Thursday, October 23, 2014

sunrise ~ 10/23/14 ~ at home

sunrise from home
October 23, 2014

It's been a while since we've had a stop-in-your-tracks-and-stare kind of sunrise like this.  I believe the intense color was helped along by the particulate matter in the air that was left over from huge fire they had in Gilroy yesterday morning.  I could see the smoke plume from across the Monterey Bay.  Thankfully, it wasn't a wildfire.  Late October is the time of year I consider the start of sunrise season.  Is there a season for sunrises?  Sure.  Why not?  Of course, sunrises happen every day, but to get color, amazing color and contrast and clouds, autumn, winter, and spring skies are the ticket in our Mediterranean climate.  Around here, it goes all the way through to April (if my blog's sunrise pics speak to any pattern).  Sigh.  I can hardly wait for the rain.

ps 10/25/14 - It rained this Saturday morning.  Yay!  The last time it rained was exactly one month ago on 09/25/14, also in the morning.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

common heliotrope ~ 10/15/14 ~ Cooper Molera Garden

common heliotrope / cherry pie plant
Heliotropium arborescens (aka Heliotropium peruvianum)

Thanks to Nature of a Man, I now have the ID of this fragrant shrub that I've been admiring for years.  Years!  It surprises me that online descriptions say it smells like vanilla or freshly baked cherry pie. Mmm, maybe it has some vanilla notes, but not the fake candle stuff.  I can't say I know from experience what freshly baked cherry pie smells like, and I'm at a loss for words to adequately describe its heavenly scent.  I just know I like it.  I want it for my dream garden.

I double-checked the Cooper Store's index-carded photos, which were made in 1995, and this common heliotrope is not included.  Most of the Garden's plants were apparently installed in 1987-1988 to add to the existing historic roses and fruit trees.  I figure this bush was planted sometime after the cards were made.  My guess is this variety might hail from San Marcos Growers (linked in the scientific name above - they have a good, thorough description) because of its unusually large 6 ft. tall bushy shape.  Most of the common heliotropes I found online are shorter with deep purple flowers and darker leaves.  It's funny how garden plants seem to go in and out of fashion.  I prefer this lighter and airer shrub.  It's a total butterfly, bee, and lazy lepidopterist magnet.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

gray hairstreak ~ 10/08/14 ~ Cooper Molera Garden

female gray hairstreak nectaring/mud-puddling on blue passion flower
female Strymon melinus pudica nectaring/mud-puddling on Passiflora caerulea

edited 10/29/14 - Honestly, I don't know how to label this activity.  Nectaring or mud-puddling? Drinking?  Her proboscis is obviously extended and in use on the flower in the first photo, but that's not where the nectar is located on the passion flower.  And, it's commonly reported that only males engage in mud-puddling to produce a nuptial gift (except female CA sisters).  Btw, mud-puddling is not limited to mud puddles.  Butterflies can get nutrients from sweat and poo, too, basically any moisture with salts and amino acids.  No kidding, hence why I've been preoccupied with poo, lately.  I have yet to witness this activity in person, and I'd love to.  I believe any moisture with sugars, even fruits and sap, constitutes nectaring.  I could be wrong; definitions seems so arbitrary sometimes.  Is the sepal sweet or salty?  Oh, to be a butterfly and taste with your feet!  I know she's a female, because her abdomen top is gray; males are orange. 

As a side note, Butterflies of Orange County states the females have "reddish" abdomens.  This is incorrect.  Other than a handful of errors to keep an eye on, UC Irvine's site is a relatively decent local resource for butterflies, of which there are not that many good ones that don't just steal information from printed books.

wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

west coast lady ~ 10/01/14 ~ Cooper Molera Garden


I've seen a fair number of west coast ladies this unusually warm coastal summer, but only here in town since I'm rarely out in the field late enough in the afternoon to see these beauties.  When I decided to pursue studying butterflies this year, Andy made a request early on that I be home for dinner if at all possible.  Eating dinner together is important to us, and he used to bring me take-out when I worked late at the office.  The nice thing now is he doesn't mind cooking if I'm too pooped out from a day of hiking.  It may seem old-fashioned, but it works for us.

Usually, I'll spot the west coast ladies swirling-flirting with their more numerous and bossy cousins, the red admirals, around tall west-facing backdrops, be it trees or buildings.  This particular spot in the Cooper Molera Garden is great for seeing all kinds of butterflies because of the south-sided warmth of the surrounding historic buildings and this pleasantly scented garden bush.  The flowers look to me like a cross between heliotropes and fiddlenecks, but the soft leaves and huge bushy shape throw me.  The volunteer-run Cooper Store has several handfuls of index-carded photos of the plants in the garden with their IDs.  The next time I'm in, I'll try to remember to look-up this garden plant.

ps 10/15/14 - Thanks to Ken's comments, I now have an ID and corrected the above.

wordless Wednesday