|Welcome back. Ash-throated flycatchers fly up to the Western US to nest in cavities, often in manmade structures like fenceposts and telephone poles.|
Saturday morning when I heard a familiar chirp-trill from the maples trees, I popped out of bed and ran around the house announcing, "The ash-throated flycatchers are back! All the way from Costa Rica! Get up, get up! Greet the arrival of spring!" Like a pesky dog, I was sent outside where the flycatchers entertained me by chasing each other at high speeds around the farmyard with loud "weet" calls and flashing of tail feathers.
|Common fiddleneck, Amsinckia intermedia, 04/13/09. The tip of the flower stem curls like the neck of a fiddle.|
I didn’t really notice their absence all winter, but with the return of their familiar song, I am glad to see their cinnamon-trimmed ash and buttermilk bodies back in the neighborhood. In a few days, I'll be able to find their nest by just listening for their changing-of-the-guard call. One parent will whistle from a high branch which directs the other parent to shoot out of a nearby tree or fencepost, so the whistling parent can fly into the nest cavity to deliver food.
|Red maids, Caladrinia ciliata, with the flower bud closed. 04/11/11, Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve|
I don't know whether it is the weather, where I live, or if I have become more sensitive to patterns of the natural world, but it seems like spring is arriving at a hectic pace this year.
|Red maids, Caladrinia ciliata, with open flower, 04/08/12. Not usually aquatic, this plant was temporarily inundated during the sudden filling of a pond after a heavy rainstorm two weeks ago.|
Plants are announcing their own reproductive prowness with their presentation of spring wildflowers. At the Dipper Ranch, the first round of wildflowers are out: popcorn flowers, buttercups, redmaids, fiddleneck, and the ever present and cheerful California poppy.
|Can you guess which wildflower these seedlings will become? 04/07/12|
At warmer locations - farther south, lower elevations and rocky and sun-exposed slopes - the bloom will be further along with lupines, checkermallow, larkspurs, gilias, and clovers displaying.
|Douglas fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii, popping its bud cap, 04/08/12.|
|Let us in.|
|Showy linanthus, Leptosiphon (probably androsaceus), 04/23/12 on Woods Trail in Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve|
I will highlight 20 parks in our region to see wildflowers, and the best season and a few photos at each location. Many local wildflower enthusiasts have contributed their advice and photos to this presentation. This year (if I can stay ahead of the spring's plumbing problems), I hope to also share websites, blogs, books, events, and maybe even smartphone applications that can help you identify wildflowers. Come by and share your favorite wildflower information resource.
|I’m still a novice at using smartphones for natural history interpretation.|
In the meantime, here is the wildflower hotspots list from 2011with links to more detailed information.