Thursday, April 30, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

habitat ~ 04/24/09 ~ Rocky Creek

Rocky Creek
April 24, 2009

posted 07/26/11 - The day started out foggy as is typical here on the coast. That's my friend looking for soap plant off the upper road close to the cabin in the second picture. The sign was to keep people away from a calf carcass that was tethered on the hill. If I remember correctly, the Ventana Wildlife Society had asked various land owners if they could set out calf carcasses to lure condors to the coast, like a twisted breadcrumb trail on a large scale. The tether was apparently tied to rebar to keep the coyotes from moving the carcass. And, we guessed they were using stillborn calves, because they were easy to obtain and carry into remote places. It all sounded silly to me. By the time we searched for soap plant, headed down the lower road to the camp area, ate lunch, watched butterflies, and headed out, the sun had burned through for gorgeous views on our drive back to town.

Fremont's star-lily ~ 04/24/09 ~ Rocky Creek

Fremont's star-lily
Toxicoscordion fremontii (formerly Zigadenus fremontii)
Melanthiaceae (formerly Liliaceae)

posted 07/26/11 - This is my best guess for ID. There is a possibility that it could be meadow death camas (T. venenosum), but that has been found further down the coast and inland at higher elevations.

What prompted me to look up this older photo was a recent post on soap plant. I recalled a friend who wanted to check on soap plants that she saw past their bloom the previous year at Rocky Creek, but she couldn't remember when that was. I had no idea what to look for and she described the flower stalks as being very tall and thin. While we found wavy leaves sprouting from the ground, we also found these seed pods. At the time, we had no idea what they were and wondered how long it would take for the soap plant to mature. I should tell her to check for soap plant flowers from June-July.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

sunrise ~ 04/21/09 ~ at home

Pacific Grove sunrise from home
April 21, 2009

It was unusually warm here for about 3 days and the sunrise and sunset skies were very pink.

blossom ~ 04/21/09 ~ at home

unknown flowering fruit tree
from bathroom window

I'd ask our neighbor what this tree is, but (I think I've mentioned this before) she's not the most approachable person.

Friday, April 17, 2009

California lilac
Ceanothus sp.

The predominant color this spring has been blue - lupines and extremely lush Ceanothus blooms everywhere. A quick search of the Calflora database came up with 90 genera matches. I'm not going to even try to narrow this down to specific possibilities.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Edith's checkerspot caterpillar ~ 04/16/09 ~ Pinnacles

Edith's checkerspot caterpillar feeding on Indian warrior
Euphydryas editha feeding on Pedicularis densiflora
Orobanchaceae (formerly Scrophulariaceae)

Edited 05/24/14 - I originally posted this as variable checkerspot caterpillar (Euphydryas chalcedona).  When we went back 3 weeks later (from the westside on May 8, 2009, not the eastside as shown here), adult variable checkerspots were everywhere on flowers and mud puddles!  

Then, last year I went out with our local Monterey butterfly guy Chris Tenney, and he recalled Paul Johnson had told him Edith's feeds on Indian warrior, whereas variable is actually variable in its host preferences.  I have since confirmed directly with Paul that he has observed this host difference between these two look-alike local checkerspots. He's quite good at distinguishing adult Edith's from variable on the wing.  I changed the ID above from variable to Edith's.  Plus, I've seen first-hand both spp. flying together, so that May 2009 visit may very well have both on the wing.  Thanks, Paul!
western fence lizard
Sceloporus occidentalis

I know very little about lizards and initially guessed this was the very common western fence lizard. I looked at the range maps, but nothing near Pinnacles looked quite like the one shown above. There's so much variation in appearance within a lizard species/subspecies. Solely based on appearance, I think this could be a southern sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus graciosus vandenburgianus). However, this is not the sagebrush subspecies found in the area, nor is the species listed on the official Pinnacles herps list, so I'm keeping the western fence lizard ID.

Don't know if this was hanging around the big pile of poop for a reason or not.

ps 06/25/11 - I've edited the text above to reflect a better understanding of lizard species uncertainty.
Cuscuta sp.
Convolvulaceae (formerly Cuscutaceae)

This parasite is very strange to behold. It feels like slightly moist, stringy plastic strands. It took me until the Pacific Grove Museum's annual wildflower show to even know it was a native plant.

ps 08/03/11 - I've made corrections to the family name above. According to the Pinnacles plant list the 3 types of dodder are: San Joaquin dodder (Cuscuta californica var. breviflora), California dodder (Cuscuta californica var. californica), and canyon dodder (Cuscuta subinclusa). Without the flower there is no way for me to distinguish between species.

Yep, it's not the best picture, but I'm posting for the sake of continuity since I always take a picture of these turtles on Carmel Valley Road.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

harbor seal ~ 04/15/09 ~ Rec Trail

harbor seal
Phoca vitulina

It's pup season! The first pic is from one of Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station beaches where harbor seals can be seen year-round from the rec trail. The last pic is at the end of 5th street in PG where they fence off the area every year to rock-clambering tourists. There's been concern and some discussion in town around what to do if the harbor seals start moving onto Lover's Point Beach to have their pups. 2009 has been a very productive year for harbor seal pups. Some say their food supply is abundant this year.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter 2009 in the Highlands

our eggs

brightest flowers (roses) that caught my eye

Bird Island of Point Lobos

hidden egg

my favorite spring garden view

The blue yarn you see in the second and third pics above marks the boundary for egg hiding and hunting.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

checker lily / mission bells
Fritillaria affinis


Fun! Easy to miss while hiking, especially in very green areas.

ps 03/31/11 - For a really great post on checker lilies, check out Curbstone Valley Farm.

oak ~ 04/08/09 ~ Garland Ranch


I'm starting to really appreciate the beauty of CA's oaks with their craggly branches and "old" character. Unfortunately, as much as I've tried, I'm only able to identify white and black oaks. I know there are more and I want to look this up. I have this peculiar mental block around most trees and I always have a hard time remembering them.

sky lupine ~ 04/08/09 ~ Garland Ranch

sky lupine
Lupinus nanus

In 2006, we had hoped to see these blooming in time for our wedding, but there was too much rain that year and the season may have been delayed.

wedding tree ~ 04/08/09 ~ Garland Ranch

wedding tree

As per our now annual visit to this oak tree... it looks very different.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pacific gopher snake
Pituophis catenifer catenifer

I grabbed its tail with hopes to get it to move off the trail. There are so many mountain bikers at Fort Ord that I didn't want it to get run over. Much to my surprise, instead of slithering off, I could feel it vibrate like a couple beats of a cell phone's silent mode. Then it crouched as shown above. I'm guessing it was a young rattlesnake! I need to learn a little more about recognizing snakes. It still looks like a gopher snake to me.

ps 05/10/10 - I originally posted this under rattlesnake? Thanks to Cindy's comment below, this is confirmed to be a gopher snake (I corrected the ID above). I'll have to inform my mother-in-law. She was hiking with us that day and my pulling the tail of a baby rattlesnake has been one of her after-dinner stories. See Cindy's Dipper Ranch post for excellent rattlesnake information.

wild hollyhock / dwarf checkerbloom
Sidalcea malviflora

I'm fairly sure about this ID. Basing it solely on what looks similar.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Cooper's iceplant
Delosperma cooperi

This particularly bright ice plant was in someone's yard. These flowers are slightly bigger and more purple than what's found along the rec trail past Lover's Point. While it adds a splash of color to PG during the spring, I can't say that I'm in love with this plant.

ps 11/21/10 - For more information, also known as vygies, check out the maX files.
Bermuda buttercup
Oxalis pes-caprae

This is the first time I've witnessed Oxalis overtaking the neon pink/purple ice plant.