Elegant Rockcress

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Elegant rockcress (Boechera arcuata) is a native, perennial in the Mustard Family (Brassicaceae). It is endemic to California and often considered a variety of Boechera sparsiflora. However, geographic range and characteristics of the hairs justify giving elegant rockcress its own … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Garter Snake Labials

Western Terrestrial Garter Snake

I am not a big reptile person and usually ignore them. However a couple days ago Leonard and I were walking in Ash Creek Wildlife Area near Lookout CA (Modoc County) when we came upon this western terrestrial garter snake (Thamnophis elegans). It was about 4 feet long. What caught my attention was that it remained immobile with its head in the air. The snake looked so cute (if a snake can look “cute”) with its erect head I HAD to take a few pictures.

Once I downloaded the photographs I realized an opportunity to study some garter snake external characteristics. There are over 75 species and subspecies of garter snakes found from southern Alaska through Canada and the United States and into Mexico and Central America. Garter snakes are identified by the location or absence of lateral lines or stripes, the number and location of upper labial scales and the shape of internasal scales, among other traits.

Western terrestrial garter snakes have 8 upper labial scales (the row of scales directly below the eye), upper labial scales number 6 and 7 (counting from the front) are enlarged and are often higher than wide and two of the upper labial scales touch the eye. The number of rows of scales at midbody (19 – 21), the shape of the internasal scales and the location of the lateral and median lines are not easily discerned in this picture.

More information on western terrestrial garter snakes is available in my 10-16-2011 post entitled “Western Terrestrial Garter Snake”.

I just liked this little guy! Gal?

Posted in Reptiles | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Great Egret Breeding Adults

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Great egret (Ardea alba) sexes are similar. These pure white birds with yellow bills and black legs are a often observed while hunting by standing immobile or wading in wetlands. During the breeding season, the lores (region between eye and … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Brown Bells

This gallery contains 7 photos.

Brown bells (Fritillaria micrantha) arise from a large bulb with fleshy scales. This native perennial is a member of the Lily Family (Liliaceae). It is endemic to California, specifically to the dry, western slopes of the Sierra Nevada between 1,000 … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Concealment Pose

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Although American bitterns (Botaurus lentiginosis) are not uncommon, they are difficult to see and photograph. In addition to being very secretive, American bitterns assume a “concealment pose” when threatened. By standing motionless with its neck stretched and bill pointed upward, … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Waterfall False Buttercup

This gallery contains 8 photos.

Recently waterfall false buttercup was moved from Ranunculus to Kumlienia. Thus the scientific name of this native perennial is seen as both Kumlienia hystricula and Ranunculus hystriculus in the literature. Thure Ludwig Thoedor Kumlien (1819 – 1880), a pioneer ornithologist … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Sierra Mock Stonecrop

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Below Tueeulala Falls along the Wapama Trail, which follows the shoreline of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir (Yosemite National Park CA), are carpets of petite plants growing only a few centimeters tall – Sierra mock stonecrop (Sedella pumila). The genus Sedella contains … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments