Saturday, February 27, 2010

Jonquils or Daffodills?

Jonquil's or Daffodil's, this is the question....

I began to ponder this dilemma after seeing the differentiation between these two horticultural beauties over at Ol' Western Gal's site called Banner Haus News. While she did not provide photos, she was referencing their eminent blooming. This got me a-wondering.

I always thought these names were interchangeable but I was WRONG. Being the botanist I claim I am, I have to admit that I do not always pay the closest attention to horticultural varietals. I really specialize in "wild" plants. However, with dozens of "daffodils" blooming in our yard I perked up and thought I'd better straighten out my vocabulary and get the right definition for these flowers.

I actually looked this up. Cause, I know ya'll really wanted to know this stuff... (OK I really wanted to know and decided to post it as a special treat. Hee hee...)

Below we have Jonquils. They are separated from daffodils by presence of multiple flowers per inflorescence. See the abundance of mini stems emerging from one central stem...

These flowers below are Daffodils. They are characterized by one flower per stem...

Big showy varieties...

My favorite mini-daffs.

New Daffs with multiple petals. These were quite a surprise. A good surprise!

Now I just had to throw in the Camellias that are blooming in Suzi's yard. They are equally stunning and brief in their appearance. One must enjoy while they are present!!

That's enough botany for the moment. I could go on but there is only so much I will torture folks with...

Bye for now.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Burgeoning leaves begin peeking from the tips of naked branches in hope of sunlight to warm the epidermis and start the photosynthetic cycle again.

Burgeoning flower buds unfold from their dormancy waiting for that special insect to visit.

Burgeoning tadpoles with little, black, round-shaped bodies hint at the life form they will later become.

Burgeoning Sharpie-horse bursts with stored energy that winter's confinement creates.

Burgeoning with enthusiasm, Gemma thinks she can touch the clouds.

And race like the wind.

Not so burgeoning, Ella crawls backward on the evolutionary tree, sliding her body off the chair in strange and fascinating ways. This is the preferred method for eating one's lunch...

Or not...

Ella had to be extracted from this location by MOI, complete with tears and screaming. She is banned from this dining location from here on out!!!!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Newbies

Give a warm welcome to the newest members of our family who were laid about two weeks ago. They are not warm and fuzzy. They are not pretty or cute. They are not adorable...YET. Just wait. When the baby's emerge from the pond I guarantee that you will utter a big "Aaawww...."

No, they are not worms.

What species are you thinking???

I am sure this is no help and some of you are all, "Ewe and ick!!!!" Suck it up and be a biologist for just a second ladies (and gents).

Now here's a close up of the eggs. These are amphibians. Warty amphibians...

These are western toad (Bufo boreas) eggs.

I pulled these eggs from the seasonal drainage that runs through our property. The creek drys out and will not be inundated long enough to support the full development of tadpoles to adults. From here they enter the pond which I will fill with water throughout their development.

After they emerge from their slime tube they look like this in their larval stage. Their little tails are visible and they hug the bottom of the pond sucking algae and microscopic stuff.

Now for the "evil guy" music....

I found these creatures living in my pond after the first storm. They are bull frogs... NON-NATIVE species which EAT native tadpoles and frogs. They grow to preposterous sizes consuming all in their path, leaving a wake of destruction.

They look all cute with their beady eyes and pretty green patterns BUT they are major predators who have been responsible for the decimation of native species, pushing some, like the red-legged frog, to the brink of extinction.

(Just to clarify...bull frogs are native to the eastern US so don't go hating on your native frogs east of the Rockies. They just disturb the western ecosystems.)

Thus they must be removed and taken care of. In a Mafia kind of way. Hmmm, I guess I could always have some frog legs for dinner. I had one in my net last night and he JUMPED out!! How dare he!!! I will get these before they have a chance to reproduce.

And when the western toad babies can swim freely without the threat of being eaten by a bull frog, the rainbows will arc across the sky and tones of Vivaldi will float over our property.

Well maybe not, but at least I know I've done something to perpetuate the regeneration of native toad species in our area. So many wetlands have been lost to development and it is harder for these amphibians to reproduce and survive in our man-influenced environment.

Every little bit helps.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wow for Wordless Wednesday

Okay, maybe not wordless.

I am in the field for work this week and am sneaking in some pictures of the scenery. It is amazing. I entered "the canyon" and immediately my eyes were popping with the incredible views.

Fluffy white clouds above the mountains drifted by effortlessly like feathers floating on an eternal breeze.

Steep, dramatic peaks with sharp ridges and swooping saddles were eye candy for my starved vision.

Barns from antiquity could provide shelter from storms while allow visions of stars.

And the view from another angle was not disappointing.

And this was...

My favorite shot of the day...

I'll be back soon and need to catch up on my blog reading! Bye for now...

Friday, February 5, 2010

The State of Our Chicken Nation

Sorry, the mystery animals have declined to be on display until next week. They are fickle that way. But instead I have something else to show and tell.

I can always rely on the CHICKENS to provide some good entertainment on our little property.

Well, it has happened again. That is the round up and lock down of our chickens.

They enjoy a free range existence during the fall and winter months and usually get to frolic where ever they please, BUT the warden has spoken. The fowl have been found guilty and confined to their chicken pen for the following offenses:

1. Rototilling our meager landscaping with their miniature bladed feet.
2. Pooping on my deck.

See here?

3. Eating the cat food.
4. Ripping up the weed matting from my landscaped areas.
5. Pooping on Suzi's patio.
6. Eating the cat food.
7. Laying eggs in unusual places.

8. Hiding.
9. Eating the cat food.
10. Clucking and crowing beneath my bedroom window.
11. Killing my seedling plants.
12. Eating the cat food.
13. Intimidating the cats.

You see, they've even taken to swarming the cats when it suits them...

But as always, turn around is fair play.

14. Allowing ones self to be caught and eaten by a great horned owl. (One of my favorite birds came up missing. There has been a lot of hooting happening at night so I am drawing my own conclusions here about the missing bird.)

I am not holding anything against them, obviously. You see they are a roaming pack of marauding peckers who have nothing on their mind but partying and destruction. I'd hate to see what they do to hotel room.

But we had to draw the line in the sand and reclaim what is rightfully ours. These birds are a guilty flock of foul fowl. So slam the door and throw away the keys on the Chicken Nation. There!

The Day the Swallows Came Home

The tree swallows are here already.  They arrived January 30 much to my dismay.  Swooping and calling and chirping their merry song over my ...