Sea Pink

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It is interesting how one thing can lead to another. I got far from the subject of botany while researching the meaning of Armeria, the genus of today’s wildflower, sea pink. Armeria is the Latinized French word “armoires”, a cluster-headed … Continue reading

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Sponge Gall Midge

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One of the most common galls found on tall sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) is a spongy gall induced by the sponge gall midge (Rhopalomyia pomum).  Tall sagebrush, also commonly called Great Basin or big sagebrush, is found between 4,000 and 10,000 … Continue reading

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Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal

I hit the jackpot yesterday while Leonard and I were exploring some hidden ponds near the Quarry Trail at Ash Creek Wildlife Area (Modoc County CA). We saw and I was able to photograph two “new” duck species, both of which we occasionally see but up until now had evaded my camera.

Blue-winged teal (Scapula discors) are summer residents of Canada and United States. Long distance migrants, most of these small ducks winter in South America with a few remaining in the coastal regions of our southern states.

The male blue-winged teal has a black bill, wings and rear. There is a large white crescent shaped area in front of the eye and a white flank patch. The head is blueish grey and the buff body is covered in black spots.  The wing coverts are powder blue and the secondaries are green. The blue and green on the wings are easiest to see in flight.

Blue-winged teal forage in very shallow water gleaning from the surface or swimming forward with the head partially submerged. Their diet consists of snails, bivalves, insects and crustaceans and plant material, especially seeds.

A synonym for S discors is Anas discors.

Although we saw a pair, I only photographed the male before the blue-winged teal flew off. We believe the pair is nesting in that little pond and plan to return in the hopes of photographing the female. We now have figured out how to approach the pond without alarming the teal.

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Ranchman’s Tiger Moth Caterpillar

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We probably all are familiar with tiger moth caterpillars, those fuzzy, orange and black “woolybears” used by children to predict the severity of the coming winter. I was always carrying woolybears around. When disturbed, woolybears curl into a ball. It … Continue reading

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Raven Antics

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Common ravens (Corvus corax) are noted for their intelligence, adaptability and mischievous natures. They rank among chimpanzees, dolphins and human 4-year olds in problem solving. Ravens will taunt and mock other creatures. They also make “toys” to play alone or … Continue reading

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Red Maids

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“Its modest charms are best appreciated from a kneeling position, appropriate in the presence of the divine handiwork represented in these small jewels” LJ Clark, Wildflowers of British Columbia (1973) Red maids (Calandrinia menziesii) are delightful little flowers that indeed … Continue reading

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Annual Turtleback

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Members of the genus Psathyrotes are commonly called turtlebacks because they form rounded mounds of leaves that resemble a desert tortoise shell in size and shape. The most common is velvet turtleback (Psathyrotes ramosissima). I found  another more widely distributed, … Continue reading

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