04 de noviembre de 2020

Backbone Trail hike

On 9/24/20 went up Corral Canyon Road to the Backbone Trail in Malibu Creek State Park. Arrived around 4 PM. Began walking along the sun-baked ridge, studded with great fin-like rocks, weaving back and forth in pursuit of life.
First animal worth taking a picture of was a dragonfly that proved to be a Variegated Meadowhak. It sat nice and still on a branch while I snapped away.
Next found a Silver Garden Orbweaver, its web stretched between two bushes, and after that a tiny Blainville’s Horned Lizard, crouching among the dry scrub and nearly invisible thanks to its well-camouflaged scales. I had to track it through the grass as it scurried away, until it finally sat still enough for a photo.
Continuing on, and here and there climbing the rocks, eventually found a Duskywing that sat for its picture- a previous one got away.
Near a place where the trail went uphill, saw an orange “butterfly” flitting amongst the grass. When it landed its mottled brown forewings provided such effective camouflage that it was a while before I was able to find it. Upon closer inspection, determined it was a moth with orange hindwings, probably Drasteria. Going on, found another horned lizard that got away, Western Fence Lizards, and Side-blotched Lizards. Last and best of all, stumbled across a Patchnose Snake crossing the dirt road. It was a juvenile that immediately attemped to vanish before I pounced on it. Even then it was an energetic little thing, striking at me repeatedly and writhing madly, its tongue flicking in and out. I managed to get some good shots before letting it go.
Concluded by walking back on the paved road. Driving down, the fog lay on the sea, close by. A good trip.

Ingresado el 04 de noviembre de 2020 por quidestforas quidestforas | 7 observaciones | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

27 de octubre de 2020

Mojave Desert trip

On 9/3/20 drove up to the desert. Went up the 2 (Angeles Crest Highway) to Angeles Forest Highway, to Mt Emma Road, Fort Tejon Road, Valyermo Road, and north and east into the Mojave.
Got to Mt Emma Road a bit after sundown. Saw nothing until well up in the desert- Palmdale Boulevard or thereabouts. Then in quick succession roadcruised 5 dead and 2 live Mojave Rattlesnakes.
Having pulled over for the second dead snake, walked back to look at it and found a gigantic Hairy Scorpion. Snapped photos of it until it decided to scurry into the street. Frantically tried directing it back to the side with the snake hook before it was run over, but it wouldn’t cooperate. In desperation I stupidly tried grabbing its “tail” just behind the stinger, but in a millionth of a second it twisted around and stung me on my left thumb. First time I’ve been stung by a scorpion- surprisingly! It was like a very mild bee sting- was numb and sort of prickly for a few hours, then faded with no further effects.
Eventually gave up on trying to save the scorpion and left it to its fate. I think it got away.
Continued on, eventually down a desolate road, flat and empty in the dark, that had a live Mojave rattler on the shoulder. Took pictures, taking care to keep a safe distance. Eventually it crawled off into the bushes.
Down another, even lonelier road, found another Mojave in the middle of it. It began crawling away, then curled up in a coil while I snapped photos.
Kept driving east and turned south, now in San Bernardino County; passed through Phelan and Wrightwood and took the 2 all the way back to La Cañada, arriving around midnight.

Ingresado el 27 de octubre de 2020 por quidestforas quidestforas | 6 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

06 de septiembre de 2020

Lake Johnson hike

On 8/13/20 hiked to Lake Johnson, Santa Fe National Forest, New Mexico. Started a bit after 9 AM. En route to trailhead at Panchuela Campground, saw a Mule Deer buck and a group of turkeys- only ones from the trip.
A little up Cave Creek, flipped a rock and found a young Wandering Garter Snake. It promptly musked on me. Walking down to the creek to wash off, snake in hand, I immediately found another Wandering Garter, this one quite large. As I was juggling the two in an attempt to take pictures, the smaller one bit me twice- the second time, it sank one fang into my left index finger, mercilessly deeper and deeper. Felt just like a hypodermic needle.
Continuing on, found a few beautiful Speyeria.
Arrived at the caves and briefly explored them. They went back quite far, passages going in and out of each other until they ended in several narrow, dark notches that the creek poured into.
Slogged on, finding Cupido, Speyeria, Polygonia, and many plants, until a stop at a junction to refill bottles with treated stream water. Went on for hours more, with the forest environment slowly but continually changing in plant and animal life as the altitude increased. Found a probable Linyphiid spider.
After 7 or so miles that never seemed to end, arrived at Lake Johnson. It was lower in elevation than I had thought. Almost immediately began walking around the perimeter. Found interesting plants and a pair, at least, of large blue Darners. Perhaps more flying around, unless they were the same pair. About 3:00 by now. I lay down on my stomach to photograph the dragonflies. One was perched on a log, arched between head and abdomen. The other would periodically swarm it, buzzing and harrying the perched dragonfly. Eventually they ended up with the flying dragonfly on its back, its mouthparts tourching the perched one’s upside-down, its tail touching the other at the anterior portion of its thorax. Were they male and female? And what were they doing?
Went on to a beautiful meadow at the west end of the lake. Found some blue flowers I thought especially pretty, that I believe I saw only there. These proved to be Gentians.
Found small grasshoppers and an orange butterfly by the lake, even at this high elevation (11,100’). The butterfly got away.
Packing up, saw a few Gray (Canada) Jays.
Considered climbing “Capulin”/Redondo Peak, but unfortunately got to the lake too late.
Came back in the dark. A strenuous but successful hike. 14 miles round-trip.

