Wednesday, May 13, 2009

habitat ~ 05/13/09 ~ Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park
May 13 - 15, 2009

I am so glad we went before Memorial Day for the waterfalls and dogwoods. It didn't feel too crowded to me considering it's Yosemite and compared to the packed summers I remember from 20 years ago. Although, my husband would have preferred more solitude.

ps 10/08/11 - For the record, Mirror Lake is considered more a pond than a lake.

Great Basin fence lizard ~ 05/13/09 ~ Yosemite

best guess Great Basin fence lizard
best guess Sceloporus occidentalis longipes

As with the other lizards, I'm making my best guess as to ID. This lizard held quite still while I took numerous pictures of it. That's probably not the best thing for it to do since it looks like it lost some of its tail. I really liked the blue patches along its back and yellow patches on its throat and toes.

ps 05/04/10 - I had originally ID'd this as a Sierra fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis taylori), but I looked into it some more and we weren't at high enough elevations as this pic was taken near Mirror Lake.
mountain dogwood
Cornus nuttallii

I always heard Yosemite had great dogwoods but had never been there in the spring. Wow! The bracts look like fluttering, white butterflies perched en mass on large trees, straight out of a fairytale. While trying to find a good photo specimen, I noticed how irregular every "bloom" was.
California ground squirrel
Otospermophilus beecheyi

I'm not a huge oh-look-how-cute-a-squirrel kind of person, but this one posed so nicely on the Vernal Falls Trail I had to take a pic. We only hiked to the footbridge since it was our last morning in Yosemite and we didn't want to get soaking wet from the spray. Most of the trail information is misleading; "moderate" my ass! It's a fairly steep trail from the get-go and I was amazed to see people pushing strollers up the paved path - likely due to the mislead. I compare the difficulty level to the Upper Yosemitie Falls Trail, but Vernal is much shorter. If anything, I think the smooth continuous grade paving makes it harder to hike than traditional dirt and rock. Thankfully, we were heading down by the time most of the long-weekend tourists were heading up this very popular trail.

ps 01/09/11 - I think this is a California ground squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi) mainly based on its stubby tail.
deltoid balsamroot
Balsamorhiza deltoidea

This reminded me a little of prairie dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum) from Ohio because of the wide leaves but without the tall flower stems.

ps 05/09/10 - I posted this last year under unknown yellow flower. Can you tell I am totally unfamiliar with flowers? At least I knew it's an aster. Thanks to a lovely photo book, I was able to pin it down to balsamroot. My second guess would be arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata). Based only on the CalPhoto pics, it would be challenging to distinguish between the two. I do think the leaves and flower petals above are too wide to be arrowleaf. Most importantly, the elevation of Yosemite Valley is only 3966 ft. and arrowleaf grows between 4300-8300 ft. In the process of searching this, I rediscovered a cool site I had forgotten about: Calflora What Grows Here search.