Photography

Red Bird Season Almost Over

It’s that time of the fall when the Red Bird Of Paradise (Pride of Barbados) shrubs in the courtyard are about through with their production of gorgeous flowers (and pea pods). Within the next few days, we will be cutting them back to the ground for the winter. However, they will be back by next late May or early June for another colorful season.

The image above (click to enlarge) is of some of the last flowers on one of the shrubs. Canon EOS Rebel T6i, 1/1024 sec, F5.6, ISO 250, EF-S18-135mm lens @89mm.

More about these flowering shrubs from Wikipedia:

Caesalpinia pulcherrima is a species of flowering plant in the pea family.

It is a shrub growing to 3 m tall. In climates with few to no frosts, this plant will grow larger and is semievergreen. Grown in climates with light to moderate freezing, plant will die back to the ground depending on cold, but will rebound in mid- to late spring. This species is more sensitive to cold than others. The leaves are bipinnate, 20–40 cm long, bearing three to 10 pairs of pinnae, each with six to 10 pairs of leaflets 15–25 mm long and 10–15 mm broad. The flowers are borne in racemes up to 20 cm long, each flower with five yellow, orange, or red petals. The fruit is a pod 6–12 cm long.

Caesalpina pulcherrima is the national flower of the Caribbean island of Barbados, and is depicted on the upper left and right corners of the Queen Elizabeth II’s personal Barbadian flag. Claire Waight Keller included pride of Barbados to represent the country in Meghan Markle’s wedding veil, which included the distinctive flora of each Commonwealth country.

Retirement Throwback

This coming Saturday, 10/01/2022, will be the thirteenth anniversary of my retirement from full-time employment. In the days following that event, Verna and I took some weekday trips to some of our local attractions. Verna took this photo of a Seagull in the Harbor of Los Angeles (San Pedro).

We visited the garden department of a Lowe’s and saw this hummingbird browsing the flowers on display there.

Finally, we visited the South Coast Botanic Garden on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. This is us relaxing on a park bench for a few minutes after walking through the acres and acres of garden displays.

All the above activity took place the first week of October, 2009. It was such a pleasure to visit these places on weekdays when they were less crowded than on the weekends. Click on any image to enlarge.

A Sunset Cloud Rainbow

About a half hour before sunset this evening, this beautiful prismatic rainbow appeared in the ice crystals of high clouds west of our house. There were a lot of clouds over California and Arizona due to Hurricane Kay, currently making its way up the Baja California Coast.

The weather forecast for us over the next couple of days will be cloudy with possible thundershowers. In California, there are forecasts for flash flooding and high winds that may cross over into Arizona. We’re ready for it, however, having recently gone through our annual monsoon season.

Pod Casting

That was our morning courtyard chore today, casting the poisonous seed pods of our Red Bird of Paradise shrubs. When we say “casting,” we mean into a trash receptacle. We remove the pods, as seen growing on the raceme flower stalk in the image to the right (click to enlarge), and dispose of them. If we don’t remove the pods, they could fall to the ground in the courtyard and, while we generally don’t allow the dogs access to the courtyard, one of them might take a notion to eating a pod that has fallen, God forbid.

The Red Bird Flowers themselves, on the other hand, continue to be as beautiful as ever this year. The showy flowers dazzle our senses every spring through late fall. See for yourself in the image below.

Monsoon Weather

Our usual summer monsoons are upon us. We have been having thundershowers in the area for a couple of weeks and the forecast is for that to continue through this coming weekend and perhaps beyond. Verna took the image above on Monday as we were coming home from picking up our new eyewear from the optometrist – the location is looking west toward the Arizona Outback just before we would be turning right at the signal. There was a large thunderstorm cell dumping a lot of rain in that area. Click on the image to enlarge.

Most of the monsoon cells manage to get around us, but not all of them. We had a magnificent lightning and thundershower event last week during the wee hours that woke us and freaked Cabela and Tucker (our dogs) out for about an hour or so. The storm dumped a lot of rain, but it quickly soaked in or ran off down the wash near our abode.

There has been enough rain near the headwaters of the Hassayampa River that there was some visible water flowing down the usually dry riverbed as we crossed the bridge on US 60 east of town this afternoon.

The image above shows the riverbed looking north. This is just a small amount of runoff since history shows the river during peaks with whitecaps and rapids when the monsoons really get going up toward the headwaters. The “raging” river has been known to overflow the banks and do significant damage to riverfront properties and motorhomes. Fortunately, that has not been the case (so far) this monsoon season. Click on the image (courtesy Verna) to enlarge.

Compass Cactus Flower

I happened to be up in the “outback” (the hill behind the RV drive) yesterday to take photos of our recently recovered RV slide-out toppers when I noticed a flower opened on our Compass Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus). These flowers open generally in May and June, but as has been the case this year, many cacti around town have had late blooming flowers here in mid to late July. Click on the image to enlarge.

From LLIFLE (Edited for brevity):

Origin and Habitat: The various variety of Ferocactus cylindraceus (= Ferocactus acanthodes) are spread in the southern of United States (central and western Arizona, southeastern California Nevada, and Utah) and southwards into Mexico (Baja California and Sonora).

Altitude range: From sea level to 1750 meters.

Habitat: This cactus is locally abundant in arid gravelly or rocky foothills, canyon walls, fans and wash margins, sometimes on the plains among creosote bush scrub, it also utilizes slopes and acid igneous rock lands. The species is limited in its northwards range by frost conditions. To reduce the damage by frost the plant is found on south facing slopes and it leans to the south to protect the sensitive growing tip by placing it for best exposure to the sun.

Common Names include:
Spiny Barrel Cactus, Le Conte Barrel Cactus, Barrel Cactus, Golden-spined Barrel Cactus, Desert Barrel Cactus, Cliff Barrel Cactus, Compass Barrel Cactus, Golden-Spined Barrel, Desert Barrel, California Barrel Cactus, Cliff Barrel, Compass Barrel, Compass Cactus