Monday, April 26, 2010


I always thought that taking pictures of bees is kind of lame...haha. Guess I just got sick of bees getting all the attention. I must confess however that I have also succumbed to the temptation of snapping pics of bees when the day is warm and flowers are blooming.
These two pictures were taken outside my apartment. The tree was blooming (still is to some extend) and since it was a warm, calm day, the bees were out in masses! With my windows open, I could hear the humming of the bees wings from inside my room.

I like this picture :). Bee butt. Looks shy and...sneaky.

 I saw this bee during my hike at Point Reyes, California in March 2010. I had no idea what bee it was, although I guessed that it was a bumblebee. I asked Katharina, a fellow grad student who studies bees, and she confirms that it was a Bombus melanopygus, a species of bumblebee. The thing that caught my eye was the reddish thing on its hindlegs. That's supposed to be the place where bees keep the pollen they collected, and it's called a pollen basket (or 'corbicula'). I have never seen pollen of any colour but yellow, yet this bee seemed to have red pollen! Katharina told me that pollen colour can be quite variable--yellow, red, orange and even........PURPLE! Now I would really like to see purple pollen~

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Point Reyes National Seashore 2

 Some plant growing on a rocky slope. Point Reyes National Seashore, March 24 2010.

I have a noticeably strong affinity for rocky patches with plant growth.
I think it started with a chapter in a Chinese textbook I read in high school. It was an essay of this grass that grew out of a crevice in a rock wall. The essay did a great job praising the resilience of the grass and the values we can learn from it. I am embarrassed to say that I can't do as great a job as that author did, but I can simply tell you what I see in plants that grow on rocky patches.

Patience, and a big long river of time: How many years have passed before a sufficient enough shallow layer of dirt has accumulated on the bare rocks to support plant life? How many years since the first plant started to cast its seeds into the air, hoping to land on dirt and not rocks? I suppose it must have taken ages of disappointment, but the dirt accumulated and a plant found roots.

Determination, and a try-and-try-again spirit: Even in fertile soil, seeds may have trouble germinating, what more of environment as hostile as shallow dirt on rocks? Leaching, erosion, dessication; one small blow and a seedling is finished. Look at a growing plant, and know that countless have failed before this.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Point Reyes National Seashore 1

During the one week break at the end of Winter Quarter, I joined four other Malaysian friends on a hike in the Point Reyes National Seashore park ( It was a semi-cloudy, not too sunny day although it was bright enough for me to snap some nice pictures.
The beginning of the trail we took.

I took about 300 pictures during the hike, of which fewer than 30 were focused on humans. The rest were all insects, plants, lichens, slugs and some spiders. The skew says more about the (lack of) appeal of my fellow human companions than of my bias for non-human subjects.
Yellow flowers along a trail in Point Reyes National Seashore. March 24, 2010.

There were many different plants along the Palomarin Trail, and they come in all sorts of colors and shapes too. One of them had yellow flowers on a bed of green, and as the wind blew and the flowers swayed among the green grass, they would shifted in and out of my vision. Twinkling, like stars on a cloudy night sky.

Was I the first person to see these yellow flowers as stars on the ground?
I hope not.
I believe not.