared by our BnB host, Sharon, of the McKenzie River Round House BnB. We enjoyed the company of the host, her husband, the other guests including a pair of cyclists who are riding their bikes across America. They are a delightful couple from Munich, Germany. The other guests were a math professor from Rutgers University and his family. We had the most interesting morning conversations with them.
We said our goodbye’s to the German couple after exchanging blog URL’s. You can check out their progress at QuerDurch!!
On our way back from the McKenzie Pass summit ride the day before we had stopped at the local bike shop in McKenzie Bridge to check it out. I had noted that they sold a good selection of maps. Not knowing where to hike we stopped in again in the late morning to pick up a map and to inquire where we could hike and hopefully avoid the crowd of folks hiking into the famous Blue Pool. It was now a weekend day and we had heard about the hordes of people that had descended on the area the weekend before and the overflowing parking area. Not the kind of scene I enjoy being a part of.
The young man in the shop had some ideas. One which sounded promising was a hike out Rainbow Ridge Trail leading to a rock outcropping and potential view of a distant waterfall. Sounded good to us so we headed up the road and made the turn onto a dirt road. We continued for a few miles and found the well marked trailhead.
The following are a selection of photos from our hike/stroll through the forest. What was most delightful about this hike is that we did not see another sole the entire time until we drove back out on the dirt road.
The ride up to McKenzie Pass from the west side proved to be far easier then either of us expected. We realize we underestimate the grade and difficulty of Mt. Diablo which we use to train on weekly. I really felt over prepared which is not a bad thing. Our original plan was to ride from McKenzie Bridge over to Sister’s and then back the next day. However, turned out this was the week of the Sister’s Rodeo and I was finding suitable lodging in Sister’s hard to find. So we decided it would be just as fun to ride up to the pass and back down the same way. We stayed at a delightful new BnB in Vida, OR called the McKenzie River Round House BnB. The next day we had planned to do some more riding but instead found a great hike through the forest along Rainbow Ridge Trail with a view of Rainbow Falls. We later drove to see two more water falls. I will post pictures of our hike and the falls in the next blog. This ride convinced us that we will be doing more touring.
Parenting! Never easy and no two children are the same. Once again, I have been hearing about challenging children and challenged parents, parenting or NOT! Maybe because last Sunday was Mother’s Day I’ve been thinking about what was my parenting philosophy.
Yes, I had my challenges with my girls. Days of doubt, frustration, anger and disappointment. But, as most any parent will tell you, they will do just absolutely anything for their child. Parental love is “normally” a very powerful thing. Parents do their best with the skills they have and the circumstances under which they live. We must be forgiving of the mistakes our own parents made, realize that we are not perfect parents either. We all just do the best with what we know. Again, as I’ve mentioned before, if we only could do it all over again, with the wisdom we gained from our mistakes from the first time.
The following is a quote from the bookThe Training of the Human Plant by Luther Burbank. Even before I discovered this quote, what it conveys was the foundation of my beliefs of what a child needs in addition to the basic necessities.
I recently came across this while minimizing my paper plunder once again. I think I need to get this book from the library. Enjoy!
Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water-bugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud-turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb, brooks to wade in, water-lilies, woodchucks, bats, bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, hay-fields, pine-cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets; and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of his education.
By being well acquainted with all these they come into most intimate harmony with nature, whose lessons are, of course, natural and wholesome.
A fragrant beehive or a plump, healthy hornet’s nest in good running order often become object lessons of some importance. The inhabitants can give the child pointed lessons in punctuation as well as caution and some of the limitations as well as the grand possibilities of life; and by even a brief experience with a good patch of healthy nettles, the same lesson will be still further impressed upon them. And thus by each new experience with homely natural objects the child learns self-respect and also to respect the objects and forces which must be met.
Looking at the world through a lens gives me a chance to pause and to truly appreciate what I’m seeing.
Photographing a plant, a bug, a rock, a child, a water droplet, a pet, a pattern or a landscape causes me to stop and to really begin to look and see.
I slow down. I breath deeper. I feel more. I notice more. I feel more alive. Colors start to appear more vibrant and rich. Sounds become clearer and more melodious. Scents become more perceptible. I start to notice associations and repeating patterns in nature. I notice how most of life can and does live in harmony. I find myself relaxing. My compassion and patience for other fellow humans increases.
And, now my photos and observations can have a greater purpose and impact. Through technology my images and limited knowledge can be shared. My photos can have so much more meaning when I share them with databases such as iNaturalist, Calflora and CalPhoto.
