24 May 2008

Honeymoon Pictures I - Wildlife

Hello! Yes, it's what you've all been waiting for! Here are some pictures from our honeymoon! After the jump!

I have a policy of not posting photos that have me or Smittywife in them. Jackson and Smittykitty (she still doesn't have a formal name; lately I've been calling her "Tumbleweed Schrodinger, the Quantum Kitten") are fair game but they didn't come on the honeymoon, obviously. So some of the better pictures are right out. Nonetheless, I took over 300 photos during the honeymoon (gotta love digital), and Smittywife took more like 450. These here are just the ones from my camera (Smittywife's are often better, although my wildlife shots are better because of the fantastic zoom I have) so they're not really even the best of the lot. And there may be more as we go on and I discover really fantastic shots; this was just a cursory glance. And yes, if you're counting, in this cursory glance I pulled 24 pictures--and I had to cut out about ten to keep it reasonable. So there may be more shots as time goes on.

Anyway, without further ado, the first six...

I called these wildlife, but a lot of them are plants. I like plants. You may not ordinarily care much about plants, but you'll certainly be impressed by this one: the mighty sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum). You really have to back way up to get the whole tree into frame.

Or you can just shoot up at the sky and get the tops of the trees. These are in the Mariposa Grove, at the southern end of the park. We went there on Wednesday, which started out cool and drizzly and not especially nice. The drive from the Valley to the Grove is probably about an hour, maybe a little more, but we stopped at every creek along the way to play, so it took us a little longer.

Another evening we were in the Yosemite Valley, driving back from the Vernal Falls hike, and the traffic slowed to a stop. And lo out the passenger side of the car were these happy deer. The Valley deer are quite used to people; the next evening one actually walked right up to a woman standing outside her car taking pictures, ate the grass around her feet (and posed for a lot of peoples' pictures) and continued on her way. These were not quite so close but I like the picture better.

We spent Thursday in the valley (same day I took the picture of the deer above) and hiked to the lower Yosemite falls. We had been seeing Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) trees in bloom all week but I hadn't taken a good picture. This one, believe it or not, was in the parking lot. Such a pretty blossom. It lacks the colored tips of the Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) we have in the eastern part of the country but it's pretty nonetheless.

This is a Steller's Jay. This is the Blue Jay of the West; there are no Blue Jays west of the Rockies at all. In the Rockies you have your magpies and such who perform the same task (steal nests, scavenge, squawk at everything, but look nice doing it) but in California this is the equivalent bird. They're very pretty and there are hundreds of them around, but as with most wildlife getting them to sit still is the biggest problem. This one was very cooperative and let me get two fantastic shots on the Vernal Fall trail on Thursday.

And finally your dose of the bizarre. This is a Snow Plant (Sarcodes sanguinea). It lacks chlorophyll (not surprising since it only grows in dense shade) and gets nutrients through its roots and also by parasitizing the roots of the pine trees it grows under. It is a plant, not a fungus, but it clearly blurs that boundary. What you see here are the flower heads, which look like giant red asparagus if you ask me. In a few more weeks the bracts you see will fall off and the flowers will appear, and a few weeks after that all you'll see is a dead stick with round seed pods. This is a very weird plant. It's good to know the wilderness remains a bizarre place.

1 comment:

Rambling Speech said...

Picture of the Pacific Dogwood is great- the light was really good and it just pops.

The snow plant-- that is SO WEIRD. They look alien.