portfolio: Death Valley flower show — 31 Mar 2005
all photos & text by Don Roberson,
Photos taken in Death Valley National Park, Inyo Co., 31 Mar 2005:
all photos taken in California
Rita and I drove out to Death Valley to see the wild flower
show, and found there was yet another "spectacle of nature" underway. Warm
weather after cool rains had spawned an immense flight of Painted Lady
butterflies (Vanessa cardui) northward from Mexico and southern
California. They were moving across the desert and Central Valley in the
millions. It was impossible not to 'paint' a canvas of Painted Ladies on
the windshield (right). According to Bob Stewart's Common Butterflies
of California (1997), this migration occurs at this time every year,
but usually not in such multitudes.
The wildflowers were, indeed, another spectacle of nature. Here
am I in a field of mostly Desert Gold Geraea canescens near Ashford
Mill in the south end of Death Valley [photo © Rita Carratello; all
flower i.d.s from the Death Valley National Park web site]. The snow-capped
Panamints form the backdrop.
Below are blooms of beavertail cactus Opuntia basilaris and
Desert Five-Spot Eremalche rotundifolia
Orange globes of Toothed Dodder Guscuta denticulata (left) stretch
across alluvial gullies above Jubilee Pass (left) or form a riotous foreground,
with Desert Chicory Rafinesquia neomexicana and Bigelow Coreopsis
bigelovii (above). But it is most impressive, I thought, when used
as a background for a male Black-throated Sparrow (below)
Although we are birders and not botanists, one could not
help but be impressed with this show. The greatest diversity seemed to
be along the road over Salsberry Pass at the southern end of Death Valley
National Park. Here (right) Rita works on Bigelow Coreopsis and Desert
Chicory. Any who stops and pulls off the road starts a "flower jam" with
dozens of other carloads of tourists stopping to see what you've found.
It was just like the "bear jams" in Yellowstone!
||In this view of Salsberry Pass (left), a Golden Evening Primrose Cammisonia
brevipes dominates the scene
|Since this was a 'spectacle of nature' type of trip, lets throw in
a shot of the snowy east side of the Sierra Nevada (right; from near Tinemaha
Reservoir INY), and also finish off with a view of Mono Lake (below).
See the family page for county abbreviations. All photos © 2005
Don Roberson; all rights reserved.
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