On my visit to Santa Barbara, California, Raja and I observed a decently-sized flock of snowy plovers, a threatened shore bird currently being managed in several reserves up the Californian coast. While attempting to photograph the birds, a volunteer literally ran down the beach to tell me to keep moving to reduce disturbance to the fledglings. The reserve is more-or-less constantly patrolled by volunteers with a variety of experiences in conservation biology, as evidenced by this particular volunteer’s lack of knowledge about the plover’s restoration and referral to another individual to answer my questions.
The Colorado Desert in Joshua Tree National Park looked extremely patchy with respect to plant species distributions. There were large areas clearly dominated by a single species, such as Ocotillo and Cholla. Further, like other desert plants, the plants appeared to be distributed uniformly within patches.
Here’s a beautiful example of a dense patch of Cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii).
Beyond the Ocotillo wash and patch, there were a few extremely spiny plants along the road in Joshua Tree National Park that caught my eye. I stopped to photograph this one, just before coming to the Cholla Garden, which, at the time, I wasn’t aware of.
Teddy-bear Cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii) is anything but friendly. I received a few barbed spines in my finger as I explored the cactus’ branching and green stem.