May 18th and 19th went camping with my son and granddaughter on Mt Bigelo and went over Reddington Pass and then south to Parker Canyon Lake May 25th.
On top of Mt. Lemmon: What struck me was how little the recovery has progressed from the 2003 Aspen fire almost 10 years ago. There were some hills green with new growth but the steep slopes of the mountains are still barren. The severity of the fire, low rainfall on the mountain, continuing drought, all these would contribute to slow recovery. I see these areas eroding badly and being mostly barren for more decades to come.
Mt Bigelow: The floor of the Ponderosa pine forest is mostly barren except for some Draba flowers. The pines, however, were humming with life. Mostly Syrphidae flies that mimiced yellow wasps. I thought there were wasps investigating our food at camp but now I’m not so sure. Maybe the news reports of picnickers attacked by yellow jackets are really just mimics flying around. What was attracting them could be either the resin or the pollen. Ponderosa as gymnosperms are wind pollenated. Not sure if any pollination is being done by these flies but there were plenty of them. Saw no bees at all. Also saw Ladybird beetles (Hippodamia convergens) and perhaps it’s larvae. Noticed how a beetle’s flight is quite different from bee or a fly.
Manzanita Point: Went to look at the Arctostaphylos pringlei, it was definitely flowering. The pink bracts of this species stand out although the mature flowers are white. Didn’t notice as much damage on these flowers as in pungens although found one flower with a large hole in the side. I can almost spot the difference between the two species from a distance now. Growing right next to the manzanita was desert ceanothus (Ceanothus greggii), not listed as a food plant of the Brown Elfin.
General Hitchcock Campground: Didn’t have time to stop but I think I noticed both species of Arctostaphylos, pungens along the road into the campground and pringlei across the main highway near the entrance. I have to check to make sure but tthis may be a sympatric zone for the two species. Also, I found hints that there is madrone in upper Bear Canyon!
May 20th, we drove over Reddington Pass and then south to Canelo, Az and Parker Canyon Lake. Found A. pungens at both places. In Parker Canyon it is a much larger plant. Finished flowering with many berries, some brown and wrinkled, I don’t know if these are bad ones or not.