Archivos de diario de marzo 2013

19 de marzo de 2013

Notes of an amateur botanist

Having never been "schooled" in botany, I find keying overwhelming when running into an unknown botanical term, or two or three. My degree was in physical chemistry, and my first job was as an industrial chemist at an air separation plant, where one of the things I did was test the CO2 in the air (hydrocarbons in liquid oxygen) every other day, and also learned how oxygen got into the air. Hence, I understand a little of climate change.

iNaturalist is wonderful for catching any incorrect ids I have, but challenges to something I "know" is correct leaves me in a tizzy - at least initially - because I have to prove my case using the dreaded "botanical" terms.

For the first, I went around and around for a couple days, where maps and other opinion did not help, until finally I consulted the normal "end" of a keying exercise, the plant description. I guess one could say it is akin to "nectar robbing", going in the back door.

Anyway, doing this resolved the issue, because Leptosiphon ambiguus was thought to have "humongous" pistils. A quick consultation with Jepson would have indicated that when considering L. ambiguus versus L. parviflora, the latter would more likely have the "humongous" pistils. It was the convincing argument. But it cost me a lot more time than if I had known what I was doing.

L. parviflora
Flower: calyx 4–10 mm, densely hairy, glandular, membrane obscure; corolla salverform, tube 11–46 mm, thread-like, maroon, pink, or yellow, throat yellow, purple, or orange, lobes 4–8 mm,elliptic to oblanceolate, pink, white, yellow, or purple, often with red marks at lobe bases; stamens exserted; stigmas 1–7 mm.

L. ambiguus
Flower: calyx 3–6 mm, generally hairy, membrane generally = calyx; corolla funnel-shaped, tube 3–6 mm, purple, with wide hairy ring inside near throat, throat 3 mm, generally maroon, lobes 4–6 mm, lanceolate, pink, bases yellow, occasionally with white distal to yellow; stamens attached above hairy ring, exserted; stigmas 1–2 mm.

My modus operandi now for resolving differences without keying is
a) Check the recorded locations of both species
b) Check available photos and see if anything jumps out as being different
c) Compare the Jepson descriptions, and see if the "jump out" is described in words, or if there are other differences that can be seen in photos
d) As a last reosrt, consult an expert

Some botanists understand the difficulties that amateurs have, and have created helpful pages, such as below:

But, I should also learn more botanical terms. Next year!

Ingresado el 19 de marzo de 2013 por lynnwatson lynnwatson | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

20 de marzo de 2013

Male Lions Use Ambush Hunting Strategy

If Scott reads this, possibly one of the waterholes in Etosha Game Reserve should be studied as well. There are not many trees in these areas, and I have seen male lions hiding behind termite mounds or other physical rocky features to ambush game as it comes to the waterhole for drinking.

I have seen both males and females hide in long grasses, the only difference being that the lionesses then flush the game toward the hiding male, who often does the kill. It may be a hunting technique that is adapted to the surrounding environment. In the Kruger there are lots of trees, in Kenya there is lots of grass on the savannahs, and in Etosha around watering holes there is often nothing but rock features.

Ingresado el 20 de marzo de 2013 por lynnwatson lynnwatson | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

24 de marzo de 2013

Glorious Greenbark Ceanothus

Driving up south Refugio Road yesterday, the lower elevation ceanothus seemed to have all gone to seed. Higher up, though, there was a ceanothus celebration. Seeing patches of darker blue in among the white, I was hoping to find C. oliganthus, which grows in some places in the Santa Ynez Mountains.

But it was all Greenbark Ceanothus - white, cream and blue. The blue was lighter in real life than seen through my dark glasses.

Oxalis californica and Phacelia grandiflora were the most interesting finds of the day, while adding other more common species to the West Camino Cielo west and Refugio Road sets. Woolly Blue Curls is about to bloom, and Ceanothus cuneatus has started. Two Bramble Green Hairstreak were seen for the first time on West Camino Cielo.

Below is a Flickr slideshow of the Greenbark Ceanothus.

Ingresado el 24 de marzo de 2013 por lynnwatson lynnwatson | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario