Katydid Contemplation


katydid contemplating



While with an eye made quiet by the power

Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,

We see into the life of things.

William Wordsworth


Harsi / June 30, 2011 / arthropods, quotations / 0 Comments

Seeing Spots

Counting animals in the field can be tricky. They have a habit of not staying still.

Oh sure, I’ve tried explaining to the newts cruising around the creek that it would be very helpful if they could just stay in the same place long enough for me to get past number 5 or 6 before I become hopelessly confused and have to start over again. But, well, you know how willful and restless a newt can be, right??! *GRIN*

One of the many wonders of photography is that it affords me the option of sitting in front of my computer to study images taken in the field that will give me accurate data. In many cases, far more accurate, than my attempts at eyeballing a large group in person. As I count, I mark each critter with a red dot so that I know if I missed anyone and to make certain that I don’t double-count by accident.

In spring of 2010, at the Robert J. Bernard Biological Field Station, several ponds were teeming with newly hatched California Toads. Here’s what SEVENTY of these tiny hoppers looked like:


California Toad juveniles, count

This past March, I saw a large herd of Mule Deer grazing in the horse pasture here in the canyon. I thought it might be the most numerous group I’d ever seen… turns out I was right! There are a total of NINETEEN in this image. I’m curious if anyone else has ever seen a larger herd of Mule Deer than that?


Mule Deer herd, count


Some of the numbers I come up with are less impressive, but the information still fascinates me… Bees and wasps are frequent visitors to any local water source, especially as temperatures go up and humidity levels start to plummet. I watched intently as several identical-looking bumble bees repeatedly returned to the same spot next to the creek. They were zipping in and out of there so fast though that I wasn’t sure just how many I was watching. The answer was SIX!


bumble bees at creek, count


Of course, at the end of the day — especially a really, really, long day when you’re more than a little stir-crazy from being stuck inside with the flu — you can even have fun counting to ONE.

Botta's Pocket Gopher, count


Final bit of amusement courtesy of one of the local Botta’s Pocket Gopher… I know that many people have nothing but contempt for these little guys, but I can’t imagine holding a grudge against this industrious digger… that expression melts my heart every time!

Harsi / June 29, 2011 / amphibians, arthropods, mammals, photography / 2 Comments

Sectionals II

I had so much fun doing this yesterday, that I did a few more today… this time with a botanical theme.


California Poppy, sectional

California Poppy (Eschscholzia sp.)


Wild Cucumber, sectional

Wild Cucumber (Marah sp.)


flower & shadow, sectional

I don’t have a name for this plant… I confess that I was mostly smitten with its shadow. *GRIN*


Laurel Sumac leaf, sectional

Laurel Sumac (Malosma luarina), leaf close-up


That last one is my favorite, I think. Still doing a lot of sleeping, snuffling and generally feeling out-of-it. Call me stupidly optimistic, but tomorrow… I think tomorrow I will definitely be turning the corner on this one.

Harsi / June 28, 2011 / flowers, plants / 2 Comments


Just playing around a bit with dividing photos and how the placement of negative space can change the feel of the overall image….


sunset & clouds, sectional



bubbles on stream, sectional



ecualyptus at sunset, sectional



mule deer at sunset, sectional


Sorry for the simplistic post, folks. I was feeling pretty beat today… but I have high hopes for tomorrow.

Harsi / June 27, 2011 / mammals, plants, skies, water / 2 Comments

Waiting It Out…

Bobcat on front porch, digital art


I had been going back-and-forth on this all week, but now it’s really official… I’m sick again.

My first instinct? To throw a tantrum. But then… that also sounds like a lot of energy to be expending when everything from my shins to my cheekbones hurts. (What IS it about fever that makes you ache in the most odd and obscure of places?!)

No, instead, I’m going to endeavor some sort of zen-like approach where I simply accept that there are going to be a lot of catnaps and fluids in my near future. Wish me luck!

[The above image is a digital piece I created from an old photo of a Bobcat (Lynx rufus) who decided that our front porch was as good a place as any to take a snooze one day.]

Harsi / June 26, 2011 / artwork, mammals / 2 Comments

The Last Unicorn?


Mule Deer X Unicorn hybrid


Well… it just might be… if we can believe what a shadow has to say. *GRIN*


Harsi / June 25, 2011 / mammals / 0 Comments

Teaching an Old Fly New Tricks

fly balancing act

Most children have a bug period, and I never grew out of mine.

Edward O. Wilson


** Extra-special bonus points for the first person to tell me how it’s done! **

Harsi / June 24, 2011 / arthropods, photography, quotations / 7 Comments

Laurel Light

The sun has been BLAZING lately. I try my best to find creative ways to work with this element when it comes to photography. I’m including a few images that I took of the setting sun shining through a mosaic of Laurel Sumac (Malosma laurina) leaves. The effect in-person turned out to be much more spectacular than I was able to capture with these images. As long as I had them open in Photoshop though, I decided to play around a bit. Has anyone else ever experimented with the “Invert” command? It inverts the colors in any image, producing an end product that is similar to the way a film negative might appear. In most instances, I find the effect to be too harsh and obviously computer-generated looking. However, with a select group of scenery images and also with many abstract shots, it can produce some unique outcomes that I actually like. Click on the original photos below to see their color inverted. When I saw how these turned out, my thoughts immediately turned to batik — a wax-dyeing technique. Hmmm…. maybe that’s just me?


