Thursday, June 10, 2010

Colors and Recovery, Lizards and Flowers

(Update 12 Jun 10: I've added plant identifications under each photo.)

Within the last three years, the region south of Palomar Observatory burned. This fire displaced many people for a few days and even jumped an eight-lane lane freeway. This year I noticed an abundance of a plant commonly called "deerweed", though I object to the "weed" part of its name.

Close up, it looks mangy, and often is, but even closer, you can appreciate the yellow are red of tiny flowers all along its stems, which give the hillsides their color:

(Deer weed, Lotus scoparius)

The burned hillsides are covered in this plant. I pass these way several times each year and have been doing so for the last five years. So I think the abundance of this plant this year is exceptional and I wonder if there is a connection between the prolific spread of this plant and the previous fire.
I was limited by the road's lack of  safe places to park that also afforded views of the slopes. Here is a hastily taken photo, but it gives an impression of the dominance of this plant:

Also along these slopes this time of year, I noticed horned toad lizards. Cute little guys:

Not far from where I took the above photo, I saw a snake with the head of a larger horned toad lizard it it's mouth. It was still working on the shoulders as I startled it. I had one of those bad lens cap moments. By the time I removed the lens cap, the snake tumbled, doing a barrel roll, off of the path with the lifeless lizard still in its mouth and disappeared in the brush.

Lesson: Stick to still life photos. So I captured a few favorite flowers blooming at the beginning of our dry season. This is perhaps my favorite in this region. The petals look like they are made out of cloth:

(Yellow Mariposa Lily, Calochortus weedii; not to be confused with the Calochortus clavatus, which also grows in this region and is called by the same common name)

And this one's tiny red sparks glow even when in shadow:

(Indian Pink, or Fringed Indian Pink, Silene laciniata)

 I made no digital enhancements to this or any of these photos.


No comments: