Sunday, August 2, 2015

Birding Southern Idaho

On our way home we visited a wide variety of habitats, taking secondary roads instead of the Interstate.

Woods' Rose
Rosa woodsii

 Red-naped Sapsucker
Sphyrapicus nuchalis

House Wren
Troglodytes aedon

Dark-eyed Junco (Pink-sided)
Junco hyemalis

Franklin's Gull
Leucophaeus pipixcan

Friday, July 31, 2015


The last day of the conference we set out on our own to visit some nearby areas, including a hike into the Jedediah Smith Wilderness.

Bluebell Bellflower
Campanula rotundifolia

Cyndi photographing the Bluebell Bellflower
Campanula rotundifolia

Red Clover
 Trifolium pratense

pollinator on False Hellebore
Veratrum californicum

Columbian Monkshood
Aconitum columbianum

False Hellebore
Veratrum californicum
and Cyndi with Coneflower and  Red Clover

Bumblebee and Larkspur
Bombus and Delphinium sp.

Explorer's Gentian
Gentian calycosa

Ruffed Grouse
Bonasa umbellus

Mourning Cloak butterfly on Cow Parsnip (I think ... all feedback about identifications is welcomed).

Sticky Geranium
Geranium viscosissimum

This large lichen was growing on the forest floor.

Grand Teton, near Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Botanizing, Grand Targhee Ski Area

The Grand Targhee Ski Area opens its lifts in the summertime so mountain bicyclists can take their bikes on the lift to the top, and ride the trails down for that adrenaline rush all speed junkies crave.  Cyndi and I went on a field trip with the naturalist, to view the alpine wildflowers.

Small-flowered Penstemon
Penstemon procerus

Sulphur Indian Paintbrush
Castilleja sulphurea

Alpine Milkvetch
Astragalus alpinus

Colorado Blue Columbine
Aquilegia coerulea

Shooting Star
Dodecatheon conjugens

Desert Parsley
Lomatium cous

Green Gentian or Elkweed
Frasera speciosa

Alpine Wildflowers

Grand Teton

Alpine Wildflowers 
including the orange Wyoming Indian Paintbrush
Castilleja linariifolia

Ochotona sp.

Parry's Primrose
Primula parryi

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Yellowstone National Park, Norris Geyser Basin, Steamboat and Vixen geysers

Late in the day we arrived at our destination, the Norris Geyser Basin, welcomed by a slight drizzle that became more pervasive as we walked the loop.  The Steamboat Geyser has been the highest geyser on the planet, a few years back, so one is tempted to sit and wait, just in case it does it again.  It was shooting 10 to 30 feet in the air while I watched in eager anticipation.

The Vixen Geyser is worth the brief wait for its frequent spurts of activity.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mesa Falls, Henry's Fork, Snake River, Idaho

Cyndi and I took a detour to view Lower Mesa Falls on the Henry's Fork of the Snake River on our way to Yellowstone National Park.  How very awesome.

Above is Lower Mesa Falls.

Fireweed Chamerion angustifolium

I call this one, "I love my iPhone."  Both Cyndi and I got iPhones on a shared plan, and Cyndi often claims to hate it, and says it is very expensive (which it was).  But she's often seen holding it up to scan the scenery, and I'm often caught talking to mine.

I'm not trying to do some product placement here, and have not had the chance to try out the competing products.  I'm just saying, to see us becoming one with our technology is an interesting journey and raises a lot of questions.

I needed a cell phone with pager capability for work.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

You can really begin to get an idea of how big this waterfall is when you view the image below full size by clicking on it, and see that there's a second observation deck beyond the first, one that is right at the top of 
Upper Mesa Falls.

The cascade is about 200 feet wide, and the vertical drop is 114 feet.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Waking up at the south end of the Lost River Range, Idaho

Cyndi and I took a vacation in July.  Our destination was a joint meeting of the Idaho and Wyoming Native Plant Societies, at a campground near the Jedediah Smith Wilderness east of Driggs, Idaho.  We made a wandering path toward the rendezvous, setting out a few days early to compensate for our erratic course.  We went through Craters of the Moon National Monument on the way, and spent the night near Deadman Canyon, at the south end of the Lost River Range, in Idaho.

When we awoke we were surrounded by the sagebrush ocean and the community of life that calls this their home.  Sage Thrashers were abundant, Horned Larks flew through, and Ravens called.  I walked away from the truck without my camera and suddenly found myself surrounded by birds that I rarely see.  By that I mean I have seen the Sagebrush Sparrow only one time in my life, and the photo I took at that time was not clear enough for anyone to see what bird it was.

I ran back to the truck, fuming, and Cyndi was delighted because she had never seen a Sagebrush Sparrow at all.  I returned with my camera, and the pictures below will show you some of the ways to identify a Sagebrush Sparrow should you ever happen upon it.  It sits on sagebrush (but more often runs on the ground under sagebrush).  It has a central dark spot on its breast and a white line over the eye (supercillium, as the ornithologists would call it).

I now have an iPhone, and it does have some fun features, like the ability to take a panoramic image of something like 180 degrees.  There are many times a view like this is the only one that can tell the story.  You can click any photo in this blog, and some of them are high resolution, though honestly I usually reduce the size (both the physical size in pixels, and the file size in bytes).  You get a blog that loads faster, and I help keep photographers employed by trying to thwart digital theft and copyright infringement.

This blog, and all images contained herein are copyrighted, with all rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Pacific Crest Trail

On a long weekend trip to Eugene with Cyndi we had the good fortune and pleasure of camping in the mountains.  The first morning we woke up and walked on a Forest Service road that was well off the beaten path.  We were rewarded with views of an incredible trillium and a Life Bird, the Hermit Warbler.

Flowering Currant

Hermit Warbler

On the second morning, we awoke next to the Pacific Crest Trail.  Cyndi on the Pacific Crest Trail.

The lichens were hanging densely off every available branch.

We saw this beautiful butterfly with deeply serrated wing shapes.  It is a Hoary Comma butterfly, Polygonia gracilis.  It is called by a few different names over its range.  Some call it a Hoary Angelwing.  This is one of the few North American butterflies that hibernate during the winter and wake up in the spring to feed and lay eggs.

We photographed a number of pollinators.  This interesting fly with a long proboscis was probing the Manzanita.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Nature's Languages

Have you ever been fascinated by all the different ways we communicate?  I think of ancient Celtic runes that look to me like leafless trees in autumn, the dots and dashes of Morse Code or Braille, the bird heads and loincloth-clad figures in Egyptian hieroglyphics, and Japanese grass writing (which is the equivalent of our cursive hand).  As I walked in the forest I came across many patterns and textures that made me think of the varied ways we preserve and transmit information, and took this series of photos in case any cryptographers out there are interested in trying to break nature's code to find out what is being relayed.

This is a tree, returning to the particles from which it formed.

With just a little imagination, you'll see a woodland sprite, seated,  Maybe it will take a lot of imagination.

This was in a burned-over area.

This is the one that reminded me of Morse Code.

These are some large and very regular woodpecker holes.  I suppose it could be a sapsucker that made them.  Looks like dragon scales to me.

I believe these to be wood fibers, or the layer that held the bark to the tree, perhaps.

Have you seen the petroglyphs left by ancient peoples, the ones that are maps of their travels?  This, too, is a map of some creature's travels.