Ingresado el 06 de septiembre de 2020 por quidestforas quidestforas | 40 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

04 de septiembre de 2020

Winsor Creek hike

On 8/11/20 hiked Winsor Creek, Santa Fe National Forest, New Mexico, to ridge overlooking stream valley. Basically my idea of a perfect trip- the valley a paradise with a huge number of insects, snakes, and plants.
In the valley, found many flowers, wasps, butterflies (Speyeria, Polygonia, Cupido, Lycaena, Echo Azure, Mylitta Crescent, yellows, and more unknown), flies, a Gnophaela moth, two Shamrock Orbweavers, and more. One particular patch of the insect-attracting Cutleaf Coneflowers was very fruitful; swarming with butterflies, and I narrowly missed catching a Wandering Garter Snake.
The first of the Shamrock Orbweavers was orange. Very happy to find it.
Turned off from the stream and began to gain elevation. En route, found many more plants, a trashline orbweaver (first I’ve seen in NM), Laphria, and grasshoppers. Passed through a recently burned area.
Rested on top and took in the view. Found a beautiful giant lady beetle (Anatis).
Headed back down. More plants. Back in the streambed, found a Wandering Garter that was swimming in the stream. Took lots of photos. Released it and it went into the creek, swam downstream, and then crawled out on the bank.
Proceeded on and found several White-lined Sphinx moths, then a big fat Wandering Garter Snake; a bulge in its stomach- must have recently eaten. Going off the trail, closer to the stream, found another Shamrock Orbweaver- this one yellow- in thick brush. They have small webs for such a large spider.
Saw two grouse that quickly flew away.
Going on, discovered a Wandering Garter Snake in the process of eating some kind of rodent, still protruding from the snake’s mouth. Fascinating.
More plants (and fungi) continually, along with two more Wandering Garters that escaped before I could get a picture- making for a surprisingly good total of six in all.
Saw a family of Dusky Grouse. Nearly six o’clock by now.
A successful trip, though I didn’t find the elusive Smooth Greensnake I was looking for- rare in Sangre de Cristos.
Started hiking around noon, which seems to be the golden hour for butterflies. Upon getting back down to the stream at 3:30-4 PM, there were none. Snakes were active in August’s warm weather as long as I was out there, though I found the most between perhaps 4 and 5.

Ingresado el 04 de septiembre de 2020 por quidestforas quidestforas | 68 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

31 de agosto de 2020

Jacks Creek hike

On 8/10/20 went to Jacks Creek, Santa Fe National Forest, New Mexico. Beautiful and appeared lush to me, though there’s a drought. Examined insect-attracting flowers I didn’t know the name of at the time- Cutleaf Coneflowers. Found many insects. These flowers love the water.
Saw a dark-colored butterfly I’d never seen before and followed it, but it got away. Flipped a large log and found a snakeskin underneath. Seconds later the snake itself crawled into view- it must live under the log. Had blue, cloudy eyes; about to shed. A Wandering Garter. Was almost uniformly brown, with only a faint stripe on the neck.
Continuing on, found another of the dark butterflies and fell into the stream chasing it. Boots soaked in vain, as it, too, escaped.
Saw Monkshood, which I took a picture of. Branching out into plants now. Took photos of several more flowers. Found abundant flies, bees, wasps, etc.

Ingresado el 31 de agosto de 2020 por quidestforas quidestforas | 10 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

30 de agosto de 2020

Pecos National Historical Park hike

On 8/9/20 drove into Pecos and was dropped off at Pecos National Historical Park. Good choice. Beautiful juniper scrub landscape. Saw signs for rattlesnakes but encountered none. Took pictures of several plants and walked by the pueblo ruins, kivas, and old church- solemn against the blue sky. Only for about an hour.

Ingresado el 30 de agosto de 2020 por quidestforas quidestforas | 10 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

25 de agosto de 2020

Santa Fe National Forest hike II

Hiked on 8/8/20 in Santa Fe National Forest, New Mexico. Found two Greater Short-horned Lizards en route; one an inch-long juvenile, reddish colored. Found fossils in the rocks on the way back, shells and such. Horses were in the meadow on the way down.
Horned lizards prefer sunny, rocky areas- loose rock interspersed with grass.

Ingresado el 25 de agosto de 2020 por quidestforas quidestforas | 2 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

24 de agosto de 2020

Santa Fe National Forest hike

Hiked on 8/2/20 in Santa Fe National Forest, New Mexico. Saw abundant insects- Vanessa, Blue Fungus Beetle, Bee Flies, Polygonia, Speyeria, wasps, bees, more flies, butterflies, grasshoppers. Saw also, to my excitement, 4 horned lizards. The first one puffed up and gaped in a threat display. The last one was large and attractively colored. Also found an old cow carcass.

Ingresado el 24 de agosto de 2020 por quidestforas quidestforas | 17 observaciones | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario