Monday, July 6, 2009

habitat ~ 07/06/09 ~ Elkhorn Slough - Kirby Park

Elkhorn Slough - Kirby Park entrance
July 6, 2009

We would have hiked at the official (and very well-maintained) Research Reserve, but it's closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Kirby Park mainly provides water access for kayakers, but there's a short Upper Slough Trail. It's been neglected for a bit and the prevalent graffiti and vandalism makes me think this may be how our state parks are going to look by next year. As I google this extraordinary place that is Elkhorn Slough, I'm getting confused as to who owns what lands and which organizations are responsible. What do they say, it takes a village...
western pygmy-blue on pickleweed
Brephidium exile on Salicornia virginica
Amaranthaceae (formerly Chenopodiaceae)

Oh, how I wish my camera could do close-ups in focus. This was a beautiful, bright orange copper that posed for the longest time. There was a little bit of gray shading above near the body. Below it was a solid gray with no distinguishable markings.

ps 03/07/10 - I originally posted this under "unknown copper butterfly" with the label * can you ID?, but thanks to Art Shapiro's help on another post, he helped me ID this, too. Here's what he said, "Decided to explore your blog and found I can help you with another ID. Your "unknown copper butterfly" of July 6 09 is actually a female Pygmy Blue, Brephidium exile. Note that it is sitting on a Pickleweed (Salicornia), presumably in a salt marsh. Pickleweed is one of its host plants, and saline and alkaline marshes are its native habitat. Check it out on my site. Your other butterfly IDs are all correct--congratulations!" Again, thanks Art!

As a side note, I've added the label blue butterflies, not because the butterflies are necessarily blue in color, but to group the subfamily Polyommatinae together.

ps 08/03/11 - What was once the goosefoot family is now included under the amaranth family by APG and followed by Jepson.

willet and killdeer ~ 07/06/09 ~ Elkhorn Slough

We saw this old interpretive sign (I still don't understand the need to graffiti) and tried to keep our eyes out for the California clapper rail, a state endangered and federally endangered subspecies.

possible California clapper rail
possible Rallus longirostris obsoletus

We spotted a bird that looked just like the sign, complete with grass and everything! So we got excited. Unfortunately, we saw a bird take flight from behind the grass and it had the distinctive flashy black and white wing pattern of the willet. We're not sure if it was the same bird or two different birds in the same area.

willet & killdeer
Catoptrophorus semipalmatus & Charadrius vociferus

On our return trip, we were positive about these IDs.
salt marsh dodder on pickleweed
Cuscuta salina on Salicornia virginica
Convolvulaceae (formerly Cuscutaceae) and Amaranthaceae (formerly Chenopodiaceae)

I first posted dodder from my Pinnacles hike on April 16, 2009. I found it interesting that this dodder was on pickleweed, considering I would assume there's high salt content. I don't know enough about how the salt is stored in pickleweed or how the dodder obtains it nutrients from plants to explain this.

ps 05/09/10 - By happenstance, I came across this Elkhorn Slough Research site and was able to confirm IDs of both plants to species. A better summary of the research is here. Interesting to note Wikipedia says recent research has placed dodder in the morning glory family (Convolvulaceae), but I'll stick with Calflora until they make a correction. Plus, pickleweed is now being placed in the amaranth family (Amaranthaceae). And, no, the Katie in the article is not me.
ps 08/03/11 - Both dodder and pickleweed have been moved to new families by APG and followed by Jepson.
unknown caterpillar

I'm starting to collect more unknowns than positive IDs. This fellow had fallen off its host plant, one of many possibilities, onto the trail. Can anyone recommend a good caterpillar book for native CA species?

ps 04/29/10 - Thanks to a series of blog comments, I now have this information from a reputable source, "skepticalmoth said... Well, sad to say there really is nothing. The new book, "Moths of Western North America" is spectacular - but only has a few small plates of caterpillars in the back. If you think it's a butterfly there is "Butterflies of Southern California" - long out of print, and has b/w caterpillar illustrations (not bad though). There is also "Caterpillars of the Pacific Northwest" - beautiful photos and it is FREE. This last one is probably the best bet for CA, but far from perfect." The link to the bioblabber's blog post is here.

ps 03/20/11 - Maybe Apantesis?

coast gum plant
Grindelia stricta

What struck me with this plant was how unopened buds exuded a shiny milky substance.

ps 05/09/10 - Originally I had this labeled as an unknown. I then looked for "gum plant" online because that's what some folks from Elkhorn called it. My first ID of this unknown was Grindelia robusta and was incorrect. Thanks to a plant list for Elkhorn Slough, I trust the new ID above.