Sunday, October 31, 2010

habitat ~ 10/31/10 ~ Morro Bay

Morro Bay
October 31, 2010

This picture was actually taken from Los Osos looking back across Morro Bay and the State Park. I still haven't figured out if it's officially called Los Osos or Baywood Park. In any case, we were there for their annual Oktoberfest. This year they moved the bandstand and beer to the main street. It was a tad too loud and crowded for us, so we ventured through the neighborhood to walk off our full bellies of cheap (i.e., $3) and very yummy brats and tri-tip sandwiches.

Morro Bay feels more like a real bay to me with quiet waters compared to the much larger Monterey Bay at home. It's particularly nice this time of year with sun and very little wind. Around the corner in the second pic is the Elfin Forest. To the west is MontaƱa de Oro State Park, which Andy likes for the trail running.

monarchs ~ 10/31/10 ~ Morro Bay

monarch butterfly
Danaus plexippus

I can't say this picture of clustered monarchs is any better than last year when we visited Morro Bay. We laughed over the fact we drove 150 miles south and then looked for monarchs, when just down the street from where we live in Pacific Grove we have our own Monarch Grove Sanctuary. Silly, really. I still haven't made a visit to the local sanctuary yet this season to see their newly purchased eucalyptus trees... that may be a story for another time.

From a purely casual observation standpoint, there didn't seem to be very many monarchs this year, perhaps, even less than last year. I got a crick in my neck from looking up for so long in the very tall eucalyptus. I didn't include any links in the common and scientific names above, because I figure anyone can find information online about monarchs. More than half of what's available online doesn't go beyond a 1st grade level of understanding, anyways.

I want to give a shout out to Chris Grinter at The Skeptical Moth for being, well, skeptical.

ps 11/23/10 - I've been sent an e-mail asking about monarch numbers this year in Pacific Grove. I'm not associated with any of the following groups, disagree with some of what they say, and generally prefer to stay out of what is increasingly becoming a political fray... but thought I'd make a list o' links for reference:
Arizona Monarchs
Butterfly Digest
Monarch Alert
Monarch Grove Sanctuary January 2009
Monarch Watch Forum
Pacific Grove Message Board
Ventana Wildlife Society
Western Monarch Discussion Group
Xerces Society
sea otter
Enhydra lutris

Ah, now I remember why I don't post many pictures of sea otters... in my measly photos, they look more like big turds floating in water than anything identifiable.

CA horn snail ~ 10/31/10 ~ Morro Bay

California horn snail
Cerithidea californica

These shells are kinda of pretty with the blue on the fat end. It's somewhat odd to me that I found these in a town that I visited for many, many years for holidays where we always went to The Shell Shop. They sold the prettiest, polished shells from around the world for pennies. My mother liked keeping an abalone shell filled with various other shells as decoration on our main bathroom counter. Maybe it was a sign of the times. I don't know. I do remember not being particularly keen on cleaning them when they got covered in household dust during my weekly bathroom chores. Now, I feel a little repulsed by any collection of animal parts on display as art or decoration, without any knowledge of what they are. "Pretty" just doesn't do it for me anymore.

With a quick search online, I didn't find a decent site describing C. californica, but I'm fairly sure of this ID. Several sites mention the CA horn snail is similar looking to the introduced Asian horn snail (Batillaria attramentaria), which I've posted about before. However, when considering the location, relative density of the horn snails, and looking at pictures of each without being completely covered in mud, the visual cues seem fairly obvious. Despite my hesitation to promote online commercial interests, I found Conchology, Inc. to have an excellent pictorial comparison of snails in the Potamididae family.

ps 10/01/11 - I was asked this week for permission to use my photos of CA horn snails by a journalist from Pour la Science (apparently the French version of Scientific American). I was pretty chuffed that someone from France found my pictures and wanted to use them in a respectable publication, online and in print. During our e-mail communications, I pointed out that I am not a malacologist and that my IDs are my amateur best guesses. Hey, I really do try to be honest and up front. I'm not sure how that translated into French, but she ended up declining use and thanked me for my time. I remember how long it took me to make this Cerithidea californica ID, and I'm 95% sure I got it correct. Before granting permission, I admit to holding concerns about knowing exactly what the article was supposed to be about and whether to charge $ for use (more for those bloggers who use their blogs as a way to advertise their own professional photography; personally, I don't have much interest in that kind of thing). I did not ask pay for use, but I did ask to quote her e-mail request. She didn't respond specifically, so I don't have it available here. I was a bit disappointed my photos are not being used, and my ego got bruised. In any case, her article is already out: I assume she received permission from Conchology, which I embedded in my original post above, but she also got the credits incorrect - I seriously doubt Haderman had access to e-photography back in 1840. I think it'd be a tough job being a journalist and writing about things you know very little about.

pss 11/03/11 - I visited this place again to get better pictures and to double-check my ID. Please see my new post on CA horn snails.

white pelican ~ 10/31/10 ~ Morro Bay

American white pelican
Pelecanus erythrorhynchos

I'm still attempting to get a closer picture of the American white pelican; certainly, this is much better than what I've posted previously. They're huge! Maybe it's the bright white that makes them seem so much larger, but their 9 ft. wingspan is only half a foot longer than the brown pelican. Depending on the information source, American white pelicans can weigh as much as 2 times the size as brown pelicans. Seriously, how do those things fly?