Archivos de diario de mayo 2024

21 de mayo de 2024

Backyard Wildflowers

These huge cumulous clouds caught my attention this evening, so I decided to get out to take some photos of them. My apartment complex is backed up against some bluffs where lots of scrub oak grow and create great habitat for birds, mule deer, rabbits, and other wildlife. We are approaching the part of the year where the Front Range will experience thunderstorms and rain most afternoons. These usually begin with dramatic cloudscapes such as this, with anvil shaped thunder heads. Then the sky gets very dark, there is typically a lot of lightening and thunder, and if it ends before sunset, the sunset will be very dramatic with the residual clouds leftover from the storm.

Now that we have been getting some rain, the area is greening up: leaves are sprouting out on the scrub oak, the grass is getting taller, and wildflowers are sprouting out. Prairie pasqueflowers seem to be some of the first wildflowers to show themselves in the springtime, although I haven't actually seen any myself this year so far (although I've noticed plenty of sightings of these flowers from others on iNaturalist this spring).

One of the things I enjoy about iNaturalist is that I've been able to use it to slowly learn the different types of wildflowers around the state. And although I think that the photo recognition software that iNaturalist uses is very cool, I think it's still an important skill to learn how to identify without an algorithm. One way I like to learn the flowers is by taking photos of the wildflowers on iNaturalist, then going back with a guidebook to identify them. Doing this - actively looking images up in a physical guidebook, seems to help me remember the different species better. Wildflowers of Colorado Field Guide by Don Mammoser with Stan Tekiela is the guidebook that I like to use because it organizes by color, which is what I notice first about these wildflowers.

When you start to learn the different types of plants in an area, you suddenly see differences in plants everywhere, even if you don't know the names of the species you are looking at. You begin to notice things like leaf shape and arrangement, color, flower type, etc. These photos are living proof of the sheer diversity of angiosperms, and this is only in a small area of central Colorado.

And then you get flowers like this (below): members of the genus Erigeron. There are so many of them, and they all look so similar, that I don't usually bother trying to differentiate. When I was a field tech, identifying Erigeron flowers was the bane of our existence because it was sometimes near impossible to differentiate between species. They all just look like daisies.

Publicado el mayo 21, 2024 05:06 MAÑANA por mhughes26 mhughes26 | 9 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

25 de mayo de 2024

Castlewood Canyon State Park 4-23-2024

Had the day off from work so I went to Castlewood Canyon State Park. This may be the one outdoor place that I know better than any other. Like the back of my hand you could say. Growing up it was always the closest state park, so I would come here with family, school, and later with friends or just by myself.

This time I went by myself and hiked around the rim of the canyon, a round trip hike that takes me roughly 2-3 hours.

There were lots of wildlife and wildflower sightings this entire hike. The rain we have been getting lately is evident in the greenery that has taken over the entire park. Wildflowers I saw included bluebells, Larkspur, arnica, golden pea (or bean, according to iNaturalist taxonomic definitions), strawberries and raspberries, penstemon, cinquefoils, and skullcaps.

The trees in Castlewood Canyon are mostly gymnosperms - Ponderosa pine, juniper, etc. But there are also willows by the creek, cottonwood trees, and in at least on portion of the canyon, a grove of aspen trees.

Animals are also very active in the park right now. In addition to wild turkeys and mule deer, I saw several prairie lizards. Looking back through past observations, it looks like my prairie lizard sightings are all between April and August, although I did see a dead one in Fort Collins in January a few years ago - maybe came above ground too early and froze to death?

Lots and lots of birds as well. I saw many spotted towhees (they flew away too fast for me to get any good pictures), turkey vultures, and ravens. And a gnatcatcher, I think. At least that's what the audio recording leads me and another iNatter to believe.

I might start recording all my visits to Castlewood Canyon SP in journal posts so that I can start building a journal record of the plants and animals I see throughout the year and over many years. And also things like how green the park appears to be throughout the year, and how the water level in Cherry Creek looks.

Publicado el mayo 25, 2024 12:51 MAÑANA por mhughes26 mhughes26 | 13 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario