25 de mayo de 2022

City Nature Challenge Day 2

3:15am: The two first hours of sleep on the auditorium floor were rough and very uncomfortable. Then I put my lunch box under my knees and it was heaven (or just exhaustion maybe). When my alarm went off at 3:15, I just wanted to grab a hammer and smash my phone. But reason prevailed and I got up. Soon the excitement of knowing we would be walking through the tide pools in just a few minutes took over. Flashlights, headlights, camera, phone… Let’s go. It is a bit surreal to be in the tide pools in the dark. Walking around is extra challenging. The big surprise was the sheer amount of shrimp. Those are in hiding during the day, but a lot of them were out. The largest ones went into hiding when they saw the light but the smaller ones readily stayed out. We also saw a small octopus who was just hunting and not worrying a bit about our flashlights shining around. What a treat. As the tide came back up, we headed up the hill again. Some of us needed to get ready for the bird walk and other for the herpetofauna survey.
But first, @cjackson opened up his moth trap to reveal a great diversity of beautiful night flyers. We took photos and let them go. That was so special!!
We ran into the amazing Dana McLaughlin who was leading a group of students through small mammal processing technics. It’s all in the art of scuffing after you bag it up. Then let them go. It was special to see a big woodrat up close.
While @thumbwave headed to the bird walk where he found 18 different species, two herp groups headed by @steph_taylor and Kristen went out to check 7 arrays around the park. Our group went back down below (coastal side) to check four arrays. It was all worth it to see a pair of Orange-throated Whiptails who fell in the same bucket (great to compare both sexes), a California Swollenstinger Scorpion and a California Trapdoor Spider who didn’t care for our intrusion.
After this magical 24 hours, it was time to go back home for a meal and some much needed rest, or so I thought… until my husband suggested going to one of his favorite spot off Kitchen Creek Road in Pine Valley. Well, twist my arm. I thought “what would BJ do?” And I knew the answer to that one. My husband packed his trail angel cooler full of goodies for PCT hikers while I showered and lunched. And just like that, we were on the road heading east. I woke up as we exited the freeway and soon we parked at the trail PCT trail head.
This is a truly spectacular section on the iconic trail. The hikers were in for a treat. The blooms were gorgeous.
A favorite observation was of a sand wasp carrying and burying a prey. Thanks for @matthias22 for the ID and the behavior explanation! I always feel so fortunate when I witness an event like this one. Right time, right place: very satisfying :)
Going down to the river and seeing Rebman’s Silverback Fern for the first time was a treat. And since we are on the subject of Rebman, don’t miss @jrebman ’s talk at Mission Trails Regional Park on June 11th. More details here: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/san-diego-county-plant-atlas/journal/66423-field-class-june-11-with-jon-rebman
On the way back it was great fun spotting Dracotettix monstosus, it’s all in the name for this big funky grasshopper. And as the day slowed, it was time for the bees and sawflies to snooze and what a better place than a nice soft bloom to serve as a comfortable bed.
On that note, we headed home for a spectacular night sleep. I slept straight through the morning.

Publicado el 25 de mayo de 2022 a las 04:14 AM por patsimpson2000 patsimpson2000 | 14 observaciones | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

07 de mayo de 2022

City Nature Challenge Day 1

It's been a week and 20 hours and I'm just now done uploading all my observations. What a whirlwind!
It started at midnight Friday morning 4/29. I set up a sheet and black light in the backyard before going to bed and the alarm was a rude one at 11:50pm. As expected, there were only a few creatures that visited the trap due to low temperatures. After quick photos, I turned off the operation to set them free.
The next morning I was up at 6:30am to do birds in my Point Loma neighborhood. I don’t do a whole lot of birding anymore since I became “bug” obsessed. When I have my nose down to the bushes and the ground, I just don’t really see the birds (unless there are there eating the bugs). It was a treat to see a Western Tanager pair and a Black-Headed Grosbeak. Both of these species don’t reside here, they just pass by during migration. I got back home in time for a snack and headed to Cabrillo National Monument to run my 2-hour bee survey on a tide-pool transect. The blooms, though better than last year, are shy and so are the bees. I was surprised by a few Carder Bees species (genus Anthidium) feeding on California Dodder. Metallic Sweat Bees (subgenus Dialictus) also ignored the California Buckwheat to feed on the smothering Dodder. Last year toward the end of April, I ran a survey on the same patch of blooming Dodder and not a native bee was to be found. Another treat was the smallest praying mantis I've ever seen. It looks like a small twig pushed by the wind. In fact, I dismissed it as such at first and then noticed the movement was just different. Trying to photograph a moving "grain of sand" is definitely a challenge!
After the survey was completed, I chose to head back to the parking lot via the road, hoping I would maybe see something different. Just before I reached the lot, I saw a snake moving at a great pace above the vegetation and heading straight toward me. I froze and the snake kept coming. My initial reaction was “that’s probably a Gopher Snake” and by the time my pea brain processed the pattern and head shape, I realized I was starring at a Southern Pacific Rattlesnake. Only it wasn’t starring back at me. So I moved (and grabbed my camera at the same time, out of habit) to make myself known. The snake froze about four feet from me. He stared at me, I stared at him and we stared at each other like this for a few second. Then he decided he didn’t want to be my best friend after all (I’m totally cool with that, our Zodiac signs were probably incompatible anyway). He changed course to head back up the slope while a snapped a few shots. What a lucky and special encounter. Be still my heart!
After the survey, I went back home for a quick lunch and rest. I knew the night was going to be a long one.
My shift at Cabrillo started at 8pm, but I showed up a little early to set up my sheet and laundry baskets with UV lights. The wind made the whole operation very challenging and I was grateful for the help of @carrotpeople, @thumbwave and @cjackson, who helped me out with sandbags and set up. What a treat to have these accomplished naturalists participating in the Cabrillo National Monument 24hr Bioblitz! As the Bat Team headed by @steph_taylor and the amazing Kristen started up toward the lighthouse, us ‘buggers’ stayed behind and waited for the small creatures of the night to flock to our traps. The trap worked on @u_phantasticus, @jessmullins, @alantorretto and @drsalty who all flocked to them to check the buzzing action. We also walked around the park to see other night crawlies. We checked under wood board for scorpions, none found :(
We finally wrapped up our business around midnight and headed for some much needed rest after setting our alarm clocks to 3:15am for an intertidal survey.
A big thank you to all the participants.
@biohexx1 I’m sorry I missed you. I know you were there as well, we just never ran into each other! Thanks for coming down to the park!

Publicado el 07 de mayo de 2022 a las 06:00 PM por patsimpson2000 patsimpson2000 | 16 observaciones | 6 comentarios | Deja un comentario

20 de mayo de 2018

Macro with spiders

I am really getting into macro and insects, but there's so much to learn! I as I'm doing research, I will try to post things I think might be helpful and will try on new things.
I will try this technique here with spiders and see if I can get better pics.

Publicado el 20 de mayo de 2018 a las 06:40 PM por patsimpson2000 patsimpson2000 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario