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Old Mar 21, 2010, 11:42 PM   #1
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Default Wildflowers and Spring

Spring might be here officially, but there's not a lot of wildflowers around yet. I did manage to find some lupine, 2 different types.

My first stop was to a mountainside that's off of a Forest Service dirt road. It's definitely off-the-beaten track, but often has flowers before many other places. There were a few poppies blooming, and this one had attracted an insect of some sort. I didn't actually see him until I looked at the picture on the monitor, because he's so coated with pollen.



The spring blooming season has just started, you can see a baby lupine on the left of this picture:



There are several different varieties of lupine in our area. I have no idea what they are all called, but I can spot the difference between the two different types I saw yesterday. This one grows up at higher elevations and is just now starting to bloom.



I also drove around at lower elevations, since there wasn't much blooming higher up. I found a very nice bunch of a different type of lupine.



This kind only has two colors - it doesn't have the dark purple alternating with the white.



The markings on the white are different, too.



I haven't been doing a lot of macro or manual focusing recently, so I was out of practice. I'm going to have to check on the dioper adjustment on the camera as it seemed like I missed the focus on more than I usually do.



I have no idea what this flower is, but it's quite small. I tried to take one closer up but it was breezy and just as I would have the flower filling the frame a puff of wind would blow it and I'd cut off the petals. Very frustrating!



The foothills are incredibly green, something that happens only for a couple of weeks a year. The rest of the time they are very brown.







It was also very warm - I had a long sleeved shirt on and was too hot to be walking very far. It also meant that various reptiles were out, I saw a large number of lizards in this area, one that I knew about but never explored before. I was enjoying the unusual view around me so much that I wasn't watching where I was putting my feet. All of a sudden I heard a loud sort-of hiss/rattle close to my feet. I leaped backward and then pulled out the camera to take a couple of frames of this fellow departing the scene.



What was interesting is that he put his head in the grass, but left his tail exposed for a while, before sliding off into the grass completely. It was a definite wake-up call, and I was careful to watch where I was walking after that. Rattlesnake venom might not always kill you (I think the statistics is 10%) but it will make you really, really sick and I was a long way from medical help.
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Old Mar 22, 2010, 2:06 AM   #2
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Very nice, I hope to see some flowers around here in a month or so.

If I was taking photos where there were Rattle snakes, I expect I would be packing a golf club or walking stick of some sort just in case.

Tom
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Old Mar 22, 2010, 2:38 AM   #3
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I really like photo's 3,6, & 7. I bet you that rattle snake got your heart pumping. Years ago I was at Johnson shutins in MO. It was right around sunset and I was waist high in the river trying to work a shot. My eye was in the VF when someone yelled snake. I looked around and spotted a cotton mouth swiming right towards me. A rattle snake will try to get away on most occasions, cotton mouths on the other hand can be aggresive little creatures. When the snake was within 15 feet of me, I picked the tripod up out of the water and held it in front of my body, so that the legs were facing in the snakes direction. When the snake was within a few feet of my tripod legs I started to move the tripod in an up and down motion trying to deviate the snake from his path which was me. It did not work. The evil little creature attacked and bit my tripod leg. After the attack the snake made a quick left turn and went towards some granite boulders about 30 feet from my location. Talking about a head rush.
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Old Mar 22, 2010, 6:52 AM   #4
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Harriet - A wonderful springtime walk, and so well illustrated. All are great! Great capture of the tiny insect in the poppy, and wonderful use of DOF in #5. Also glad you (& snake) are both OK and unbitten. Must agree with Ancientritual - rattlesnakes usually work to avoid confrontation, but not cottonmouths!
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Old Mar 22, 2010, 10:14 AM   #5
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Really a nice selection, Harriet. I really like the proportions in #6 and the composition on #9 is just beautiful. As far as the rattler....NO, THANKS!

Paul
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Old Mar 22, 2010, 11:14 AM   #6
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Thanks for the compliments. It wasn't all that much of a walk - it was more of a SoCal drive through the "local" area (California is a strange place, where 50 miles is considered close or local). I covered around 200 miles total, not all of it on paved roads.

I really should be more careful about the rattlers. I'm well aware that they are shy and will actively avoid you, warning you off if you come too close (like the one above did). I see them on occasion, often enough that I tend to take them for granted and I shouldn't. A number of years ago I was hiking with a dog that got a rather glancing bite. It was a Golden who was about a year old and he was miserable for almost 2 weeks, so I know how dangerous they can be.

I'm just glad that we DON'T have cottonmouths around!

Paul - the 9th one is interesting to me on a couple of levels. First, the green is so unusual for here. Second, it's interesting to see the topography reflected in the colors - the lighter green grass is on slopes facing (more or less) south-southwest. They get lots of sun, while the darker colored slopes don't get as much sun (and probably stay a bit cooler) and are covered with chaparral/brush. Finally, it's such a typical scene for the SoCal mountains. They aren't pretty in the same way that the eastern mountains with their deciduous trees are, they tend to be very stark, and steeply rugged but they have their own beauty in a way.
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Old Mar 22, 2010, 12:19 PM   #7
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Love the shots of the lupins. They grow in abundance back home in Nova Scotia as well as New Brunswick and Maine. In fact, the best fields of lupins tend to be alongside the highways and in the grass medians. Lots of different colours as well. Seeing them makes me a bit homesick.

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Old Mar 22, 2010, 2:26 PM   #8
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Nice job on the photos Harriet,
Please tell me you have a snake kit in your bag or on your person!
or at least don't go off on these hikes by yourself. I don't want to read about you in the paper one day.
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Old Mar 22, 2010, 6:50 PM   #9
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They've changed the thought about how to treat snake bites from what it was 20 years ago, the old fashioned snake bite kit has gone away (where you cut across the bite and tried to suck out the venom - the cuts often caused more damage than the venom did). I do carry a small first aid kit with me when I'm out hiking and always wear a belt so I can use it as a constriction device.

OK, GW - I won't tell you that I go off alone on these off-roading/hiking excursions.
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Old Mar 22, 2010, 7:17 PM   #10
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These are just gorgeous pics, Harriet. I love the wildflowers, but I'm especially taken by your picture of the lush green foothills. I've never had the priviledge of seeing the foothills of Southern California, but that pic perfectly portrays what I imagine. It's an amazing contrast from the photo you posted some time last summer of a parched brown landscape with a ribbon of blue water channel slicing through it. I also love the way you eliminated any horizon except for the tiny little V where the two ridgelines cross. as Bluenose mentioned, there are many miles of highways throughout the northeastern US and Canadian Provinces that are lined by lupine, but in this area, they won't be blooming until June.

Oh, and please be careful about those rattlers. It's true that they tend to avoid people, and even if someone is bitten, their venom is very rarely fatal to a healthy adult, but still, caution is warranted. We need you to keep inspiring us with your superb work.
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