White Fairy Lantern

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Leonard and I spent the last week in the Yosemite Area. The wildflowers are only beginning to bloom, but I did find many “new” specimens. I will share some of these plants in my next series of posts. One of … Continue reading

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More 2019 Spring Wildflowers

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Leonard and I have several areas on our ranch (near Lookout CA – Modoc County) that we leave as untouched wildlife areas. These wildflowers are some of the earliest that bloom in those protected areas on our property. As in … Continue reading

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2019 Spring Wildflowers

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Spring is very late this year. Leonard and I are happy to finally be finding the earliest wildflowers beginning to bloom. I seem to be genetically hard-wired to photograph every species I find, even if I already have “hundreds” of … Continue reading

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Annual Polemonium

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Annual polemonium (Polemonium micranthum) is an annual native growing in vernally moist to dry disturbed areas, often in association with sagebrush (Artemesia sp). It can be found between approximately 1,000 to 4,500 feet in British Columbia and the Western States … Continue reading

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Laggard Tundra Swan

Tundra Swan

Tundra swans, also commonly called whistling swans (Cygnus columbianus), breed in the high Arctic tundra and winter along the coasts of Canada and the United States. Leonard and I love to watch these elegant birds as they swim in the wild rice fields and ponds near our home or as they fly overhead with their necks straight out and their black legs trailing.

Usually the swans leave our area for their summering grounds by late February or early March. This year the tundra swans were a little tardy migrating, but they all appeared to be gone by the third week of March.

In the first week of April Leonard and I visited the Lower Klamath Wildlife Refuge near Tulelake CA. Much to our surprise we saw a single tundra swan resting in one of the canals. I had a 200 mm lens on my camera and was so close to the swan when I looked over the edge of the canal I could not fit the entire bird into the frame, cutting off the tip of its tail. We wondered why this laggard was not on its way to the Arctic. Our assumption that the swan was injured or could not fly was proven wrong when it eventually flew off. We we will never know why this lone swan was still on its wintering grounds.

Note the rust head on this pure white bird. The ferrous minerals in water and soil turn tundra swan plumage a rusty color as they feed on submerged or buried arthropods, mollusks and plant materials.

My post “Tundra Swan” from 11-11-2011 gives more information about these beautiful birds.

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Striped Ladybug

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Yesterday Leonard and I walked the Wildflower Trail at Ash Creek Wildlife Area near Lookout CA (Modoc County). Our spring is very late this year, so wildflowers were not blooming in profusion. But aggregations of striped ladybugs (Paranaemia vittigera) were … Continue reading

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Deer and Antelope Play

Mule Deer and Pronghorn

Leonard and I really do live “where the deer and the antelope play”. These “antelope” of musical fame are actually pronghorn (Antilocapra americanna), not antelope, as they are commonly called. But we all incorrectly call them antelope.

At the Ash Creek Wildlife Refuge across the road from our house, mule deerĀ  (Modoc County CA) inhabit the rocky slopes of Pilot Butte throughout the year. In the spring, pronghorn, mostly females, join the mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) on Pilot Butte. They will drop their fawns in about a month.

The pronghorn and mule deer readily mingle and appear to get along without conflict. Leonard and I enjoy seeing these mammals associate. The words to the “Home on the Range” chorus always seem to run through my mind when watching them.

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