2017 Year Of Prisma iPhonography

In 2017 I discovered the Prisma App for iPhonography.  People love the images I’ve created and so do I.  I decided my year of photos in review this year would be 12 images edited with the Prisma App. Enjoy.

Earth Day

Do you choose THIS?

We choose our future?  What choice will you make today and every day hereafter?  EVERY Day is earth day!

Or do your want more of THIS?

Read the History of Earth Day <——

Why am I taking so may photos of nature?

Looking at the world through a lens gives me a chance to pause and to truly appreciate what I’m seeing.

Sculptural old oak in Sycamore Valley Regional Open Space Preserve
Sculptural old oak in Sycamore Valley Regional Open Space Preserve

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.

Sycamore Valley Regional Open Space Preserve
Wide open grasslands of Sycamore Valley Regional Open Space Preserve

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.

iNaturalist Project

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.

Death Valley Flowers – March 2016 Superbloom

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.

Castilleja chromosa    Desert paintbrush


Calycoseris wrightii    White tackstem

Opuntia basilaris – Beaver Tail Cactus

{"focusMode":1,"deviceTilt":-0.007064298787389234,"whiteBalanceProgram":0,"macroEnabled":false,"qualityMode":3}Desert Five-spot (Eremalche rotundifolia)

Aliciella latifolia    Broad leaf gilia
Desert Gold


Encelia farinosa    Brittlebush


Turtleback (Psathyrotes ramosissima)


Mentzelia obscura – Pacific blazing star


Camissonia brevipes ssp. brevipes    Golden sun cup


Mohavea breviflora    Golden Desert Snapdragon


Little Desert Tumpet   Eriogonum trichopes


Little Desert Trumpet   Eriogonum trichopes

Desert Trumpet   Eriogonum  inflatum


Desert Trumpet   Eriogonum inflatum

Malacothrix coulteri    Snake’s head


Malacothrix coulteri    Snake’s head


Devil’s Spineflower (Chorizanthe rigida)


Gilmania luteola  Golden carpet


Malacothrix coulteri    Snake’s head


Nicotiana obtusifolia    Desert tobacco


Desert Rock Nettle (Eucnide urens)

pebble pincushion (Chaenactis carphoclinia)
pebble pincushion (Chaenactis carphoclinia) with Concrete Mites
A WHITE Five Spot
A WHITE Five Spot


Gravel Ghost (Atrichoseris platyphylla)


Seaside Heliotrope (Heliotropium curassavicum)


Brown Eyed Primrose

Perityle emoryi    Emory’s rock daisy


Monoptilon bellioides   Desert star

Monoptilon bellioides  Desert star
Panamint Cryptantha   Cryptantha inaequata


Narrow leaved cryptantha

Eriogonum fasciculatum  California Buckwheat
 Salvia funerea Death Valley Sage
Salvia funerea Death Valley Sage


Lilac Sunbonnet


Lupinus flavoculatus   Yellow eyed lupine


Xylorhiza tortifolia   Mojave woodyaster

Erodium cicutarium   Redstem Filaree
Fremont Phacelia
Fremont Phacelia


Caltha-leaf Phacelia   Phacelia calthifolia


 Notch leaved phacelia


Cylindropuntia echinocarpa  Wiggins’ cholla



Echinocactus polycephalus  Cotton Top Cactus

Bio Blitz – Death Valley: Discovering Life on the Edge

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.

Botanists - spreading out to search an area an to tread lightly by not walking in each others footsteps.
Botanists – spreading out to search an area and to tread lightly by not walking in each others footsteps.

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).”

Researcher's and iNaturalists collecting data within the creek.
Researcher’s and iNaturalists collecting data within the creek.

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.

Death Valley iNaturalist BioBlitz Species Count Results

Herpetologist trying to photograph the fast and small critters.
Herpetologist trying to photograph the fast and small critters.

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.

Your's truly get an up close macro documentary image.
Your’s truly getting an up close macro documentary image.

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.

Wednesday Lunch Walk

Went for a walk at noon today. Here’s what I photographed. (click on images to see larger)(Now back to outdoor furniture staining and other obligations.)

My moment of "Zen" place today.
My moment of “Zen” place today.
Found this grove of young buckeye trees.
Found this grove of young buckeye trees.
Gray Mules Ears - Wyethia helenioides
Gray Mules Ears – Wyethia helenioides
Some more common fiddle neck.
Some more common fiddle neck.
First poppy I've photographed for 2016
First poppy I’ve photographed for 2016
One of many lady beetles seen
One of many lady beetles seen
One of the backyard Adirondack chairs dear hubby built and I'm finally sanding and staining.
One of the backyard Adirondack chairs dear hubby built and I’m finally sanding and staining.

