Sheltering in Place, Part 10

Draw Breath Facebook group drawing from May 4, the anniversary of the debut of the original Star Wars movie (May the 4th be with you!). The model wore a variety of Star Wars-themed outfits. iPad Pro, Autodesk Sketchbook, pen and brush tools

It’s been thirteen days since the last post! That went fast. The good news is that the county went to Stage 2 on Friday the 8th. This meant some “non-essential” businesses are being allowed to reopen if they can offer curbside pickup. Masks are now required in public along with continuing social distancing, but many outdoor activities are now encouraged. Since then our run of almost no cases since early April ended on the 9th. Two cases that day, four the next (including two in an assisted-living facility and three yesterday. All appear to be community transmission.

Peregrin and Hailey on the levee

This past Sunday we had good weather (it’s been raining quite a bit) and drove up to the Redwood Creek levee at Orick. We like it for walks because the collies can be off-leash, we can see all around us, there’s almost never been anyone else there and the gravel walkway ends at the mouth of the creek so we’re right near the ocean. It’s about a three mile round trip.

Peregrin or Mr. P or The P

Our collie boy, Peregrin, turned four on the 6th. Hailey’s father is one of his grandfathers. They’re both from Romany Collies up near Portland.

The pond is looking good, nice and full (pics next time). The yellow flag iris (not invasive in California) I introduced years ago on the west side of the pond has now moved to the east side (more sun?) and is happily blooming away. I’ll do some life studies, maybe a watercolor, on Friday if we do get the predicted break in the rain.

Yellow flag iris

As I mentioned above, it’s been raining for the last few days, which is great for the garden. During one of the breaks, the dogs started whining and circling around a tree behind a cinder block compost bin. I peered and peered up into the tree and then ran for my camera. When I got back I found myself looking into the eyes of a opossum! I took a bunch of photos then I and the collies went back into the house to give the opossum a chance to safely come down and move on. But I hope he/she stays around. We don’t have ticks here near the coast, which they are famous for eating, but help with snail and slug control would be greatly appreciated.

American opossom, our country’s only native marsupial

We’ve since taken the suet feeder down for the year since it attracts a family of crows who are welcome but not right next to the house. But last Thursday “our” black-headed grosbeak family showed up for the summer! And not just the male and female but what look like a male and a female juvenile, possibly babies from last year?

Black-headed grosbeak male

Not very many bees or butterflies yet. And we haven’t had many of the latter for a number of years. The bees are either bumblebees or another native species of honeybee or European honeybees, which means someone not too far away has hives.

But this big butterfly showed up for a short time three days ago. It’s a swallowtail but not sure what species since it’s so much lighter in color than the tiger swallowtail. It also looked a little beat-up around the edges.

Finally, here’s my latest entry (at the bottom) in the Inktober52 pen and ink drawing event. I really had fun with this one although I was not enthusiastic at first because I’d done the same praying mantis a month or so ago for the prompt “Green”. But I’ve just gotten a selection of Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay inks and, although I have a couple of greens I decided the heck with it and used teal, red-violet and yellow instead.

Inktober52- Prompt: “Praying Mantis” Esterbrook 62 crowquill nib on Strathmore 300 vellum bristol

You can see the rest of the drawings I’ve been doing since the first week in January, including the “gree” mantis on my Instagram page here.

Mongolia Monday- Bizarre to Beautiful “Bugs”

I probably should have run this post last week before Hallowe’en, but, in any case, here’s a variety of the insects that I’ve seen in Mongolia. Not all that many and I don’t know what the species are. Field guides are kind of thin on the ground for Mongolian wildlife. So if anyone can ID these critters, let me know and I’ll update this post.

The photos were shot on my 2006 and 2008 trips. I used a Nikon D70 with a Tamron 28-300mm lens in 2006 and a Nikon D80 with a Promaster (made by Tamron) 28-300 in 2008.

Saw this one in the Gobi. It was big- close to 3″ long.

Saw this one at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve. There were specimens at the Natural History Museum in UB but, unfortunately, the labels were all in cyrillic Mongolian, which I can’t read. Yet. They are related to grasshoppers, but aren’t. That much I was able to find out.

Grasshopper at the ger camp, Hustai National Park

Another grasshopper photographed at Hustai.

Large, almost 3″ grasshopper photographed near Dungenee Ger Camp, Gobi Desert.

Photographed same location as above. This one really matched the rocks.

Only spider I’ve seen in three trips to Mongolia. Photographed same time as the two grasshoppers above.

Beetle at Ikh Nart. The challenge was waiting until it scurried out into the sun so I could catch the deep blue color.

This was really one of the most dramatic wildlife spectacles I’ve seen in Mongolia. The beetle had pounced on the brownish insect and the battle was on, with the latter trying to escape from the former. The beetle inexorably manuevered the brown one around for what we thought was the death grip in which they were head to head. Then, suddenly, the brown one broke free and got away. It went on for minutes. I took quite a few pictures, but this one seemed to show the situation with the most clarity.

Ikh Nart butterflies.