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Desert Wildflower Report 2 (3/16 - 3/19)

In short:

Desert Tortoise Natural Area: Excellent. Carpeted with goldfields, Mojave asters, and white sandblossom, and plenty of other non-massed blooms. The road in from California City (but not the actual preserve) lined with phacelia and suncups. Yellow carpet of presumably goldfields all around California City, around all the creosote bushes.

Red Rock Canyon SP (Hagen Nature Loop): Excellent. Covered in desert dandelions, goldfields, and suncups, also with a nice diversity of other things blooming (owl's clover, bladderpod, sandblossom, Bigelow's monkeyflower), and a lot of zebra-tailed lizards and large, plentiful sphinx moth caterpillars chewing up the Onagraceae ("lots of little varmits!" according to other hikers).

Owens Valley around Ridgecrest also carpeted in goldfields.

Death Valley NP frontcountry: Mixed. Sweltering! Ladybugs, red mites, and interesting insects all over. Big cloud of desert gold between Furnace Creek and Salt Creek, and a smaller one right around Ashford Mill. Tons of very active pupfish in Salt Creek! Gravel ghost and still-plentiful desert five-spot scattered around there too. Panamint Valley had nothing in it but blooming creosote, though there started to be some interesting things once on the eastern pass. Mosaic Canyon has a lot of bushes of what I'd guess are probably called spiny blazing star about to come into bloom. Around Zabriskie Point the same things as Furnace Creek, but in much lesser quantity. Up into Jubilee and Salisbury Pass things were starting to get good. Beavertail cactus just open, lots of tiny white daisies, a whole lot of brittlebush in one area, desert trumpet, etc.

Shoshone area: Hardly anything, though thunderstorms precluded the Tecopa canyoning I had in mind. Shoshone Pupfish in the creek behind the pool.

Highway 58: Lots of goldfields around Boron.

Highway 198 & 25 west of Coalinga: Really pretty as you go west. Rolling green hills with fields of pink cranesbill and tidy tips in Priest Valley, and a field of fiddlenecks and goldfields covered in butterflies at Peachtree Ranch. Lots of dotseed plantain and blue dicks around generally.

Pinnacles NP: Scattered things here and there (poppies, orange bush monkeyflower, indian paintbrush, the very last gasp of shooting stars), but definitely starting to enter the brown and crispy season. Lots of butterflies and frogs, though.

Posted by sea-kangaroo sea-kangaroo, March 21, 2015 17:12

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