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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Busy Beavers in Nevada?

 An unexpected jackpot can be found in the
desert of Nevada...

In Lamoille Canyon in the mountains outside of Elko...
 the temperature drops 20 degrees as you climb
into the mountains.

Someone's been busy changing the landscape.


A beaver dam across the stream -

- can flood a canyon floor and make a beautiful
break from the desert!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Yellowstone Bison Jam

Yellowstone National Park is ever-changing.

Every time we visit, the landscape, trees, geothermal sites and the wildlife have undergone dramatic transitions.

This year we were caught in several "Bison Jams" as the traffic through the park came to a complete stop to allow the real inhabitants of the land to take back the streets.


Our 6 month old puppy, Bodie got to witness the huge bison as they crossed within a few feet of us!
Don't Bark, Bodie!!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

An Earth Minute of Orchids

Orchids have long been treasured by humans for their exotic beauty. These ancient flowers date back to the Age of Dinosaurs and are found on all continents except Antarctica. With over 35,000 species, California is even home to several species, including stream orchids (Epipactis gigantia).

Take an Earth Minute to be amazed by their diversity.


Several of these orchids are in our garden, including the closing cymbidium orchid. 

She is a hardy queen that needs little maintenance to produce several stalks of treasure each year. Michael’s grandfather hand bred this plant over forty years ago and she is still going strong.

The displayed orchids were photographed at the annual Southern California Spring Garden Show at South Coast Plaza in April.

Check out this week's

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Take a Closer Look at the Gray Bird Grasshopper

Have you seen a medium-sized green grasshopper or a large brown grasshopper in the Los Angeles area? If you have, you've seen a gray bird grasshopper (Schistocerca nitens, aka Schistocerca vaga). Take a look at how they change.

The grasshopper molts its exoskeleton as it gets larger and with each molt it's coloring gradually changes. 

The gray bird grasshopper is the largest insect in the Los Angeles Basin. It is typically solitary and doesn't eat that much. Some research with other grasshoppers has shown that grasshopper droppings actually are important fertilizer returning important nutrients back into the soil.

We regard the arrival of these insects as a true sign of summer.

See other local California insects - Valley Carpenter Bees