Laurel Sumac & sun

Laurel Sumac & sun


Anyone still having cool weather where they are?

Harsi / June 23, 2011 / artwork, plants / 3 Comments

15 Minute Art: The First Week

Boy, time just seems to be flying by lately! I thought I should probably post a brief update about my fledgling experiment to create a bit of artwork everyday.


:15 Minute Art, week 1


So, here’s a recap. Day #1 was the squirrel sketch I already posted.

On Day #2, I found an old drawing tool — a plastic template for drawing common geometric shapes (emblazoned with the catchy name “The Geometer”!). I thought it might be interesting to create a wildlife image entirely from this preset selection of ovals, triangles, squares and whatnot. Not sure if it translates or not, but the finished drawing is supposed to be a juvenile Great Horned Owl among some Eucalyptus’ leaves and flowers… in a very abstract way, of course.

Then, on Day #3, I totally forgot to do anything. Yup! That’s how crazy my head has been lately… three days in and I just completely spaced out. (In my defense, my husband returned home from Australia early that morning, then we went to a late breakfast, then I went out with my sisters-in-law to pick out bridesmaid dresses, then I came home, changed, and went back out again to have dinner with some relatives at my parent’s house. So… by the time I got home and finished putting up this blog post, I think my brain had just about had it for the day.)

Day #4 was a simple feather. I probably like this one the best.

Days #5 and #6 had a botanical theme. First a grape leaf and a few vines. Then, some lupine leaves, stems and flowers.

Finally, today, I decided to just let my mind wander for #7. Perhaps not the best idea! This started out as a stink bug (Family:Pentatomidae), but mutated into some sort of insect ghost rising up from a small collection vial. Hah! Don’t ask me!! It certainly wasn’t what I set out to draw… it just sort of happened along the way.

The same friend who inspired this project in the first place asked me the other day how it was “going”. I wasn’t really sure what to say. Truthfully, it hasn’t felt like as much fun as I had hoped it might be. It’s felt a bit more like homework than play. After sitting for awhile and thinking about why that might be, I’ve got a few thoughts. First, I’m still really hung up on making something GOOD. (I put the word in all caps so that it feels as weighty here on the page as it does in my head.) The adult in me simply hasn’t stepped aside yet and let the kid come out to really let loose and explore. Embarrassingly, I even found myself cheating a little bit… A couple times, if I started a drawing and didn’t like where it was headed, I’d quickly turn to a fresh page and say — “OK, the fifteen minutes actually starts… NOW!”  I know there was no rule against doing that per se, but it goes against the notion of just accepting whatever comes in the moment and going with it. Also, I think it would have been better to start with a medium that is less constricting than a ballpoint pen. Charcoal? Watercolors? Oils? Clay? Finger paints? I’m not sure yet… but something with color and something that lets me get a little messy and go a bit more crazy if I want.

I have to keep reminding myself that the purpose of all of this was to reconnect with my childhood self. Fewer hang-ups. Fewer preconceived expectations. More joy. Much much more joy. I figure if I can just get to that place, the GOOD stuff will follow. I’ll share another update in a week or so….

Harsi / June 22, 2011 / artwork / 6 Comments

Spotted Again

You might remember the last fawn sighting I posted about… Since then, I’ve had several opportunities to see them around my place, but often when my camera was not at hand.

A few days ago, while driving home, we saw a mother and her youngster on the side of the road and stopped to let them cross. I was so engrossed in watching that I didn’t think to try and take a few photos until they were almost out-of-view. I love the backdrop of field and trees, but the fawn itself is little more than a brown pair of ears visible above the grass line….


Mule Deer, female & fawn


Today, I headed out for a very brief walk as the sun was setting. It was unpleasantly warm and I was immediately distracted by the unwanted attention of various “bitey flies”. (Yup, that’s my highly scientific term for any number of fly species that make their living extracting blood from the local mammals… including myself, sadly.) Perhaps if I had been less distracted, I would have noticed the big dark eyes staring at me from a short distance away and approached more slowly. I stopped in my tracks and even backed up a few feet… sometimes this is enough to put our resident deer at ease and they will just go back to what they were doing. But the mother deer munching on Toyon in front of me had two fawns with her and I think she thought better of sticking around. They started to disappear into the dense brush. I simply watched them go. Despite my desire to take wonderful photos, I try never to chase after animals. I have no desire to alarm or frighten them — even if it means that I miss the shot. After a few minutes, I wandered past the area they had been and looked up into the foliage on the hill rising before me. At first I didn’t see anything, but I heard a bit of crashing as one of the fawn dashed to keep up with its mother. I managed to take a few images, though the second fawn never came back into view…


Mule Deer, female & fawn


As I was taking the above photo, the flies began to descend on me in the most merciless of ways. I already felt a bit wilted from the heat and I hadn’t even walked up the hill yet. Still, when you can come home with memories like these, it’s hard not to smile.

Harsi / June 21, 2011 / mammals / 0 Comments