Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Grand Canyon: North Rim

A view from the Lodge dining room!

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon had always been my it's a good thing I started my trip the government shutdown kept me from proceeding to the South Rim..Thus, there will be no blog, the sequel..Grand Canyon South Rim. Can't say it wasn't exciting to be a part of government incompetence..
Of course there were magnificent views, it's the Grand Canyon!
But I am always seeking ecosystems..After driving through the desert and reaching the higher elevations of North Rim, the Boreal and Ponderosa  forests were a cool surprise.. The Ponderosa Forest is found at an elevation of 8,000-7,200 ft, about the elevation of the Lodge..

A brave Ponderosa Pine..they
 can live to be 500 years old

I bark but don't bite..

Wildflowers thrive beneath the Ponderosa Pines..The visitor center listed the wildflowers in bloom in October, and I tried to find an example of each.. However, the visitor center listed only the generic names, so I have done my best to discover their  proper scientific names, but I disclaim  responsibility for strict accuracy :-) Please let me know if I have goofed.

Wooly Aster, Corethrogyne filagnifolia
Sky Rocket, Gilia Aggreegata, var. Arizonica

Quoth the Raven.."I am not a wildflower"

Lupinus argentus

Did I mention beautiful views?

Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja integra

Bitter Weed, Helenium amarum

Wildflower break time! 
Dark Eyed Junco, Junco hyemalis..
Western variation

Bitter Weed and Penstemon cyanocaulis,
Bluestem Beardtongue
Golden Rod..I am a complete failure at further ID..

That view again.. plants cling to life in the most awkward places..

A Yucca case in point..
The trunk of a living tree

Forest fire on the South Rim.

The highest elevation on the North Rim is at  Point Imperial..8, 803 ft. As you climb to this pass through the Boreal Forest, 8,200-9,200 ft. The dominant trees in this forest are the Quaking Aspen and tall pines such as the Engleman Spruce, and Douglas fir..

Quaking Aspens recovering from a forest fire.
Colors of recovery.

Aspen trunks at dusk, at a lower elevation.
Views from Point Imperial

The day I left the North Rim, on my way I had hoped, to the South Rim, a Steller's Jay finally the parking lot. The forest Jays had been uncooperative. Steller's Jays and a Red Headed Woodpecker were life-birds on the North Rim.

The best birds are in the parking lot.. Cyanocitta stelleri
Venus over the Grand Canyon.

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin~ John Muir Our National Parks

Friday, September 20, 2013

Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary

This charming cabin greets you after
your woodland walk to the sanctuary.
I have known of the existence of The Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary for some time, but had never visited. This year however, I was determined, would be the "Year of the hummingbird"..and next year too..and the year after..well, you get the idea! 

Previously I  would see one hummigbird, once a year in my garden, if I was lucky..At least I knew they came through. This year I planted Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower) and Salvia coccinea (Red Salvia), both native plants, and the hummers came..and stayed. I had daily sightings over a three week period. In the midst of that excitement, I decided to up the thrill and learning levels and visit the Hummingbird Sanctuary..I was not disappointed!

You proceed around (or through) the cabin,
 to a deck perched on the cliffs overlooking Long Island Sound.

The sanctuary is privately run and opened to the public free of charge during the month of August, other times by appointment. If you are on Long Island, or plan to be in the area at that time of year, here is a link to sanctuary information.

You have to check the blog day-of  to be sure the sanctuary is opened and you will have to sign a liability waiver, due to legal issues with neighbors, I believe..I am new to all this please read carefully! Even if you are not planning to visit,  the sanctuary website and accompanying blog provides a wealth of information..such as lists of hummingbird-friendly plants and sources to obtain them. 

One has to admire, and be grateful to, Professor Paul Adams,  of Stony Brook University, who provides this selfless service to birds, humans and the environment.

Gardens are stunningly designed to accent the location.

Hummer banquet all around.

There are also lower gardens. Unfortunately, due to Sandy's erosion, one can no longer descend the cliffs to the beach. That doesn't matter however, because there are garden chairs everywhere, and you are here to watch the hummingbirds..and the butterflies..

Here's one now!
(Feeding on Salvia greggii..I think)
And another!

The only humming bird that breeds on Long Island is the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird ( Archillocus colubris). These birds do not form mating pairs..the male comes early in the spring to stake out a territory. When the females arrive, the males go a-courtin'. Then the males leave (tsk!) and the females build the nests and tend the young. This may explain why I have never been lucky enough to see an adult male..

The beautiful Salvia uliginosa or Bog Sage, 
Chosen not only for the hummers, 
but because it matches the sky and the sea!

Look! Another Hummer!
A juvenile male I think..
Butterflies too! On Pink Porterweed (Stachytarpheta mutablis)
A four star hummer plant accoding to the sanctuary blog.
Giant Swallowtail, a "lifer" butterfly for me!

I feel pretty!
One of six Monarchs I have seen all summer.

Yes, I know you are seeing Butterfly Bush in this post, and yes, I know it is invasive..and no, in my opinion, we shouldn't plant it..but that is an entire topic in itself..

Did I mention I had hummers in my garden?
On Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

On Salvia coccinea

"Hummingbird don't fly away, fly away.."

A flash of harmless lightning, A mist of rainbow dyes, The burnished sunbeams brigtening, From flower to flower she flies~John Banister Tabb

Friday, August 23, 2013

Measuring the Days in Butterflies

Like Rachel Carson, I am afraid that one season I will find myself in the midst of a silent spring..or a silent summer, and so each winged creature is noted with pleasure..An imperfect and unfinished season of butterfly observations is presented here.. Last year's irruption of Painted Ladies has not reoccured....

Cabbage Whites have been plentiful, and whilst I used to regard them with disdain, their ethereal color and random playfullness has endeared them to me..We might as well appreciate what remains..

On Dittany (False Oregano) Origanum dictamnus, a native plant volunteer

Pieris rapae on Cone Flower (Echinacea purpaea), native cultivar

Skippers (Hesperiidae) have also been well represented and challenging to identify..If you think I have goofed, please let me know..In order of appearence..

Dreamy Duskywing, (Erynnis icelus) an early spring woodland skipper

Delaware Skipper (Anatrytone logan) in a dream world of Catchfly (Silene armeria), non-native

This may be a Peck's Skipper (Polites peckius)
On Ox-Eye Daisy (leucanthemum vulgare), non-native

Clear-Wing and Zabulon Skippers on Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) non-native.

Horace's Duskywing, (Erynnis horatius) another Open-Wing Skipper.

Silver Spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) on Bull Thistle
(cirisium vulgarum)

 Black Swallowtails arrived early in my garden  and availed themselves of the Bronze Fennel, (Foeniculum vulgare 'purpureum') a larval host, along with other members of the family Umbelliferae, such as parsely or carrots..... At one point there were 20 Black Swallowtail Cats on three fennel plants...Black Swallowtail Caterpillars molt and appear in different "instars". They disappear in their final instar.  I used to think that the birds had eaten them..(and maybe some are eaten) but then I learned that they wander off a long way to pupate..and no, I have never seen a pupa..even tho'I have looked..I need a tiny web cam..or Sherlock Holmes..

A Black Swallowtail egg.. I tried to catch every stage, 
but they were too sly for me.

Third Instar, here now, missed the early rush..
Fennel is setting seed.

Fourth Instar on Parsley, with a final instar, in hiding
..earlier in season.
Final Instar, one of twenty,
ready for disappearing act.

What the fuss was all about..(Papilio polyxenes)
And a close relative, Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)
on Zinnia elegans. Zinnas are native to Mexico.

Pretty as a picture
on Bee Balm (Monarda), native cultivar

On top of the world!
An American Painted Lady (two large, submarginal eyespots)
(Vanessa virginiensis), subgenus Cynthia..ha, ha..that's me!

All that flies is not butter!

My favorite garden visitor so far this year!
 Hummingbird Clear Wing Moth
(Hemaris thysbe)

The Red-Spotted Purples is a forest butterfly, also found in wooded suburban areas..hence in my yard... They prefer to  feed on tree sap, fermenting fruit or dung..and only occasionally feed from flower nectar. That explains why I have never seen one on a flower. Some folks put out fruit feeders for these pretties..maybe next year...
Limentis arthemis

See my red spots?

A tattered Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)
on Lance Leaved Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata) Native.

                                                             Finally, some tiny beauties
Eastern Tailed Blue (Everes comyntas), after  a rain.

Little Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) on Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron annuus), native.

I have seen only one the New York Botanical Garden native plant installation..that despite having several milkweed species in my garden..which usually sport monarch caterpillars...Other butterflies seen (and identified) but not recorded here..Common Wood Nymph (Cercyonis pegala) and Alfalfa Butterfly (Colias eurytheme)

Now I'll just hang out and see what else flies by

I have measured my life out in coffee spoons~ T.S. Elliot The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock  ..but butterflies are a better measure!