Tag Archives: lotus

Sooooo Many Lotus Plants, 08-12-18

Up at 6:00 o’clock and off to William Land Park by about 6:20 am. The park was hosting the Banana Festival there today so parts of it were closed off and parking was a bit more difficult, but I stayed away from all of the festival stuff and just walked around the ponds and the WPA Rock Garden.

The garden has been pretty burnt by the summer heat, but there were still a few things to photograph.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

The middle pond at William Land Park is grossly overwhelmed by Sacred Lotus ((Nelumbo nucifera) plants. So many that only a fraction of the water was clear enough for the ducks to swim in. The rest of the pond was inundated with plants which are all very lovely at this stage, when they’re blooming, but, although they’re native to the US (specifically Florida), they are considered “invasive” here in California. When they proliferate, they can completely take over a waterscape; and because their huge leaves cover the surface of the water.

At the large pond, which was clear except for a little alga, I got to see a few more birds, including a couple of mama Mallards with their ducklings.

I walked for about three hours and then headed back home.

Testing Out My New Camera, 07-08-17

Around 5:30 this morning, I headed out to the William Land Park to try to get a walk in before it got too warm outside… but it was almost too late to avoid the heat. When I got into the car the outside temperature was already at 77º! There was also a little bit of an overcast, so it was humid, too. (It’s supposed to get up to 106º today. Climate Change sucks the big one.)

I’d gotten a new camera (a Nikon one that’s about half the price of my beloved-and-now-deceased Fujifilm camera) and I was anxious to check it out. All of the buttons are in different places than they were on my Fujifilm but the functionality is about the same. The focal depth for macro (super close up) shots is a little better on the Nikon than it was on my other camera, so I’m actually able to get in closer than I could before, but I need to work on just HOW close “closer” can be. [Some of the close-ups turned out awesome; some were fuzzy because I was “too close”.]

I also have to learn all over again, how to get the camera to focus on what I WANT it to focus on (and not on what the camera wants to focus on itself.)

The WPA Rock Garden at the park is a good place to work on stuff like that, because it offers a wide range of close up and distant photo opportunities.

You can see the album of photos here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mkhnaturalist/albums/72157683856518290 

I got some awesome “bug” photos of a Yellow-Faced Bumblebee, Praying Mantis, a Longhorn Bee sleeping on the face of a sunflower, and a Wolf Spider whose eggs were hatching (and the hatched-out little spiderlings were clinging to mama’s butt.) I also came across a large Bold Jumping Spider, and wanted to see if I could get a photo of its iridescent blue-green fangs – and I did, but the focus wasn’t right, so I ended up with the petals of the flower in focus, and the spider in a soft blur on top of them. Gotta work on that.

The telephoto capability of the Nikon is slightly better than my old Fujifilm camera, too. (It’s a 60x, and the Fujifilm was a 50x.) The Nikon is a little “sluggish”, though, in moving the lens to the correct position, so if the subject isn’t sitting still, the camera has trouble tracking it and adjusting the focus. Practice will help me figure that out, though, I think. I tried “chasing” several hummingbirds around… That was humorous. Blurry fuzzballs everywhere.

There was a young Anna’s Hummingbird that was testing out its wings and trying to drink water from the leaves in the garden (which must’ve been watered overnight; the paths were totally muddy). When it sat down on a branch, I was able to get some pretty good shots of it (at about 20 feet away), along with a video snippet of it preening itself. I didn’t know how to set the speed for the video capture, though, so it came out in slow-motion. I’ll have to read up more on that…

I checked out the garden’s milkweed plants – they have Narrowleaf and Showy Milkweed growing in there – but didn’t see any signs of Monarch eggs or caterpillars. Maybe in another week or so…

I also came across some Wood Ducks with babies, a gaggle of Canada Geese that included some fledglings who were half-in and half-out of their baby fuzz, and a Green Heron that was fishing along the edge of the small pond. The heron wasn’t using lures, but it was using a great “stealth” technique (getting down almost on its belly along the edge of the pond to sneak up on tiny fish). It was pretty successful; caught at least three fish and a tadpole while I was watching it… And, of course, there were the ubiquitous Black Phoebes everywhere, and an American Robin with a beak full of bugs for her babies…

I’m so glad to have a camera again!

I walked for about 2 hours and then headed home.

Robins at the WPA Rock Garden, 08-06-16

I got up at 6:30 this morning, and headed over to the WPA Rock Garden for a walk. It was actually a little chilly outside (about 53°) with a nice breeze, so it was actually quickly lovely.  I’d gone there with the idea of walking through the garden and around the ponds, then go to the zoo, then go grocery shopping.  I was waaaaay too ambitious, especially considering that I’ve been tired all week. So I did my walk and shopped for groceries, cutting out the zoo entirely for today.  Tomorrow, the zoo is supposed to be hosting a Pokémon Go day, but today I saw all of the adults and older kids out around the park and hanging out in front of the zoo, to see what Poké-stuff they could find. Hah!

There wasn’t a lot really new to see at the park today, but I did get to watch a mama Robin feeding one of her three fledglings.  The babies were all very capable of feeding themselves, but pestered mom for food anyway. Danged teenagers.  Hah!  I got some video of that exchange.

CLICK HERE to see it, and other photos in the album for this day.

I also watched a hummingbird trying to take a bath in the water caught in the leaves of a tree after a sprinkler got to it, and got s little snippet of video of that, too.  There was enough moisture to get the bird’s feathers wet, but not much else, so it ended up just looking like it had bed-head. Hah-2!

