Tuesday, June 23, 2009

grunion greeting, 2009 #9

black-crowned night heron
new moon (11:15pm-12:45am), cloudy skies

It still amazes me how bright it is out when the skies are cloudy. Zero, nada, zip grunion observed. Phooey, times 2! The water was very shallow over large areas such that if there were grunion around, we would not have seen them.

Our ol' friend Charlie was at his usual spot when we first arrived at 10:53pm to Del Monte Beach. I'm back to debating whether he's a black-crowned night heron or not. He looks too elongated to be a night heron. Unfortunately, I can't get closer than this without spooking him and his dark areas don't photograph well against a dark background. It's no wonder we first thought he might be a grebe back in May. Hahaha, thankfully we came to the realization there's probably a reason why our Local Birds Quick-Guide shows some birds floating in the water and some birds standing. The only other night herons we've seen have been hunting from pier perches looking down at the water and look exactly like the pics I've seen. Charlie flew away 10 minutes after we arrived and right as other people were parking. We took his departure as a sign we weren't likely to have much luck spotting grunion.

However, it was an interesting evening of meeting people. Diane's h.s. teacher friend from the night before was there almost as long as we were. Then there was a group of a dozen teachers from around the country led by a guy from MBARI who went to grad school with Dr. Martin who also confirmed it was the full moon in July of 2007 when the last big run was observed. Apparently the Monterey Airbus driver was kind enough to drop a few of these teachers off directly at the pier. We also met a Monterey City worker who, after spotting the chap with a metal detector, claimed his third cousin sold a Spanish gold coin he found down the beach for $36K. Entertaining to say the least.

We left at 12:35pm.

Hooker's evening primrose
Oenothera elata ssp. hookeri

I'm not going to even try to look this one up since I have several more posts I'd like to get done this morning. We found it Tuesday along the rec trail growing in one of the many, nasty PG sewer drainage ditches that empties into the "pristine" marine sanctuary. I have good reason for refusing to swim in the bay.

ps 05/09/10 - I had this listed under unknown and non-native for quite a while and hadn't gotten around to looking it up. I feel silly for not knowing what it is, but it shows how much I've learned over the past year. I also saw it during our trip to Morro Bay (San Luis Obispo County) shortly after this original post and figured it was a native, not a drainage ditch escapee. The other subspecies is O. elata ssp. hirsutissima, but my Spring Wildflowers book states it occurs further inland up to 9,000 ft.

about my photos

California poppy
Eschscholzia californica

The state flower. Most poppies I see are a solid orange. I loved the red coloration of this one found along the rec trail. I confirmed it was indeed a California poppy because it had the identifying red ring just below the petals. According to Vern Yadon's Wildflowers of Monterey County other color variations beyond yellow to orange are liberated horticultural hybrids. It sounds as if Vern knows the person who released the poppy hybrids. Hmm...

On a related note - I often get asked if I Photoshop my pics, particularly my sunrise pics. As if! These questions are even more perplexing considering most of my photos are very poor quality. I barely have the patience to turn on the camera and shoot from the generic setting, let alone mess with anything more than the occasional zoom or crop to emphasize the item of interest. We have an old Konica Minolta DiMAGE X50 and 98% of these blog pics came from this camera; sometimes I may borrow a friend's camera. I'm still running Windows ME (I know, gasp! - please don't remind me how outdated I am) and until I finally decide between Windows 7 or a lovely, spendy Mac, our new camera purchase will have to wait.

ps 05/06/10 - Thanks to a fancy new iMac and iPhoto, I am starting to "enhance" some photos. I just hope I don't get carried away. And, truth be told, some photos I post were taken by my husband Andy.
male arboreal click beetle
Euthysanius sp.

I won't try to guess which genus this beetle is. I love the pectinate antennae. It was at our doorstep coming back from Monday night's grunion greeting past midnight, hence Tuesday's date. I played with its clicking ability for a while and was glad it didn't try to bite me with its visibly impressive mandibles. Poor little fellow had some difficulty flying away and kept hitting obstacles as if it were drunk.

ps 07/18/10 - For a great post on the mechanics of the click, check out The Dragonfly Woman's post.

pss 08/19/11 - I originally posted this simply as a click beetle in the family Elateridae. Thanks to a comment by Ted at Beetles in the Bush and a recent click beetle post by biobabbler, I revisited click beetle ID. I'm fairly sure of the ID to genera, but I have no reference to check if it is the well-documented E. lautus. According to Evans and Hogue's Field Guide to Beetles of California there are 5 species of Euthysanius and aproximately 300 species of Elateridae in California alone. Interesting to note the females do not have wings and have different shaped antennae. I think ID's can be extremely difficult for most beetle species, unless you're an expert.