Saturday, May 8, 2010

habitat ~ 05/08/10 ~ Fort Ord - BLM InterGarrison

Fort Ord - mima mounds
May 8, 2010

See the large lumps in the grass? I'd never heard of mima mounds until my husband pointed these out. During one of his trail runs, he found an interpretive sign at Fort Ord and took note since he grew up near a famous mima mound prairie in Olympia, WA. There's not much online information about mima mounds.

Fort Ord - vernal pool or wet meadow?

At what point does a wet meadow qualify as a vernal pool? Is there a difference? Often vernal pools and wet meadows are mentioned together when referencing where to find particular wildflowers, like the large flowered star tulip below.

large flowered star-tulip ~ 05/08/10 ~ Fort Ord

large flowered star-tulip
Calochortus uniflorus
CNPS 8th Edition Inventory

Superficially, this looks like the splendid Mariposa lily (C. splendens), but I checked where each was found. I see C. uniflorus only next to one particular wet meadow at Fort Ord. Plus, as a double-check, the large flowered star-tulip is listed as one of four species of Calochortus found at Fort Ord. During a hike last year on May 23, 2009, I saw two of the other Calochortus, a yellow Mariposa lily and a fairy lantern. Now, all I need to do is find a butterfly mariposa lily and I'll have my Fort Ord Calochortus collection complete.

pet peeves 2

posted 02/24/12 - I simply don't understand destroying trail signs that indicate a particular trail is closed.  We've seen this kind of vandalism since the summer of 2009 when they first started closing some of the previously opened trails.  Is someone protesting the closures?
purple owl's-clover
Castilleja exserta var. latifolia
Orobanchaceae (formerly Scrophulariaceae)

purple owl's-clover
Castilleja exserta var. latifolia
Orobanchaceae (formerly Scrophulariaceae)

an "odd form" of johnny nip
Castilleja ambigua var. ambigua
Orobanchaceae (formerly Scrophulariaceae)

Alrighty, this post on owl's clovers just about made me throw in the towel on continuing with this blog. Oh my goodness, I couldn't find decent IDs on any of these. What I provided above are my best guesses after looking over hundreds of pictures. I make no allusions that I key plants... or any of the IDs on my blog. I've heard remarks this method is not very scientific. Yeah, well, I'm not claiming to be scientific, but I do like to know what I'm looking at. In any case, I suspect there needs quite a bit of work done to straighten out this genus Castilleja. I'm seeking some help from someone I found online, so maybe I can reconcile these IDs.

ps 05/16/10 - I've already heard back from Mark Egger who is a CalPhotos contributor and specializes in Castilleja. I've made the corrections above according to his expert IDs. I'm also taking his cue by using variety and not subspecies in the scientific names. With big thanks to Mark Egger!!! I've added his Flickr stream under recommended ID links for Castilleja. If anyone can get Castilleja sorted out, he can.

LOL, my 3 guesses for the last photo of johnny nip were: Castilleja attenuata, C. densiflora ssp. obispoensis, C. lineariloba. Oh well...

alligator lizard ~ 05/08/10 ~ Fort Ord

California alligator lizard
Elgaria multicarinata multicarinata

Can you see it through the leaves? They move so differently than western fence lizards. While looking this up, I was amazed to see this video on CA Herps of the detached tail flailing about. How does it do that without being attached to the body and brain?

common coast paintbrush
Castilleja affinis ssp. affinis
Orobanchaceae (formerly Scrophulariaceae)

Last year I was too intimidated to ID the paintbrushes. There are 71 records in Calflora for the genus Castilleja. Oy! For this reason, I've held off posting my pics of them. Thanks to actually using a plant list for Fort Ord, I was able to narrow down my search for this paintbrush ID. My second best guess C. wightii ended up being the old name for C. affinis ssp. affinis.

They really are striking, and, no, I did not enhance the color of these pics at all (oh yep, I tried, but the red turns kinda funky with the enhance feature of iPhoto). These pictures were taken under the oak trees, about a 5 minute walk away from the lupine. Fort Ord really is an amazing place! And to think there used to be soldiers in training trampling through all of this, shooting at stuff left and right. We still find lots of empty bullet casings on the paths. I wonder how many of the soldiers got poison oak rashes?

wooly darkling beetle
Eleodes osculans

Do you have a hairy butt? Why, yes, indeed! I once used this question to distinguish between bumble bees (hairy) and carpenter bees (not hairy) in Ohio. Now that I'm looking at my beetle pics, thanks to my new Beetles of California book, I think hairy butt is the best identifier for this stink beetle.

sky lupine ~ 05/08/10 ~ Fort Ord

sky lupine
Lupinus nanus

There was a very impressive showing of sky lupine at Fort Ord. Wow! It smelled really nice, according to my hubby since a cold has taken out my sniffer. I liked how they appeared straight down from above; you'd almost never guess what it was. I couldn't believe the white one we found. I wonder how often that happens. CalPhotos has a picture of a white sky lupine, too. It was a challenge to take non-fuzzy flower pictures in the afternoon wind, but the lighting was amazing! These pics make me think of late-summer, due to the low lighting angle, but we all know lupines here in CA are definitely a spring bloomer and the grass turns bright yellow come June. Compare the density of the lupine to last year May 6, 2009 at the same location, and I thought that was the year of the lupine. Nope.

Steller's jay ~ 05/08/10 ~ J's place

Steller's jay
Cyanocitta stelleri

This pic was taken at a friend's house across town. It's more of a forest setting over there on the ocean side of the peninsula. I've never seen any Steller's by our place.

We have the pesky scrub-jays... and, yes, I'm still offering peanuts to them when they ask. Don't know if that was a good idea since there's this one scrub-jay in particular who stares in at me through the window, not-quietly waiting for me to go outside.