Sunday, May 22, 2011

Desert Flowers and an Unexpected Sight at the End

I'm always looking for new (to me) flowers to put on my A Plant a Day blog. So when I took Desert Boy out to preschool last week, we went for a long walk/jog (a little training for a triathlon I might blog about soon). We had walked much of the same route two weeks earlier, but many of the flowers had changed. That's one of the challenges of finding all the plants in an areas--some aren't particularly visible for more than a week or two every few years.

The pink penstemon above is a common one, a young Palmer's penstemon (Penstemon palmeri), one of only two pink ones in the area. Even though it isn't new to me, I sure enjoy seeing it again!

 I went on a different road and climbed up on this rocky hillside, where I got a nice view of the valley and cloud-shrouded mountains on the other side.

 One of the many flower species on it were these dancing yellows, called nakedstem sunray (Enceliopsis nudicaulis). I enjoyed seeing them--they brightened the desert hillside so much!
They are just little bundles of sunshine.

 I saw this plant as I went skipping down the hill. It looks a bit like out of a Dr. Seuss book, but only a couple weeks earlier, it had nice little flowers on it that you can see on the Shockley's rockcress page.

 This tiny plant, only about 3 inches high, is called browneyes. It blooms more at night than the day, so I was glad it was overcast so I could see more of it blooming.

 I also found lots of Cryptantha, a genus in the Borage Family well represented in this area. From a distance it doesn't look too impressive.

 Close up, I was amazed at how many hairs protect each little white flower.

Our walk continued, with Desert Girl saying hi to the curious cows at the dairy, Henry wanting to chase after stray cats, and then to a fork in the road. I had a little time left before Desert Boy finished preschool, so we took the longer route.

 The playa that is usually dry was full of water, with some shrubs submerged. This wet spring has certainly been a nice change.

The flooded playa seemed a little boring, until I noticed something moving about on the other end:

Birds! An ibis, American avocets, and a couple ducks were probing for food. It was a wonderful treat to get to see them in an unexpected place.


trav4adventures said...

It's always interesting to see the plants and animals in the desert! I go for a morning walk out by a golf course. I've seen ravens, coyotes, hawks, egrets, migrating birds, cottontails, and huge jackrabbits.

phil said...

Most people don't know about the beauty of t he desert. All it needs is a little rain and it blooms. Living in the high desert all winter has been a real pleasure for Ellen and I.

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