Saturday, August 17, 2019

Spanish Bayonet

You do not have to walk far into the local mountains to see one of these.  The bright flowers on these Spanish Bayonets stand out against the generally brown-green landscape.   It takes five years to produce a mature plant that flowers like this.  After flowering, the plant dies. These photos were taken on my hike a couple weeks ago through Eaton Canyon up to Henniger Flats.

The plant goes by many names -- Spanish Bayonet, Our Lord's Candle, Foothill Yucca and Quixote Yucca and Chaparral Yucca -- all of which make sense when you see the plant.   The botanical name, Hesperoyucca Whipplei, needs explanation.

The species is named after Ameil Weeks Whipple.   An Army engineer, in 1856, Whipple was ordered to lead an expedition from Little Rock, Arkansas to Los Angeles to plot a railroad route along the southern part of the country.  Whipple surveyed a route that that traversed Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, which route was later used for the famous Route 66.  After his expedition, Whipple surveyed the Mexico-US border and then worked to improve naval navigation through New Orleans and the Great Lakes.   When the Civil War started in 1861, engineer Whipple created maps that guided Union forces into battle and provided Union generals reconnaissance by going up in hot air balloons that floated across Confederate lines. He also fought in the battles of Fredricksburg and Chancellorsville, where he was mortally wounded by a Confederate sharpshooter.   He died in 1863 with the rank of Major General. He was 44 years old.      

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Bears in Trees

Living toward the north east end of the City, we see bears in the neighborhood.  Occasionally, they will be in trees.  The first bear we saw here was in  a tree, having been chased up the tree by our dog.  Since then, we have seen more bears in neighborhood trees.   This weekend, we saw another bear in a tree.    Here, the bear is starting to climb up a vertical trunk of a pine tree.

Here is the bear further up the tree.   Hard to see him from here.    But, if you zoom in....

There's the bear.  Kind of looks like the bear is growing out of the tree.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Snow in East Pasadena

Snow in Pasadena?   Didn't last long, but that is what it was.    You need to enlarge the video to get the full effect.   

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Palm Tree, Power Lines and Eucalyptus

Through the trees and wires last night at sunset.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Henninger Flats Hike from Eaton Canyon

 This morning I walked into the Eaton Canyon Natural Area and just kept going.    I walked through the parking lot, around the native garden, on to the wide trail that leads down to Eaton Wash, then on to the steep Walnut Canyon trail which leads to the Mt. Wilson toll road and on up to Henninger Flats.

This is the view from Henninger Flats.  The view is expansive.  If you enlarge the photo, you can see St. Lukes in the foreground, downtown Pasadena and downtown LA at the middle left and if you look hard toward the center of the photo there are the vague outlines of Catalina Island with its two conical hills.   Directly westward, toward Santa Monica, you can see the Pacific Ocean.

 The Mt. Wilson toll road dates back to 1891.    All the way up the road, you can look down the mountain to see tiny cars traversing the streets below.   I thought this contrast was interesting -- the old dirt toll road on the left somewhat paralleling the shining sliver of 210 freeway down below.  The freeway is the white line toward the upper right of the photo.

Though not an easy hike, I crossed paths with many other hikers, some runners and a few mountain bikers.   Here's a mountain biker making his way up the trail in the face of the morning sun.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Mountains on a Fall Morning

Fall is here.  No, we don't have biting cold weather or crimson leaves lining our streets.   But, we have the San Gabriel Mountains.  It is a constant in the San Gabriel Valley -- always the backdrop of the mountains.    And, early on an October morning, the air a cool low-60's, sometimes the clouds will bank against the mountains and mingle with the sun to frame a wonderful mountain vista.   The photo above was taken driving north on New York Avenue, just above Sierra Madre Blvd.     Photo by my favorite photographer.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Bobcats and Rabbits

 I was surprised early today to see this bobcat.  It may be the same one I saw in June, or possibly a different one.  Either way, I watched as this cat walked the very same route as the one in June --  across our yard, jumped up on the fence and then disappeared into the neighbor's yard.   I got a better look this morning and these truly are beautiful animals.    There is an excellent up close photo of a local bobcat at the Eaton Canyon Nature Center site.

Here's a diagram from the National Park's Santa Monica Mountains site showing the relative size and color differences of a mountain lion, bobcat and house cat:

As you can see from the photo, bobcats are about twice the size of domestic cats and much smaller than mountain lions.  Here are some interesting area bobcat facts courtesy of the Santa Monica Mountains site and Urban Carnivores:  

Bobcats are found through out the continental US, most of Mexico and some of southern Canada.  The average bobcat tips the scales at about 18 pounds.   They are primarily nocturnal and the best times to see them are early morning or dusk.    Bobcats are solitary and territorial with males marking a territory of about 3 square miles and females with territories of 1.5 square miles that overlap with males' territories.   For reference, a square mile is 640 acres, so these cats cover a lot of ground.   Bobcats are adaptable and can live on the urban edge, provided they find food.

Which brings us to the bobcat diet.   They're carnivores and eat the prey they catch.    That prey can be birds, lizards, squirrels, gophers, rats, or any small animal.   But, the primary prey and primary food for bobcats are rabbits.   Perhaps not so coincidentally, just this summer I have started seeing more and more rabbits scurrying about the neighborhood, including this one: