December 16, 2014

Evening Grosbeaks in Big Bear

Merriam-Webster: "part translation of French grosbec, from gros thick + bec beak."
As always, click to embiggen.

I HAVE NEVER SEEN ONE. They better stick around for a while, is all I can say. Lance Benner recorded their flight calls last week: check out his recording on Xeno-canto. At last report there were 20 - 25 of them continuing south and west of the Big Bear Lake City Hall/Civic Center. Look up in the treetops. Did I mention that bears are occasionally spotted along Metcalf Creek? Anyhow, it's beautiful country — and now that the ski resorts are open, traffic will be nuts. Drive safe.

Photo by Cephas: Source

December 13, 2014

While I was sweeping

Joesph's Coat, a variety of Opuntia monacantha. A friend gave me the (spineless, glochid-free) pad — thanks, Kim! 

New growth! No words for how beautiful everything is this morning, under a blue sky after yesterday's desperately needed rain. The mountaintops are white — friends in Big Bear called to say they have over a foot of snow. 

Birds everywhere: Pine Siskins, Lesser and American Goldfinches, Bewick's and House Wrens, Anna's Hummingbirds, a friendly Oak Titmouse, and yesterday in the rain, the biggest Cooper's Hawk I've ever seen. The hummingbirds perch on the big agave spines and vibrate, fierce, territorial, iridescent. Scrub Jays, woodpeckers... everyone is busy, your servant with the broom, Jasper with the dustpan. I really have to make a video of Jasper fetching the dustpan.

My favorite cactus in the garden is a Black-spined Opuntia, Opuntia macrocentra, that I like to think of as a rescue. Here he was at the nursery, all scale and black widows.

Leave him in those containers, they said. Just throw the whole thing in a bigger pot, they said.

Sorry, nursery lady! He got VIP treatment, and pride of place, and I love him.

This afternoon I'm going to buy a small pomegranate tree for a giant pot — such a beautiful day.