Wilderness Interface Zone is happy to announce the arrival of its spring photo gallery, now showing in the photo box in the upper right-hand corner of the page displayed on your screen. It’s a little late, I know, but flowers, tree leaves, migratory birds, and torpid amphibians and reptiles have only emerged in abundance here in San Juan County, Utah over the last three weeks. I did include some photos from the winter gallery I couldn’t bear to part with.
My son Saul took these pictures using a Kodak DX6490. He shot somewhere around four hundred photographs, from which we chose these seventeen. Many spring flowers haven’t yet bloomed. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get nice shots of can’t-be-missed subjects to add to this collection.
Locations for the subjects of these new photos include the rim of Crossfire Canyon, Kane Gulch, and our back yard, all in southeastern Utah. The male black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) is one of the hummers frequenting our back porch feeders. Saul took the closeup of the honeybee (Apis mellifera) on a dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) in our yard. Dandelions have their charm, of course, but there’s something gorgeous about honeybees. As my daughter says, “They look like their own honey.”
The cactus pictures are from Crossfire’s rim. Those reddish flowers bloom on claret cup cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus), a type of hedgehog cactus. I believe those wide-eyed pink flowers erupt on another type of hedgehog cactus, Engelmann’s hedgehog (Echinocereus engelmannii).
The striking photos of aspen trees (white-barked trunks) against stone were taken in Kane Gulch, part of the Grand Gulch Primitive Area. I’ve never seen aspen trees like these before—they have completely different bearing and branch structure from aspens I’m used to seeing. They belong to the genus Populus, to which the cottonwood tree also belongs, but I’m not sure what this particular species of aspen is named. If you, dear reader, know the scientific name of this species of aspen tree, please tell us all.
With the exception of the old photo of the colorful green and purple rock stratigraphy, taken in Montezuma Canyon, the rockforms are all from Kane Gulch. The detail of the streaks of black patina on sandstone I thought had animals fur tones to it, fun to look at. The old science on how such a patina comes to glaze stone was that water either leached or carried in minerals and deposited them on rock surfaces in the course of its downward flow. More recent science suggests that microbiotic organisms actually import the patina materials for their own purposes, but as far as I know, no one understands yet what those purposes are. I would guess some kind of stabilization work.
The lizards are members of the swift family, genera Sceloporus and Uta, a rather varied group of lizards, especially in Kane Gulch, where these photos were shot. As I more specifically identify the species I’ll post information. An interesting note: Some lizards like to have their pictures taken. They not only run up to you out of curiosity but will sit still long enough for you to get a good bead on them. Generally, the friendlier lizards were females. The larger, blue-throated and blue-bellied males usually ran away without so much as a “Humph.” The one exception is the lizard posed along a slightly inclined piece of angular stone. If you look closely, you can see a bit of his blue underbelly.
The stunning red flowers with a trumpet shape to their unified petals are, I think, scarlet gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata), also called desert trumpet, a member of the phlox family. That picture was taken in Kane Gulch. The blue flowers are blue flax (Linum lewisii) growing in my garden. The “lewisii” part of the scientific name honors Thomas Jefferson’s secretary Meriwether Lewis of the 1804-1806 Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery expedition commissioned to explore the West. At the rate these flowers are spreading in the yard, in a few years we’ll have enough to make our own linseed oil.
The leafing sapling twig is some kind of willow, maybe a coyote willow, also located in Kane Gulch. The creamy yellow flowers filling their frame grow on the cliffrose bush, Purshia stansburyana, a member of the Rosaceae, or rose family. This time of year, these flowers lend to the desert their heavy perfume.
We also have, of course, berries of the Utah juniper, Juniperus osteosperma, taken during our winter shoot, but these trees still hold many of their blue berries in May.
Always fun to go out and shoot these photos. To make new photos appear in the gallery window, simply refresh your screen. Reader corrections and elaborations are welcome; please add them in the comments section.