Sunday, March 18, 2012

habitat ~ 03/18/12 ~ Frog Pond Wetland Preserve

March 18, 2012

The Frog Pond is a lovely quick jaunt outdoors that feels miles away from the trappings of town, even though this 17-acre natural spot sits in the middle of houses on three sides and a busy Hwy 218. One of the benefits of all those houses is that several have bird feeders in their backyards that abut the Preserve, which creates an amazing bird cacophony that drowns out the rumble of traffic. While I didn't find any dragons or damsels (Odonata) out yet, there were numerous tree swallows flying acrobatically over the pond. We also saw several coots and a few rusty-colored unidentified ducks, possibly cinnamon teals. Andy once spotted a bobcat here, so we always keep our eyes out for them, too. To see the Frog Pond through the seasons, check out my Frog Pond habitat label and scroll down.

As an aside, when I was checking to make sure the swallows we saw with bright white bellies and iridescent blue backs (the two white blurs over the pond in the second picture above) were indeed tree swallows and not barn swallows, I found this incredibly moving series of pictures from Taiwan. It's difficult not to anthropomorphize grief.

phellinus ~ 03/18/12 ~ Frog Pond

a polyphore fungus
Phellinus sp.

If I had to make a guess as to species, I'd say either Phellinus igniarius (click for information and photos here and here), which is often found on willow as I believe is shown above, or Phellinus pomaceus. As I was trying to locate a common name for these fungi, I discovered P. igniarius is sometimes called false tinder polyphore. Of course, I had to look up this unusual name. Come to find out there are true tinder fungus and false tinder fungus of various spp., which were primitively used for creating, keeping, and transporting fire. No kidding! Two sites I found with interesting, albeit somewhat contradictory, information about this tinder ability are Tinder Fungi of Illinois and Wildwood Survival.

Pacific willow ~ 03/18/12 ~ Frog Pond

Pacific willow
Salix lasiandra (aka Salix lucida ssp. lasiandra)

This is a large shrubby plant with some surrounding shrubs already with leaves out. This section of willows was found on the opposite side of the pond from the observation deck. I'm waiting to hear back from a CNPS member to double-check the accuracy of this ID. Our local Monterey Bay Chapter recently updated their published lists, and I think there may have been a mistake in the name changes that have occurred with Salix. I'll update once I know more.

ps 03/23/12 - I was in such a rush to post as we headed out camping that I didn't take as much time as I would have liked to look for a proper ID. As a quick cheat, I referenced an older saved CNPS Frog Pond Wetland Preserve Checklist and then compared it with the new 2012 version. In addition to arroyo willow (S. lasiolepis), the older version states yellow willow (Salix lucida ssp. lasiandra), the name of which has since been changed to S. lasiandra var. lasiandra. The newest checklist states yellow willow (S. lasiandra var. caudata), which according to both Calflora and Jepson is only found in the eastern part of CA nowhere near Monterey County or any of the surrounding counties. To complicate matters, the name yellow willow is commonly given to S. lutea. Additional native willows found in the local Monterey area are narrowleaf willow (S. exigua), red willow (S. laevigata), Scouler's willow (S. scouleriana), and Sitka willow (S. sitchensis). Confused, yet? Me, too.

After looking at numerous CalPhotos (linked from the pictures on the Calflora embedded links above), I'm starting to think this might be the ubiquitous arroyo willow, even though the stems didn't have the yellowish to reddish color I usually associate with arroyo willows. I want to do another visit to the Frog Pond in a few weeks to check the changes in the catkins and leaves.