Thursday, April 8, 2010

Black birds, barrels and butterflies

For the most part, the desert seems to be a pretty barren place.  When one thinks of the desert, usually one thinks of drifting dunes, camels and not much life.  Contrary to what people think about deserts, California's desert has a high degree of life.  Plant life, though scattered is plentiful.  Cactus are around and there are animals, be they elusive.

Sometimes the animals almost come to you, usually it's the flying animals, the butterflies and birds.  On a hike in the desert recently, we spotted a raven on top of a Joshua Tree.  Actually, we heard it first, probably angry at us for intruding upon its territory.  We spotted it, then immediately, noticed a second call.  I thought that the second one would also alight on the Joshua Tree, but the first took off quickly after the second and they soared across the desert floor together, looking for another place away from the intruders.

Springtime brings out the flowers in the desert.  Driving north this weekend, we saw the wildflowers on the hillside in full color.  This was not the desert per sé, but I'm sure the desert this weekend would be in similar fashion.  When we'd been out in the desert a couple of weeks ago, the flowers had just been about two or three weeks from being in full splendor.  Several barrel cactus would have been especially pretty with a ring of flowers around each barrel.

In late afternoon, we spotted a butterfly looking for a place to bed down for the night.  There was a slight breeze which probably hampered its ability to find a suitable spot to grab hold for the evening.  I enjoy watching butterflies and will, if given the chance, take pictures of almost any butterfly that will pause for even a moment on a nearby branch.  The coloring on this butterfly was a little different than what I'd seen in the past, so I was naturally excited about taking a picture.

Once if finally settled down and found a branch, we approached it cautiously, for fear of disturbing it and having it fly away.  It appeared that it definitely wanted to bed down for the night as it had its wings closed up tight.  I got a couple of pictures of it, but it wasn't going to show us the top part of its wings which would make identification difficult, even with the glimpses that we'd gotten while it was flitting about.

Still, after looking at the pictures, I was pretty sure we'd seen a Desert Marble Butterfly of the genus Euchloe lotta, but it could also be a California Marble.  As noted above, there is some uncertainty because it wouldn't cooperate with us and show us the top part of its wings, but that's sometimes the way it is in the real world.

Pictures were taken at or near the following geocaches:
Groundspeak Series - Stealth - by HDGC
Groundspeak Series - Lifeline - by HDGC

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