Thursday, May 28, 2009

habitat ~ 05/28/09 ~ Los Padres Dam

Los Padres Dam - Carmel River Trail
May 28, 2009

The Basin Complex Fire burned 162,818 acres, including this trail area, from June 21, 2008 - July 27, 2008. It's great to see the new growth after less than a year. It's eerily beautiful!

ps 04/21/10 - The similarity of themes from other nature blogs, especially those from CA, is great to read and share. Check out bioblabber's post on the aftermath of the 2009 Station Fire. She provides more information and has a fun blogging voice.

chaparral yucca ~ 05/28/09 ~ Los Padres Dam

Hesperoyucca whipplei

The blooming yuccas were extraordinary on the hillsides, like big white torches, but were too far away to take a good pic. We think the last pic above is of a burnt yucca stem base leftover from the fire.

California quail
Callipepla californica

Their behavior is so cute. I love seeing them, but they go for cover rather quickly.

ps 04/21/10 - Didn't I say many of my pics are fuzzy? Not that I care that much about aesthetics while hiking and simply wanting to document what I see. For an absolutely gorgeous shot of a male California quail, see John Wall's Natural California blog.

vivid dancer
Argia vivida

I don't have a good ID book for odonates.

We also saw several large, very fast, red dragonflies. I would initially guess that they were big red skimmers (Libellula saturata), but the wings seemed to be entirely red. It's possible they could have been dusty skimmers (Sympetrum illotum), but they seemed bigger than 40 mm. I may never know since I wasn't able to capture a picture of them.

ps 02/06/11 - Well, I finally looked into this damselfly, which was originally posted as an unknown. First, it's a bluet (Enallagma spp.) for sure, because it's wings are held close to the body, whereas dancers (Argia spp.) hold their wings up and away from the body. Since the abdomen appears mostly black from the top view, I've narrowed it down to 2 species: E. praevarum (arroyo bluet) or E. carunculatum (tule bluet). My picture does not clearly show the male appendages, so the next best thing is to consider the habitat. According to Don Roberson (his site is linked in the species names above), arroyos prefer rivers and small streams, while tules prefer marshes and ponds (both appropriately named). Unfortunately, this was taken near where Los Padres Dam spills into the Carmel River. Simply based on photos and previous records from Carmel River, I'm leaning towards E. praevarum. Thanks everyone for your comments!

pss 02/10/11 - Sigh, I've made another correction to the ID above, but I'm keeping my previous postscript to show how I reasoned my incorrect ID of a bluet. Kind thanks to Jim Johnson at Northwest Dragonflier and for helping me learn what to look for when identifying damselflies. With his permission, here's a snippet from his e-mails, "...because of the angle the wings are obscuring the abdomen and that's why there is so little pattern visible there. One thing that indicates that it's a dancer and not a bluet is the extent of blue at the end of the abdomen. On all the western bluets, the blue is limited to segments 8 and 9, and 10 (the last smallest one) is largely black, especially on the top portions. The western dancers (the blue ones, anyway) are blue across all three segments which is what this ones shows." Jim goes on to say, "The wing position is helpful, but you can't rely on it for distinguishing dancers and bluets." I wish Kathy Biggs, author of Common Dragonflies of California, had stated this versus making a point of dancers (with "wings held above abdomen") and bluets (with "wings at rest held alongside abdomen"). Don't get me wrong, her book is great for novice odonate fans like me and I still recommend it.

Gorgon copper ~ 05/28/09 ~ Los Padres

Gorgon copper butterfly
Lycaena gorgon
Lepidoptera > Lycaenidae > Lycaeninae

I'm basing this ID on the HW submarginal red-orange band of separated spots.

California tortoiseshell
Nymphalis californica
Lepidoptera > Nymphalidae > Nymphalinae
(larvae feed on Ceanothus)

I was surprised at how many of these I saw at Los Padres Dam. It was a very good spring for Ceanothus.

cutpetal bush monkeyflower ~ 05/28/09 ~ Los Padres Dam

cutpetal bush monkeyflower
Mimulus bifidus
Phrymaceae (formerly Scrophulariaceae)

Now, I'm not positive about the ID to species (M. aurantiacus?), but I'm sure it's a Mimulus. Los Padres has the prettiest monkeyflowers I have ever seen! The incredible color reminded us of the color of creamsicles. Wow! I only wish my camera could focus up close (hint, hint).

ps 07/10/11 - It looks like this flower is aka Diplacus grandiflorus. Also, it has been moved to the lopseed family, which I have corrected above.

seed ~ 05/28/09 ~ Los Padres Dam

unknown poofy seed pod

This caught my eye, but I have no idea to hazard a guess.

ps 05/25/10 - I'm thinking this might be a clover in seed.  Can you ID?

fairy lantern / white globe lily
Calochortus albus

I have never seen so many fairy lanterns in my life as I did at Los Padres!!! Wow!!! Everywhere we looked on the hillsides along the trail, fairy lanterns and more fairy lanterns. These had a beautiful pink tinge. They were sized smaller than what I've seen at Garland Ranch and Point Lobos, but bigger than at Fort Ord. Plus, there were multiple blooms on a stalk, unlike how I've seen them in the past with just 1-3 blooms.

Pacific madrone ~ 05/28/09 ~ Los Padres Dam

Pacific madrone
Arbutus menziesii

We always wondered what those small, colorful trees were that line several New Monterey streets off of Lighthouse Ave with bell-looking flowers and bright red, burry berries. It was hard to believe those landscape trees were the same as these very large beauties that grow out in the wild.

ps 06/22/10 - Well, I always try to learn something new. This wild species, A. menziesii, is native. The landscape trees in town are not and are a different species, A. unedo.