Sabot L'ours (sabotlours) wrote,
Sabot L'ours
sabotlours

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Naturalist Bear

I learned a knew word on NPR yesterday morning, phenology. It's basically the study of the natural cycles of life. Mostly it's simple observations of nature around us and how things change over the year. I had been wanting to do something like that for years and use LJ as my recording place. I essentially do it now when I mention a particular bird/plant/animal showing up at Fur Central. I just haven't been as rigorous as I should be. I hope to change that and put down more of my observations. Hopefully it won't be too boring and in fact I hope it spurs some interest in the natural world.

I originally had the idea over a year ago to record the appearance of various wild flowers up on the mesa. I am not a botanist, and, in fact, find plants rather boring. I do notice, however, that there is a progression of plants as the seasons move along. I thought about this in the Fall of 2005 and made plans to start observing in Spring 2006. I even created a 2nd LJ, abq_west_mesa to record the observations. That journal eventually became a documentation of the slow death of the mesa caused by urban expansion. Unfortunately the Winter of 2005/2006 was one of the driest on record. In Spring there were almost no flowers. It stayed that way until the monsoons of 2006 which were some of the wettest on record. The desert exploded in flowers which I documented in this post. I didn't do any methodical recording of the plants, however, and so that turned out to be a bust. With a fairly decent snow season and nice Spring rains, the mesa has started to spring to life with various wild flowers. The other day I started to really concentrate on the various plants and flowers. I also had my camera so I captured some pics. I apologize for the somewhat poor quality of the pics since the auto-focus is really retarded on the camera.

I suppose the breakthrough for me happened as I was trying to identify a flower that was blooming all over the mesa slope in back of the house. I had my guide to Southwestern plants and animals and I was struggling to identify this plant that should be fairly common. It was everywhere! Why couldn't I find it?!? Suddenly the light went on when I saw "scorpionweed." It said that the flower resembles the curved tail of a scorpion. BINGO! I was just so thrilled! I actually identified a flower! I then spent hours trying to identify all of the other flowers I found the previous day. It was pretty tough, but I managed to identify more than half.

I plan on making regular posts from now on, documenting the things I observe. I should also start out in saying that I saw one of the coolest things since I started hiking up on the mesa 8 years ago. I was concentrating on flowers and just about missed a brown blur of a jackrabbit flying down the road at full throttle. Right in back of it was a coyote also running full tilt. I was utterly amazed at the speed of the yote. He was flying! I never saw the outcome of the chase as they both quickly disappeared over a rise. There was no time to snap a pic.

I should also mention that I saw the quail that maybe responsible for squawking for hours in the mornings. I was out on the patio trying to identify the flowers I found the other day when there was a loud "SQUAWK" from the back fence. I looked up and it was not a scaled quail, it was a Gambel's! The poor guy must be lonely since he's the only one around. This is only the 3rd time in 8 years that I have seen a Gambel's. I don't know where he came from. He must be just slummin' with his scaled cousins.



Desert Blazing Star


Desert Marigold


Desert Star


Freckled Milkvetch


Scorpionweed


Slender Blanketflower
Tags: natural history
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