Part Two, What's Blooming along the Mining Trail
After leaving the Slim Pickings mine I was determined to get back on track for any wildflowers that might be blooming in the higher slopes across from Walker Lake.
Driving up a short distance, a shade of blue caught my eye. An attractive grouping of Blue Phacellia, Phacelia distans was growing off to the side, next to the canyon wall.
Blue Phacellia is also known as Scorpionweed due to the arrangement of the flowers, resembling a scorpion's tail.
With the severe drought this area has been under for so many years, I was pleased to find a large number of Blackbrush Coleogyne ramosissima in bloom with their yellowish sepals.
The name Blackbrush comes from the gray branches turning a dark, black color when they are wet in the rain.
All around, the Spiny Hop Sage Grayia spinosa were just beginning to show a deep pink with their leaf like colorful bracts. An interesting fact about this shrub is that inconspicuous male and female flowers grow on separate plants that have a short blooming period from May through June.
Sulfur Buckwheat, Eriogonum umbellatum polyanthum, was thriving all around at mid elevation. This plant is native to the Sierra Nevada Mountains and attracts birds and butterflies to its flowers.
Reaching a flat meadow, I noticed a few tiny white blooms on the narrow-leaved Popcorn Flower, Cryptantha angustifolia. It is so named from the similarity of the flower's cluster to the popcorn snack.
As I wandered around, I began to notice a rather strange looking green plant that was thriving in many different locations. Checking with my Desert Wildflower Field Guide, I discovered this to be Leafy Spurge, Euphorbia esula, a perennial native to Europe that is an invasive weed. To my horror, I read that Leafy Spurge grows rapidly and will displace all other vegetation. Furthermore the milky latex from this plant can cause skin irritation and may even be toxic to humans and animals.
This collared lizard, unaware of any warnings regarding the Leafy Spurge was waiting for a late afternoon snack on an insect that might be passing by.
Continuing further up the trail would eventually take me to the top of the mountain, but that was a long drive and not enough hours of daylight for this trip.
The afternoon breeze was picking up, requiring a faster shutter speed for a sharp image. It was time to head back down the trail.
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With my Nikon and tripod, my goal is to recreate the scene as it appears in nature, to preserve in a photographic image the awesome, yet simplistic beauty of the scene that waits around a bend or over a hill. Sometimes it's a colorful landscape, and many times I'm allowed in the presence of the numerous creatures that adapt to life in the wild.
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