“Googleville” and “Appletown” Open Space Explorations

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.

Black Tailed Deer
Black Tailed Deer

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.

White Barn
White Barn

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.

Mircantha californica - California Saxifrage
Mircantha californica – California Saxifrage

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.

Kid, doeling, buckling.... or just baby goat
Kid, doeling, buckling…. or just baby goat

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.

Sheep, ewe's, lamps.... whatever, got to love the farm terminology
Sheep, ewe’s, lamb’s…. whatever, got to love farm terminology
cow, heifer, a head of cattle, bovine
cow, heifer, a head of cattle, bovine… more farm terminology




Pentagramma triangularis - Goldenback fern
Pentagramma triangularis – Goldenback fern
Pedicularis densiflora - Indian Warrior
Pedicularis densiflora – Indian Warrior
Lathyrus vestitus; Bolander's Pea
Lathyrus vestitus – Bolander’s Pea
Salix lasiandra - Pacific willow
Salix lasiandra – Pacific willow




Pacific Hound’s Tongue - Cynoglossum grande
Pacific Hound’s Tongue – Cynoglossum grande
Western Gray Squirrel - Sciurus griseus
Western Gray Squirrel – Sciurus griseus
Trillium chloropetalum  - Common trillium,  Giant wakerobin
Trillium chloropetalum  – Common trillium,  Giant wakerobin

A few more natives in bloom

Local hills, around town, blooming now.

Calandrinia ciliata var menziesii fringed red maids


Amsinckia intermedia common fiddle neck


Nature doesn’t need people. People need nature.

Conservation International moving Nature Video’s.  PLEASE watch at least the first one I’ve linked to below.  They are beautifully done with powerful words that parallel my blogs underlying message. Nature is prepared to evolve. Are we?

Nature is speaking video with Julia Roberts as Mother Earth (1:59)

Nature Is Speaking: Reese Witherspoon is Home (:49)


What’s happening in my garden on this warm February day?

In this northern California urban garden there is a flurry of activity.

Pajaro Manzanita
Pajaro Manzanita

Winter is not a time of rest for this native plant gardener. It is a time to get into the garden daily to witness the changes which come quickly at this time of year. The variety of flora blooming and the fauna visiting are changing daily. (Note: We don’t really have winter in most of California, we have a transition period to and from summer)

The floral, honey and spice scent of the paper white narcissus compete with the memory

Paper white Narcissus
Paper white Narcissus

evoking chaparral smells of the native California sage.  The sage oils are being released by the heat of the winter sun and permeate the fresh winter air mixing with the narcissus fragrance.

The baby lizard’s activity increases as the day warms.

Garden Lizard
Garden Lizard

I see them darting under the rocks on my porch.  I’m glad to see that they have survived the winter and have decided to stay in my garden. They must be growing.  On the front brick walkway I find the dry skin that one lizard must have wiggled free from and left behind.

The bustle for this February day is unreal.

Bee Plant Flower
Bee Plant Flower

There are so many different species of song birds.  I don’t know all the species but recognize a few as sparrows, house finches, goldfinches, hummers and robins.  My chickens chase the sparrows out of their free range area of the yard.  I chuckle as I watch them.  They also chase the squirrel’s, but the sparrow chasing is new.

B-Color Daffodile
Bi-Color Daffodile

I’ll be watching to see what blooms next.  I can tell that the California lilacs, sages and poppies are forming flower buds. Buds are swelling on my many small tree’s indicating that the light apple green of new leaves isn’t far away.

Frost kissed Jelly Bean plant
Frost kissed Jelly Bean plant

Other plants blooming today are my

Hellebores, vinca, apple tree, daffodilis, rosemary

Rosemary flower
Rosemary flower

and an unnamed bulb bloom.  Okay, so I still have several plant species that are not native California species.  If they can survive not being watered, I guess they get to stay.  I make one exception though and that is my few rose bushes.  They’re not native and they are water hogs but they have been in my garden for decades now and I don’t yet have the heart to take them out.

Buttercup bud
Buttercup bud

if you live in California, I hope you are noticing all the flowering trees that have started to bloom. I call these popcorn trees, they look like they pop into bloom almost overnight. Hope you’ve enjoyed today’s photos. Soon I’ll blog about some resources for purchasing native plants and how to sheet mulch your lawn.  Stay tuned.

Doffodile cup fringe
Doffodile cup fringe