Natural History Notes

Sunday, May 21, 2006

flowers of early summer, etc.

88°, south breeze, clear blue sky, weatherman sees no rain till maybe next week.

I haven't gotten out to Clear Creek since April, though I briefly visited Ray Roberts last Thursday. Prickly pear, milkweed, and yarrow were in bloom. The green milkweed is the most sculptural of the bunch; it's a case of close-coordinated evolution between the flower and its bee pollinators. A bee lighting on the flat stigma will often leave the flower carrying a pair of "saddlebags" of pollen, which hook on her leg if her foot slips off the stigma between the anthers. These containerized pollen sacs handily supply the hive, and some also rubs off on the next stigma.
Look closely at the yarrow (click on photo for enlarged image). You will see that each "flower" is actually a composite, like a very small daisy, with four or generally five sterile ray florets and a few radially symmetrical fertile disc florets in the center.

I have been walking in town a good deal since early March. Last week it was still very comfortable to walk, even in the afternoon. That time is about over. Mornings and after 7:30 in the evening are going to be the only comfortable choices now.

The most prominent wildlife in town is the mockingbirds. I went out through UNT last Tuesday and along one block of Mulberry between Ave. B and Ave. C there were three, each seeking out the best street signs to perch on.

Here at home there are young jays growing up somewhere around the apartment entrance. I haven't located them, but I sure hear them.

Meanwhile the mama-cat (Zap) has brought her four kittens (about 7 weeks old or so) to the deck. They are perfectly happy for me to feed them but not to touch.