Sunday, October 2, 2011

habitat ~ 10/02/11 ~ Monarch Grove Sanctuary

I don't have any pictures of monarchs here. We saw maybe 5, mostly clustered on one lone pride of Madeira bloom. We were told by the ever-active volunteer Tama O. that the majority of monarchs don't actually arrive until mid-November. Many tourists are a bit disappointed to see so few monarchs now, even though most everything about the Sanctuary states the butterflies start arriving by October. A lot has changed in the park since we last visited.

The pride and joy of Pacific Grove has been surrounded by death and controversy. Back in 2004, an elderly tourist was killed here by a tree that broke during a wind storm, hence the sign. My question is why would anyone go out looking for butterflies during a storm? The City settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $1 million. Since then, the City has done extensive tree removal and pruning, which raised the hackles of some monarch enthusiasts. Through private donations and some City funds, new trees were purchased and improvements made to this small 2.4 acre park. For more information about the Monarch Grove Sanctuary, check out the Pacific Grove Monarch Conservancy.

habitat ~ 10/02/11 ~ Pacific Grove Shoreline Park

I often take for granted how beautiful it is here in town. This is pretty much the views we get while driving home from the grocery store, although this day we were walking and exploring. On one side is the Pacific Ocean and on the other is Point Pinos Lighthouse and the Pacific Grove Golf Links with Crespi Pond.

Shoreline Park is a designation that the City of Pacific Grove calls public access coastal areas not otherwise designated as city parks. For the purposes of this blog and location labels, I consider all the unpaved path around the peninsula as Pacific Grove Shoreline Park, starting from Lover's Point (not Hopkins Marine Station) and ending where Asilomar State Beach begins. Ocean View Blvd. transitions to Sunset Dr. next to this unpaved path. I've called this the "poor man's 17-Mile Drive" previously on my blog. It's usually a great place to explore tide pools.

seaside daisy ~ 10/02/11 ~ Shoreline Park

seaside daisy
Erigeron glaucus

It sure is nice to have an ID that I don't have to extensively search. I'm a little surprised this is my first post of this common coastal flower. Interesting to note, my Introduction to California Spring Wildflowers of the Foothills, Valleys, and Coast book states the seaside daisy "flowers from April to August." That's true. However, I also have a habitat post that shows it blooms as early as February, and here's evidence it blooms as late as October. That's a significant difference in timing of blooms.

As part of my Nature ID blog, I'm attempting to document when plants actually flower around here and not simply repeat others' claims, which may not be entirely accurate. This is the reason why I am so particular about posting to the date of my photos.

red seaweed ~ 10/02/11 ~ Shoreline Park

red seaweed / red algae

Last year, during the period of time from the autumnal equinox through October, I captured brown algae (kelp) at Asilomar State Beach and green algae (sea lettuce) at the Monterey Municipal Beach. Without prior intention, I am completing my algae collection with red, even though not all red algae is actually the color red. Just like last year, I again heard the waves starting to crash just before the equinox, which likely break up whatever is growing near the shore. I'm impressed the ocean has seasons just like on land. Like leaves littered on the forests floors, the beaches are littered with seaweed during autumn.

As much as I wanted to place an ID, if only to genus, on this red seaweed, any guess I make would be pure speculation. I even had questions as to how the red seaweed I see on the beach is related to the harmless "red tide" algae. There are macroalgae and microalgae. Lost in the Landscape has an interesting blog post about red tide causing bioluminescent waves. It's all a bit confusing to me, and I've got a lot to learn.

The larger much more impressive giant kelp seems to get all the algae attention around these parts, and information on red algae is difficult to find. The best local sites I've found that picture red algae are:
Stanford's SeaNet Rocky Shore Red Seaweeds
Stanford's SeaNet Subtidal Red Seaweeds
MBARI's Monterey Bay Flora Rhodophyta
CSU Sonoma's Marine Algae of Northern California

blueband hermit crab ~ 10/02/11 ~ Shoreline Park

Pagurus samuelis

This is the first time I've really looked up hermit crabs. It's a challenge to find local hermit crab information, because most searches show pet hermit crabs from the Caribbean and Ecuador. I've collected better marine internet sources since my first hermit crab post on 06/04/09.

The blue bands on the legs, solid red antennae, location, and behavior make me fairly confident of this ID. We have a variety of hermit crabs here, including grainyhand hermit crab (Pagurus granosimanus), bering hermit crab (Pagurus beringanus), and hairy hermit crab (Pagurus hirsutiusculus).

Thanks to a nifty new interpretive sign, I learned the black shells with sanded tops and edges were made by black turban snails (Chlorosroma funebralis). There are a couple different snail shells being used by hermit crabs in the last picture. My wild guesses are possible Littorna sp. or Nucella sp. Stanford's SeaNet also has a nice representation of other subtidal shelled gastropods. And, I really like Gary McDonald's UC Santa Cruz's Intertidal Invertebrates of the Monterey Bay Area, CA site.

Make sure to click on any of the highlighted words (embedded links) for more information.

black-bellied plover ~ 10/02/11 ~ Shoreline Park

edited 10/10/11 - I originally posted this as best guess winter plumage western sandpiper (Calidris mauri). However, the larger size and short bill kept bothering me. So, on second thought, I think my last-minute guess was correct and have changed the ID for this post. The belly sure isn't black. For a nice picture of dark axillaries that Neil mentions in his comment, check out Carolina Bird Club. Of course, with the bright sunlight and my poor photographs, it could easily have been a shadow. What confirms the ID for me is the white, patterned-dipped tail tip shown in the second pic. I'm keeping the original post below so I can have notes for the future. I am not going to be a decent birder anytime soon. If anyone believes my ID is something else, please, please comment!

posted 10/09/11 - Shouldn't sandpipers be, you know, found on the sand? These sandpipers were much bigger than I think they should be. In fact, when I first spotted them from a distance I was thinking, "Oh good, a new species of gull for my blog." Ha! Nope. Good golly, Calidris and their relatives are so difficult to distinguish, especially with varying plumage depending on the age and season. Don Roberson lists 16 species of Calidris here in Monterey County. He also has quite a discussion of how western sandpipers are often mistaken for semipalmated sandpipers (Calidris pusilla), which was another possibility I was considering since it has a shorter bill.

ps - Argh! Maybe it's a winter plumage black-bellied plover (Pluvialis squatarola)? That would certainly explain the larger size.

Pacific silverweed ~ 10/02/11 ~ Shoreline Park

This plant reminded me much of a yellow-flowered woodland strawberry and with the fruit somewhat similar to that of a blackberry (click the second picture to better see the berries).

You'll notice above I have an aka, also known as. I check multiple sources before I decide if it should be aka or formerly. (Haha! Prince's "Purple Rain" just popped into my head. Should he've been the artist fka Prince? Sounds bad.) I've refrained from using the botany standard syn. for synonym, because often sources simply don't agree. Indeed, Jepson even suggests Potentilla egedii var. grandis as a synonym. Aka feels more appropriate if anyone wants to do an internet search under any of the names I provide.