That Was Then….

When we left Thousand Palms Oasis in the Coachella Valley Preserve on May 1st, this is what was happening under the palm trees…

A Cooper’s Hawk starts hanging around on the power wires outside of our RV. We named him Coop.

 audubon.org


A Long-Eared Owl stares back on the boardwalk.


Ginny, our Preserve Manager, rescues a barn owl near the boardwalk…


Peter Cottontail, outside of our RV… He visits us every evening after all the cars and people leave the parking lot.


Leapin’ Lizards! These guys love the warmer temperatures and hot sand.

Where’s the rest of my tail?

A desert iguana…

Zebra-tailed lizard…

This one does push-ups.

More desert iguanas. They love munching on creosote bush leaves.

A desert spiny lizard…

Jeff finds a rare leopard lizard.


A rattlesnake slithers through our campground.

Very cool!


Caterpillars munch on Brown-Eyed Primrose…

… before they turn into a White-Lined Sphinx Moth…

butterfliesandmoths.org (courtesy of Gary Walton)

…that flutters like a humming bird.

   butterfliesandmoths.org


An Arizona Blister Beetle lunches on Lupine.


The last of the super-bloom…

Brittlebush on the Pushawalla Trail…

Fiddleneck…

Cheesebush starts blooming.

desertwildflower.com (courtesy of S. Sampson)


Creosote explodes.


Mesquite fuzzes out in yellow.

Dyeweed blooms purple.

A pretty bush in shades of pink…

Mary, Frank, and I look for the last of the Desert Lilly and find it on the Smoke Tree Ranch trail.

Gilia…

White Rhatany and Skeleton Bush…

Woody Bottle-Washer…

Fremont Boxthorn…


Donna the Docent’s “portal to another world”…

Can you see it now?


Goodnight, moon…

Goodnight, Thousand Palms Oasis…

“Where Can I Go To See The Wildflowers?”

That is the Question…

… most asked by the constant stream of visitors coming and going on the Preserve.

Since most folks have never been here before and will probably never return, we recommend the signature trail to Simone Pond and back with a short detour to Vista Point before heading back.

However, less crowded and just as aesthetically appealing hikes are across the street. Both the Pushawalla Ridge and Wash Trails are lined with blooms and planted bouquets of color.

Today, however, Jeff and I explore the trail alongside Bee Mesa, parallel to Thousand Palms Canyon Road.

WOW!

Desert Rock-Pea…

Jeff and I think this is some kind of Sun Cup…

Nipple Cactus…

Gilia…

Skeleton…

White Phacelia…

Lavender…

Desert Dandelions… pure yellow

Five-Spots… unopened they look like rose buds

Desert Trumpet…

California Evening Primrose… a tall sparse plant with yellow flowers

A Painted Lady Butterfly resting on Pincushion…

The trail cuts through the super bloom field of yellows, purples, and whites… eye candy!

Desert Rock Daisies, White Phacelia, and Purple Phacelia…

A close up of White Phacelia…

Heartleaf Primrose…

More Gilia…

Purple Mat… a belly plant because you have to lie on your belly to get a good pic!

Broadleaf Gilia… beautiful, but sticky and stinky

Yellow Plumes


On our way back we run into our Preserve Manager, Ginny. She’s on a hillside pulling these invasive weeds…

en.m.wikipedia.org

Mediterranean Needle Grass or stipa capensis is native to the Persian Gulf and is an annual grass now found in the Coachella Valley of the Sonoran Desert. It is now becoming so widespread in the Palm Springs area that it is becoming a serious fire hazard to the California desert ecosystems. The sharp florets of the plant can injure animals and may attach to their fur as a dispersal mechanism, thus decreasing the abundance of native wildflowers. (cal-ipc.org)

So we start pulling these suckers and stashing them into trash bags which we carry out to the Pushawalla parking area for Ginny who will pick them up in her truck.

Upon returning to our RV we discover these sharp needles stuck in our shirts, shorts, socks, and shoes. So we carefully remove each one and properly throw them away instead of allowing them to disperse and propagate.

Desert Rains and Mountain Snow…

…Make the Wildflowers Bloom and Grow

Valentines Day 2019 brought rains and flash floods to the Coachella Valley.

  desertsun.com

desertsun.com

Cold temperatures dropped snow on the mountain tops… from San Jacinto to San Gorgonio to Joshua Tree…


February 21st

Harlan asks me to join him on a walk along the Indian Palms Trail. He is searching for an unknown wildflower he saw a few days ago and one that even stumped Ginny, our Preserve Manager. You betcha! Any walk with Harlan is a special treat.

We don’t find the whereabouts of the unknown wildflower, but I enjoy identifying the flowers I see with Harlan and capturing the threatening sky surrounding the valley.

California Evening Primrose…

Cheese Bush and something else I don’t know…

Pincushion…

Some type of Box Thorn? Not sure…

Indian Tobacco…


Later in the afternoon

Jeff and I walk along the McCallum Trail in search of Spectacle Pod. We spy with all 4 of our eyes…

Wild Heliotrope aka Phacelia Distans…

Also called Blue Phacelia, the flowers are a light lavender color.

Arrowweed blooming…

California Croton…

And a small patch of Spectacle Pod along the return loop from Moon Country back to the Visitor Center… It’s my new favorite wildflower!

Look at the leaves on the stem…

Sooooooo awesome and unusual!

I turn around and capture the field of wildflowers blooming on the Moon Country Trail.

On the way back we discover…

Lax-Flower…

Desert Velvet or “Turtle Back”…

And purple clouds over Simone Pond…

Wild About Wildflowers

And Harlan…

JANUARY 17TH

Harlan is our resident desert guru who has taken a hiatus from leading nature walks due to a flair up in his back. As he undergoes physical therapy, he is slowly getting back to his game. On this Thursday morning he asks me if I want to walk with him to Pushawalla to check out the wildflowers. You bet I do! I never turn down a chance to spend time learning and exploring with Harlan. Judith is the docent today in the Palm House and she is also excited to tag along. So Jeff takes care of the Visitor Center and Harlan, Judith, and I take off to view wildflowers.

Brown-Eyed Primrose

Chicory

Wishbone

Shaggy Mane Mushroom

Indian Tobacco

Wishbone… again

Not sure… Harlan is stumped about this one… Maybe more Desert Tobacco?

Fagonia

Notch-Leaved Phacelia and Rock Daisies

Cryptobiotic Crust

Also known as “desert glue”, this hidden layer of biotic organisms plays a vital role in desert health. They hold the place in place! Cyanobacteria in the desert form filaments surrounded by sheaths. These filaments become moist and active during rains, moving through the soil and leaving behind a trail of sticky sheath material. The sheaths stick to soil particles and form an intricate web of fibers which stabilize erosion-prone surfaces from wind and water. They not only protect the soil from blowing away but they also absorb precious rainfall and reduce flash flood runoff. They contribute nitrogen and organic matter to the desert. The boot of a hiker or the weight of a tire, however, can destroy these cryptobiotic crusts which take 5 to 7 years to return. (nps.org)

Chicory… again

Whispering Bells

A cool rock Judith and I really like!

Sand Verbena

Bladderpod


Quiz Time

Okay, I’ve been taking pictures of desert wildflowers for awhile now and identifying them in my journal posts. How many can you identify?

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Answers at end of blog…


January 26th

We wake up to an unpleasant surprise…

Yikes! More palm fronds have fallen from the same palm tree in front of the Visitor Center. Jeff and I live right behind the Palm House and sleep with our windows open, yet we heard no noise from such an incredible explosion!

I take pictures and send them to the Preserve Manager, Ginny. She tells us to leave them there while awaiting estimates to trim the skirts off the exploding palm tree. Dan and David secure the dangerous area with caution tape and orange cones.

Meanwhile, Harlan invites me on another wildflower walk. Jeff, Gregg, and Mary join us.

Quail Bush

Cryptantha or Popcorn,aka Forget-Me-Nots

Indian Tobacco

Cheesebush

Pigweed

London Rocket

Phacelia (Notched-Leaved)

Desert Dandelion… one is pollinated… which one?

Answer: The one on the right is pollinated. (No red dot in the middle)


Bonus Question: What plant is below the dandelions?

Answer: Primrose


Answer to Quiz:
1: cheesebush
2: wishbone
3: pygmy cedar
4: lupine
5: phacelia
6: primrose
7: whispering bells