Sunday, July 29, 2012
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Lots of people leaving camp for home today, so I didn't have any hikers. On the way home with my two teenagers, I was wondering if one photo of an ambush bug was sufficient "material" for an interesting blog post when we saw a photogenic cluster of Canada Geese in a freshly mowed field. They were feasting on the many seeds left behind by the baling machine. Then, while trying to keep my eyes on the road at 35 mph, I thought I saw a large group of Ravens with downward-curved bills. Not possible, so I figured I'd better stop. It was a group of White-faced Ibises. My son popped the telephoto onto my camera and I got a few shots from the driver's seat, then got out to approach the barbed-wire fence. The birds decided to relocate, so I got some nice photos of take-offs and landings. I pretty much ignored the geese, although a few managed to get into the some of the photos.
Friday, July 27, 2012
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
The focus our hike then switched to bugs. We saw lots of bug drama over the next hour. Some children in camp found a large Jerusalem Cricket, Stenopelmatus fuscus, which they called a potato bug. I gently prodded him out of his hole beneath a rock for some photos, then let him crawl back. We replaced the rock to protect his home, and I'll bet he'll be there tomorrow.
Along the trail was another eye-catching bug, a bright orange Velvet Ant, Dasymutilla aureola, which despite its soft, fuzzy look actually packs a powerful sting. You see, it's actually a wingless wasp.
There was lots of other interesting bug activity on today's walk. More photos and stories in my next post.
Monday, July 23, 2012
I recalled that in a similar setting on a creek just a half mile away, the Leopard Lilies had bloomed over a month ago and were now all wilted and bearing seed pods. There seemed to be a full month's difference in where these two clusters were in their annual cycles. Another question one might want to pursue to the end. I realize that I don't have the brain power or persistence to stick with all questions that come to mind for any length of time. If I had chosen to specialize, say, when I was studying reptiles in graduate school, I might have given up on birds, mammals, fish, flowers, lichens, mosses, rocks, weather, etc., except insofar as they bore directly on my study of a particular reptile. My zoology buddies from Tulane chose to specialize - one in herpetology, one in parasitology, another in medicine, and I remain an enthusiastic generalist. I realize that I enjoy pondering lots of questions, but only pursuing some via library research and/or further observation. I am grateful for the ease with which information others have gathered is so much more readily available to the general public than when I was in college. The main purpose of this blog is to share my enthusiasms in the hope that more people will care enough about our amazing planet to want to protect it.
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Friday, July 20, 2012
The top photo is of this morning's beetle, the California Prionus, technically Prionus californicus.
As for common names, besides California Prionus, it is known as the California Root Borer, Pine Sawyer, and Ponderous Borer, among others. It can grow to nearly 2" long. Click on the photo for a look at the details.
Last week's Cerambycid (2nd photo) was the Spined Wood Borer, Ergates spiculatus. It is the largest beetle in western North America, often exceeding 2" in length. Note, both of these beauties have impressive jaws and can bore through wood. However, they don't move very fast and are not difficult to handle safely.
While they look similar, their habits are quite different. The Prionus lives on hardwoods and can bore into Oak, Maple, Madrone, and other live hardwoods. On the other hand, Ergates bores into dead and dying pine and fir, especially after a fire. While it doesn't harm healthy live trees, it can quickly reduce the value of burned timber that might otherwise be available for salvage. I'm for letting the beetles have it!
ANother exciting find of the day was a shiny metallic blue beetle, around 1/3" long, I found an a leaf of Spreading Dogbane. Since Dogbane is a kind of milkweed, it wasn't too surprising to find this was a Blue Milkweed Beetle, Chrysochus cobaltinus.
Today's fourth photo is of a Red-shouldered Ctenucha moth, Ctenucha rubroscapus. I've posted photos of this beauty recently. I'm repeating it here because I took this oe without a telephoto lens. It was only afoot away from my face when I turned toward the bush it was on. I haven't identified the bush, although it looks a lot like an Elderberry. When I first discovered this moth a few summers ago, I saw it only on Pennyroyal. This summer, besides seeing it on the aforementioned shrub, I'me still seeing it on Pennyroyal, but also Brewer's Angelica and Spreading Dogbane. Now I'm wondering if it is feeding and/or laying eggs on all these plants. They're plentiful this summer, so I'll keep on watching.