Stellars Jay ( Cyanocitta stelleri )

The Stellars Jay ( Cyanocitta stelleri ) is a common character found in the forests of the western half of the United States. The bird is an opportunistic omnivore and closely related to the Blue Jay. The Stellars Jay has a black crested head and a vibrant blue body which is commonly about between eleven and twelve inches long. This bird has a lot of variations depending on location.

Stellar's Jay ( Cyanocitta stelleri ) stealing peanuts in Big Bear, California
A Stellar’s Jay ( Cyanocitta stelleri ) stealing peanuts in Big Bear, California
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Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatium)

A member of the mustard family, the Western Wallflower ( Erysimum capitatium ) is a brightly colored yellow flower which is quite common across the western United States, including Arizona, Utah and Nevada.. In European countries, the wallflower earned its name from a habit of growing on… you guess it, walls. More specifically stone, masonry or wooden fences. The name was transposed to the American species despite the fact the plants have no preference for walls.

Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatium)
Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatium)
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Common Fiddleneck ( Amsinckia intermedia )

The Common Fiddleneck ( Amsinckia intermedia ) is a wildflower common across the United States and a member of the forget-me-not-family. Also known as the Intermediate Fiddleneck, the name is derived from the flower stems which are formed in the appearance of a violin or fiddle.

Common Fiddleneck ( Amsinckia intermedia var. intermedia )
Common Fiddleneck ( Amsinckia intermedia var. intermedia )
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Palmers Penstemon ( penstemon palmeri )

In the spring on 2020 I was photographing along the Morning Star Mine Road, we happened upon Palmers Penstemon ( penstemon palmeri ). This species is the most surprising and beautiful wild flowers I have seen in the Mojave Desert.

Penstemon palmeri plant found off Morning Star Mine Road
Penstemon palmeri plant found off Morning Star Mine Road
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Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis )

The Western Fence Lizard ( Sceloporus occidentalis ) is perhaps one of the most common lizards in the desert southwest and is also known as a “Blue belly”. Perhaps this commonality is the reason for its name. The Western Fence lizard is found in a variety of habitats and common at elevations up to 10,800 feet. They can be located in forests, desert sage, farmlands and grasslands. This species is typically not found in harsh desert climates and moist forests.

Western Fence Lizard
Western Fence Lizard

This animal is typically between 2 inches and 3.5 inches in length. They are typically black to brown in colors with stripes on their backs. They have blue colored patches on their ventral abdomen. This reptiles will lay clutches of eggs between 3 and 17 eggs in the spring between April and July. The eggs will hatch within two months of feralization.

This animal are known to eat insects including ant, beetles, flies, spiders and some caterpillars. They typically can be found sunning themselves on rocks, fences and paths. The are a prey item for other animals including larger lizards, birds and also some a mammals. As is common with most reptiles, the lizard is known to hibernate in cooler winter months.

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