Seed Heteromorphism

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In February, while hiking with friends along Abbott’s Lagoon Trail at Point Reyes National Seashore in California, we found some horned searocket (Cakile maritima) plants in bloom. The plants also had siliques – hard, corky, dehiscent fruits found in members … Continue reading

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Yesterday while hiking in Ash Creek Wildlife Area (Lassen County CA), Leonard and I saw something puzzling and for which we do not have an explanation. Two bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), an adult and a juvenile, flew overhead. The adult … Continue reading

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“Blue” Snow Goose

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It was darkly overcast, snowy and windy today when Leonard spotted a blue goose (Chen caerulescens) amid a flock of snow geese feeding in a field near the Modoc/Lassen California County Line on Modoc County Road 91. We see blue … Continue reading

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Dwarf Tanoak

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Tanoak (Notholithocarpus densiflora) can grow in two forms: a tree (var densiflora) or a shrub (var echinoides). In July, Leonard and I found dwarf tanoak (also called tanoak shrub) growing in profusion along the Castle Lake Road in Shasta Trinity … Continue reading

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Bride’s Feathers

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Various preparations made from the roots, leaves or the ashes of burnt bride’s feathers (Aruncus dioicus) were used by many Native Americans for a variety of ailments including blood diseases, smallpox, tuberculosis, bee stings, sores, swelling, bleeding, gonorrhea and as … Continue reading

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Granite Prickly Phlox

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Granite prickly phlox (Linanthus pungens) is a low shrub that grows erect or may be short and spreading, depending on the environment. Under good conditions, the plant can grow up to 3 feet in height, while at higher elevations mat-like … Continue reading

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Two Populations

Cinnamon Teal

I always think of cinnamon teal (Spatula cyanoptera) as spring waterfowl. It is a bird of western North America, breeding in wetlands from southern British Columbia and Alberta through western United States to the highlands of western Mexico and wintering in central and southern California and north and central Mexico.

During breeding season, male cinnamon teal have rusty-colored plumage that is striking when hit by the sun at the perfect angle. After breeding the males molt and look like the mottled brown females and immatures of this species. It is only in the spring that I can easily pick out the male cinnamon teal and his mate.

There is also a breeding population of cinnamon teal in western South America separate from the North American population. There is only one subspecies of cinnamon teal in North America. Four subspecies occur in South America – two endemic to Columbia and two ranging from Peru southward through the Andes.

This cinnamon teal pair was photographed in the Lower Klamath Wildlife Refuge near Tulelake CA (Siskiyou County).

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