With the recent emergence of the field of big data, scientists can make better use of contributions from citizen scientists, citizen naturalists or wannabe botanists like myself. We will now be better able to monitor biodiversity and the changes which are occurring on this delicate blue sphere we call earth.
By sharing my images on iNaturalist I give a purpose to my pictures. They are shared with the scientific community and others of like mind. iNaturalist has encouraged me to look and see the small stuff on the trails.
iPhonography and iNaturalist have helped me become a better observer of nature. I have been richly rewarded with what I have seen. May it be the learning of a new species or the sighting of an old friend again.
Check out my local biodiversity project that I have created on iNat: Project: Sycamore Valley Regional Open Space Preserve I have started documenting the species on a few acres of open space preserve near my home. I couldn’t find good data on the area so I decided to create my own data. Maybe, someday, this information will prove useful to the surrounding community or maybe even to scientists as they monitor the movement of species caused by climate change. Or, maybe I will be able to document the natural recovery of this region from the historical aspects of cattle grazing or the impact of modern day humans on this now preserved space.
With advancing age, I continue to grow in amazement of the natural world around me.
So, instead of taking another selfie, think about using your camera next time to collect data about the world around you. You too can be a citizen scientist.
Here’s my photo dump of just SOME of the flowering plants seen on our weekend BioBlitz to Death Valley. Two days was not nearly enough time, but it was all the time we had.
There is, oh, so much that I didn’t see and will never see because there isn’t enough time in life to see it all.
A visit to Death Valley can only capture just one singular moment in time. The variety of species blooming can literally change from one day to the next.
I have “guestimated” many of the scientific names and added common names. Several of the flower’s I have just ID’ed to genus. Without pulling some of the plants apart or waiting for seeds to set I can not confirm ID’s. Knowing where the plant was observed, the soil type, elevation, associated species and time of year, a pretty good guess can be made in most cases.
For lack of a better way to organize the photos, I have attempted to display them in a color sequence. Please enjoy and let me know what you think. The photo’s have not been edited.
In mid-March I found myself registered to participate as a volunteer botanist and iNaturalist contributor for the 2016 Death Valley National Park BioBlitz, part of a centennial celebration of our National Parks.
A BioBlitz as defined in wikipedia is “an intense period of biological surveying in an attempt to record all the living species within a designated area. Groups of scientists, naturalists and volunteers conduct an intensive field study over a continuous time period (e.g., usually 24 hours).”
For the DVNP BioBlitz, the primary area of study was the area of Salt Creek.
Not only would scientists and iNaturalist be out in the creek area collecting data, but several programs and presentations were set up for the general public. The access road to Salt Creek was closed to traffic and the public and volunteers could either park out on the highway or another designated parking area and take a shuttle to the sight.
The park was blessed this year with above normal rainfall resulting in a rare super bloom of wildflowers. And, just the night before the BioBlitz, the valley was blessed with another rare sprinkling of measurable rain. The creek would be flowing a tad higher and some of the plant habitat’s would present some unique water crossing challenges for the field botanist. Not something one would expect in such a barren and hospitable landscape.
Here’s a link to the iNaturalist posts showing the species count results for the DVNP BioBlitz of March 12th, 2016.
These images where taken at the BioBlitz of the groups working area’s of biological study. I was able to contribute to the iNat project site 17 observed taxa, 20 total observations, of which 16 qualified as research grade. To date I have been notified that 9 of my observations have been selected for use by the project.
I am so honored to have been a participated for the 2016 BioBlitz. In another post I will identify some of the more common wildflowers seen over the weekend. We had an absolutely stunning and amazing visit to Death Valley National Park(DVNP). More Death Valley posts to come.
On the east side of the San Francisco Bay are some wonderful regional parks operated by the East Bay Regional Park District.
At the end of February I took a midwinter walk led by David Margolies, the treasurer and Bay Leaf Assistant Editor for the East Bay California Native Plant Society. The walk followed the Redwood Creek and returned along the ridge in Redwood Regional Park.
Redwood Regional Park is many acres of land that was once an original stand of old growth Coastal Redwoods, Sequoia sempervirens. It is in the hills and canyons just above Oakland, California. The old growth trees were logged in the mid 1800’s. What is left is 2nd and 3rd growth groves. It’s pretty cool to know that I live less then an hour from this grove of redwoods.
David was a fabulous leader and he had lots of trivia to share about much of the common flora of this rather disturbed habitat. I learned from David that this area had not only been logged but later was converted to a dairy farm and orchards. So, needless to say, there are lots of non-native plants growing with the natives.
David was great at pointing out little things to look for on various plants that would help with ID’ing and to remember which plant was which. This blog post has some photos of common redwood and mixed hardwood forest plants. The walk was a good review for me and maybe an enjoyable read for someone who wants to become more familiar with these common forest species.
He pointed out on the common coffee berry bush the prominent venation on the under side of the leaves and how the veins curved upward as they reached the margins of the leaf.
Poison Oak is still dormant (hasn’t leafed out), however David pointed out the straight light brown branches and emphasized that we observe the short side spurs as a good way to recognize this toxic plant, Toxicodendron diversilobum. I love that name which translates to poison tree. However, I don’t love the rash caused by coming into contact with most parts of the plant.
Regarding the small shrub called Nine-bark he shared the trivia about this multi stemmed shrub that has continually shedding thin strips of bark exposing a new layer of bark as if it had “nine lives”. Common mugwort was pointed out and we were reminded that as a member of the genus Artemisa, the leaves have a similar smell as our native California Sage, Artemisa californica. I imagine the scent of California Sage will be one of those plants that will evoke childhood memories for my daughters. For me it is the smell of home and the chaparral which is so characteristic of the places I have lived in California from the Bay Area to Santa Barbara.
Did you know that the California buckeye tree is the only native California tree with opposite palmate leaves? Well, now you know.
How to tell a current from a gooseberry? Well, most of the time, currants have smooth round fruits, while gooseberries have prickles or spines. The plant genius name is Ribes. In Europe they make drinks from the European species and the drinks are called Ribes and Ribena.
I had never thought about the notch on the leaflets in the “sword” fern. The notch is similar to the hilt of a swords handle. Ah, maybe that has something to do with the common name “sword”fern.
The Pacific Trillium, Trillium ovatum flower changes from white to pink after it has been fertilized.
I need to get my old hand lens out and take a closer look a the stamens of Ericaceae. The stamens‘ anthers open by a pair of holes at their tips (not along their sides) How cool is that? Okay, I’m really nerd’ing it up. (
Indian warrior, Pedicularis densiflora, like others of its genus is a “root parasitic plant, attaching to the roots of other plants to obtain nutrients and water. This species is a facultative parasite, or hemiparasite, in that it can live without attaching to another plant but will parasitize if presented with the opportunity. It often parasitizes plants of the heath family, such as manzanita.”
Well, hope you’ve at least enjoyed the photos if not some of this posts common plant trivia. Congratulations if you have read this far. You must be one who appreciates nature.
On a recent Friday afternoon we found ourselves on the other side of the bay to run some errands. We scheduled in an hour or so to spend on a hike in the local hills of the Santa Clara county mid peninsula region.
We chose to explore the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve and Deer Hollow Farm in an area very near Los Altos on the northwest end of Santa Clara valley and part of Silicon Valley. The preserve is near “Googleville” and north of “Appletown”. The write up about the open space sounded intriguing in that we could walk a trail through riparian, meadow and coast live oak woodland and visit Deer Hollow Farm. Deer Hollow Farm is a recently restored (1993) working farm from the 1850’s.
We walked through a woodland consisting predominately of Coast Live oak, buckeye, California bay and poison oak. A few of the bay tree buds were starting to bloom. The understory consisted of a lush bright green covering of native grasses mixed with numerous common annual and perennial wildflower seedlings. Plenty of buttercups, miner’s lettuce and California Manroot were already in bloom. New growth of bedstraw, coast iris and native bulbs could be seen mixed in under the tree’s.
Critter’s filled the air with their tweets, chirps, hoots and chatter. We were treated to the call of a Great Horned Owl in the distance, the loud squawk of a scrub jay in the trees, several Pacific Chorus frogs near the creek and the chatter of a few too many squirrels. We watched a cottontail bunny near a big log and numerous ground squirrels. We spotted a large wood rats nest of branches not far from the trail.
It is so nice that these park lands have been set aside for all to enjoy and to provide habitat for the native species that have lost so much land to development.
Once again we realize how fortunate we are to live in the San Francisco bay area and in California. A state that has taken land preservation seriously, and has created a fair amount of parkland and protected wildlife habitat.
The following are a few photos taken during our short time in this open space.