Borrego Feb 2019
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Borrego Valley, Scissors Crossing, Lake Henshaw
W.P. Armstrong, February 19-22, 2019
Cameras Used On This Trip: Nikon D-3200, Nikon D-90, Sony HX-60
The purpose of this short road trip was to check on the wildflower status in Borrego Valley. Although we were a few weeks early for the peak bloom, there were a lot of wildflowers in Coyote Creek. In my opinion, the weather phenomena was even more spectacular than the wildflower display. In the 50 years I have led wildflower walks to this area, this is the most snow I have ever seen in our desert mountains. In addition to photogenic snow-covered peaks there were spectacular cloud formations and rainbows. The Santa Rosa Mtn Range was completely snow-covered from El Toro Peak to the Salton Sea. In addition, I found a new ant species in Coyote Creek for my ant page: Pogonomyrmex magnacanthus. This is a red harvester ant much smaller than the usual "pogos" I see in San Diego County. In fact, it is similar to the rare P. anzensis on rocky slopes of Split Mountain.
Borrego Valley

Our first night had a huge reddish moon in the clear eastern sky; however, the weather changed dramatically the following day.

Just before sunrise in Borrego Springs.

Desert sunflowers (Geraea canescens) in Coyoye Creek.

Desert sand verbena (Abronia villosa var. villosa) in Coyote Creek.

Lenticular cloud (Altocumulus lenticularis) over Coyote Mountain. The following is from my pilot sun-in-law (Captain Zach) & Wikipedia:

Lenticular clouds, technically known as altocumulus standing lenticularis, are stationary lens-shaped clouds that form at high altitudes, normally aligned at right-angles to the wind direction. Where stable moist air flows over a mountain or a range of mountains, a series of large-scale standing waves may form on the downwind side. Lenticular clouds sometimes form at the crests of these waves. Under certain conditions, long strings of lenticular clouds can form, creating a formation known as a wave cloud. Power pilots tend to avoid flying near lenticular clouds because of the turbulence of the rotor systems that accompany them, but sailplane pilots actively seek them out. This is because the systems of atmospheric standing waves that cause "lennies" (as they are sometimes familiarly called) also involve large vertical air movements, and the precise location of the rising air mass is fairly easy to predict from the orientation of the clouds. "Wave lift" of this kind is often very smooth and strong, and enables gliders to soar to remarkable altitudes and great distances. The current gliding world records for both distance (over 3,000 km) and altitude (14,938 m) were set using such lift. Lenticular clouds have been mistaken for UFOs (or "visual cover" for UFOs) because these clouds have a characteristic lens appearance and smooth saucer-like shape.

The Santa Rosa Mountain Range was snow-covered from 8,717 ft. Toro Peak (left) all the way south to the Salton Sea.

Painted Lady (Vanesa cardui) on the ground in Coyote Creek. It was lying flat on the sand apparently trying to avoid the strong winds overhead.

Rainbow near Palm Canyon.

Rainbow view from Borrego Springs Mall.

Gigantic metal scorpion in Borrego Valley.

Pogonomyrmex In Borrego Valley

Pogonomyrmex magnacanthus in Coyote Creek. This is a small, red harvester ant only 5 mm in length. It is much smaller than typical "pogos" in southern California, including P. californicus, P. maricopa & P. subnitidus (see following links). Like other local species It has 7 teeth per mandible. The rare P. anzensis is similar in size but has only 6 teeth per mandible.

Pogonomyrmex californicus and the smaller P. magnacanthus in Borrego Valley. Both species have 7 teeth per mandible. The rare P. anzensis is similar in size to P. magnacanthus but has only 6 teeth per mandible.

To verify the ID of Pogonomyrmex magnacanthus in Borrego Valley you must count the number of teeth. It has 7 teeth per mandible. The rare P. anzensis is similar in size to P. magnacanthus but has only 6 teeth per mandible.

Pogonomyrmex On Ant Genera Page
Pogonomyrmex rugosus At Murrieta, Calif
Pogonomyrmex barbatus At Cottonwood, AZ
Pogonomyrmex subnitidus At Palomar Mountain
Pogonomyrmex mariposa At Joshua Tree National Park
Pogonomyrmex californicus At Joshua Tree National Park
  My 1st Love Affair With Ants During The 1950s When I Was 10  

Other Ant Genera In Borrego Valley

Big-Headed Ant: Pheidole
Honeypot Ant: Myrmecocystus
  Harvester Ant: Messor = Veromessor  

Scissors Crossing

View of snow-covered Granite Mountain from Scissors Crossing.

View from Scissors Crossing looking west toward Volcan Mountains and Julian.

View of old Fremont cottonwoods (Populus fremontii) looking west toward Volcan Mountains and Julian.

Views of Lake Henshaw Along Hwy 76 & 79

Views of Lake Henshaw from Hwy 76 & 79.