Oh, and on my way out of the park, I saw a crow across the lawn that looked very odd.  It looked like it had a white or pale yellow patch on the back of its neck that wrapped around to its cheeks.  (I thought maybe it was a weird-looking magpie at first, but its body and beak were definitely “crow”.)  None of the other crows seemed to care about the oddball one; they worked with it to try to find stuff to eat.  It was too far away for me to see it clearly, though; and the camera couldn’t “reach” far enough to see it clearly either. As far as I could tell, I surmised that the crow must have been in the middle of a molt and the pale color I was seeing was is skin and undercoat of feathers.

My First Achemon Sphinx Moth and Caper Flower, 07-23-16

I didn’t sleep very well last night; neither I nor the dog could get comfortable for some reason.  Still, I got up at 6:00 and headed out to the WPA Rock Garden and William Land Park for a walk before it got too hot.

As I walked out of the house, I found a huge gorgeous Achemon Sphinx Moth (Eumorpha achemon) on the Bird of Paradise plant on the front porch.  I think it had just come out of its chrysalis and was trying to warm up for the day.  I got my camera and my cell phone out of my bag and took a bunch of photos of it before going any further.

When I got to the WPA Rock Garden, I was on the hunt for “jumping galls” which usually start cascading off of the oak trees this time of year.  And – score! – I found a bunch of them hopping in a gutter alongside the parking lot.  There is a teeny-tiny wasp (Neuropterus saltatorius) larva in each little gall (which are sort of like capsule-shaped “escape pods”). The capsules, which are about the size of millet seeds, form inside somewhat larger round galls on the leaves of oak trees. When it gets hot enough,  the larger galls rupture and dump the little capsules onto the ground by the thousands. The larvae flip around in an attempt to hide their capsule in the leaf litter under the tree… When they land in the cement gutter, though, they’re pretty much doomed.  I took some video of them, and scooped up as many as I could, got them off of the cement and onto softer ground.

CLICK HERE TO SEE A VIDEO OF THE GALLS.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE ALBUM OF PHOTOS FROM TODAY.

There were other galls on the same tree including some Red Cone galls and some Spiny Turban galls.  This is the best time of year to start seeing all these cool things!

So the moth and the jumping galls were a great start to my morning excursion.  I was hoping to see some praying mantises, but no luck there.  I DID come across a small group of five male Longhorn Bees (Melissodes sp.) sleeping on a sunflower, though, and that was neat.  The males sleep in groups to keep warm overnight, and they collect in the same place every night if they can.  To keep from falling off the plant in their sleep, the bees latch onto the plant with their mandibles (mouth pieces) and “lock” the mandibles shut.

I was hoping to see more insects in the garden, but apparently the city people had just watered in there before I got there.  They use huge hoses to water the garden, and practically “flatten” the plants when they do that, so al the neat bugs get washed down onto the ground under the plants where I can’t find them. Grrr.  I did manage to get a few photos off a female Carpenter Bee doing her “nectar robbing” thing on some flowers.  The Carpenter Bees are too big and fat to fit inside some flowers, so they climb over the top of the flower and bite a hole in the back of it to suck the nectar out through there. It’s called “nectar robbing” because the flower doesn’t get the benefit of pollination from the insect. The Carpenter Bees bypass the pollen and go right for the juice…

I came across a mama Mallard and her fledglings (that were almost as big as she was).  The babies were rooting around in the ground cover under some pine trees while mom kept an eye on them.  I got a few stills and some video of them, and while I was doing that I could hear the “chitter-chitter-chitter” call of a Belted Kingfisher behind me.  I turned around and found the Kingfisher sitting on a small signpost in the middle of the pond.  As you know, Kingfishers are like my “nemesis” bird.  I can never get close enough to one to get a really good photo of it… and today was no different.  But I still managed to get a few shots of it, and got to watch it dive face-first into the pond a few times to catch small fish.  They’re such neat-looking birds.  I wish they weren’t so hard for me to photograph, though!  Hah!

I did get to see some hummingbirds and Bushtits on my walk… and I also came across a flower in the garden I’d never seen before.  I suck at identifying garden plants but I figured this one might be easy to research online – the flower was so distinctive.  I discovered it’s the flower of the caper bush (Capparis spinosa), also called Flinders Rose.  The buds are and berries are the “capers” people eat.  Cool!  As I said, I’d never seen one before, so I can add it to my “firsts” list.  Very pretty!

I walked around for about 2 hours and then headed over to Raley’s to get some groceries for the next few weeks.  That took another half-hour, so I figured I did pretty well getting my exercise for the day.

Fourth of July at William Land Park

CLICK HERE for more photos.

I got up early again today, even though I have the day off – like just about everyone else – and headed out before 6:00 am to the William Land Park and WPA Rock Garden.  I wasn’t looking for anything in particular; just wanted to get some walking in before it got too warm outside.

There wasn’t much of anything new to see there, but I did get to see some late season baby ducks (Mallards and Wood Ducks) which are always fun to watch.  And the WPA Rock garden still has summer flowers in it; lots of sunflowers and suchlike.  I also noticed that along the wet part of the dirt path that winds through the garden there were lots of raccoon tracks – like little handprints in the mud.

The gardeners had cut down one of the century cacti that had bloomed (the blooming stalks are about 30 feet tall) and then subsequently died, but they left the one next to it upright still because birds had drilled a cavity into the stalk and were nesting in there. Awwwww.  I was glad they left that up until the babies hatch…

At the larger pond in the park, I was chased briefly by “the mean goose”, a white Chinese Goose who doesn’t tolerate humans coming near his Grayleg Goose girlfriend, but otherwise my 2 hours was a pleasant one.