Saturday, December 25, 2010

habitat ~ 12/25/10 ~ San Francisco Botanical Garden

December 25, 2010

It is with great thanks to fellow blogger Katie at Phyte Club that I even knew the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum would be open (and free) on Christmas Day. It was my first time in the gardens. Wow! It would be well worth the relatively inexpensive $7 non-resident admission price on any other day... especially if it's not raining.

As per my typical rain curse (whenever I plan ahead for a hiking or camping excursion), it rained, and then it rained some more. Did I mention my graduation ceremonies from Ohio State was the only 2nd rain-interrupted outdoor procession in its over 100 year history? Don't let me get started on my wedding day! Most of my pictures from S.F. ended up too dark or fuzzy to post, and I'm still not decided on how to handle "garden" pictures on Nature ID. I do hope to show above that there are numerous blooms here on the coast of CA during the winter.

No worries, I had an absolutely lovely day, exploring the lesser known high peaks of San Francisco, finding new places in Golden Gate Park, enjoying a New York-style bagel heaped with more lox than I could buy at a grocer with tomato, red onion, and capers at the House of Bagels on Geary, and lunching for hours with a total stranger I met on Clement who advised me of the best Vietnamese noodle house I've ever been, Le Soleil. Angela, if you're out there, you were my angel on Christmas Day.

Again, with many thanks to Katie and Angela, for helping me find and create a memorable Christmas Day.

torch aloe ~ 12/25/10 ~ San Francisco Botanical Garden

torch aloe and Kenyan aloe
Aloe arborescens and Aloe kedongensis
Asphodelaceae (now included under Xanthorrhoeaceae)

posted 2/13/11 - I've been on the hunt for the ID of a particularly large and "bushy" aloe, since they're quite prominent along the shore here in Pacific Grove where I live. I took a picture of the sign (it's a close-up of what's shown in the first picture) believing I finally found a positive ID from a reputable source, the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Once I got home and searched A. kedongensis, I quickly realized this was not the correct ID for the aloe I wanted an ID. I grumbled at first that the botanical garden must have misplaced their sign. If you can't tell already, I have a general mistrust that most people can get things right. I worked in the editorial departments of a couple publishing companies and I even corrected the pre-employment proofreading test that one had been using for 25 years - according to my hiring bosses, nobody had ever caught the error in all that time. This is not to say that I don't make mistakes on a regular basis, both in factual and grammatical accuracy. Upon further inspection of the first photo, it's apparent that there are 2 species of aloes shown. In any case, I think I have finally found the proper ID for my hometown aloe.

with a swish of the tail

See my eastern gray squirrel post or Crappy Photo Blog for more information.

eastern gray squirrel ~ 12/25/10 ~ Golden Gate Park

eastern gray squirrel
Sciurus carolinensis

New followers of Nature ID may think I have a fondness for squirrels considering my several squirrel posts in the past few months; I don't particularly like these rodents. However, I think I've finally figured out how to distinguish between the different species of squirrels in California.

What caught my attention with the ones shown above were the shockingly white bellies. Close to home, Fatty, a California ground squirrel, and the eastern fox squirrel have definite buff colored bellies. I wasn't too surprised to find out while searching for an ID, that the eastern gray squirrel was introduced to San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties... it's no wonder I don't see them around home in Monterey County.

I was amazed at how tame this family of eastern grays were near the boathouse along the Stow Lake trail in Golden Gate Park. As I was attempting to take pictures in the dark lighting and rain, several people came by to feed these squirrels nuts and such. It looked like it was a regular routine of theirs, complete with ready sandwich baggies filled with squirrel food. One older couple complained to me that she was once bitten by a squirrel, so that they now toss their nuts out on the ground to avoid direct contact. I quietly chuckled as they walked away bickering like long-married couples so often do.

ps 08/28/11 - I should have mentioned there's also a native western gray squirrel (Sciurus griseus) that also has a white belly. From what I've gathered they tend to be grayer, larger, and shy compared to the easterns. The Nature of a Man blogger twice mentions how the eastern gray is taking over the western gray in CA.

pss 10/18/12 - Ken also has nice side-by-side pictures of the silvery western versus the browner eastern grays.

sunrise ~ 12/25/10 ~ San Francisco

sunrise looking over to downtown San Francisco
from Grandview Park
December 25, 2010

This picture was taken oddly enough from the Sunset District. As much as I love the diversity of people in San Francisco and the Bay Area, I'm not sure I'd like living there, er, with all the people and traffic. It's certainly a larger peninsula in many respects than where I live 2 hours south on the Monterey Peninsula. The green strip in the middle on the left of the photo above is Golden Gate Park.