Journal archives for August 2021

15 August, 2021

Pedro Point Headlands for my iNativersary

Yesterday I went on my iNativersary walk with nine friends, to celebrate the ninth year of iNatting for me. My iNativersary personal practice is to go somewhere local that I've never visited before, or never iNat-ted before, and do a mini-blitz with my friends.

We had a lovely day along the trail system, where the fog belt has contributed to some plants blooming later than in the rest of the county, like Ceanothus. There was an abundance of Red Beard Lichen (Usnea rubiconda) and many Monterey Pines scattered around the coastal terrace prairie. The two trails we took - the South Ridge Trail and the Arroyo Trail - form a natural loop. The South Ridge Trail is largely elevated and open, with some steep climbs but remarkable views. The Arroyo Trail is at a lower elevation, with more plant variety.

While birds were not omnipresent, due largely to the season, we had an unusually high number of found feathers. Many of them - at widely separated locations - were of Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus). It makes me want to come back and listen/look for them at some twilight hour, especially in late winter/early spring. Many members of my group were also convinced that this could be a bonanza for fungi and slime molds come winter.

Many thanks to my amazing iNat community on this walk: @dpom , @elkman22 , @virusmanbob , @sea-kangaroo @cmaci , @christinnew , @tui , @merav and John E.

Posted on 15 August, 2021 04:41 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 5 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Exercise, Attention and Serendipity

Today, after yesterday's iNat immersion, I had other work to get to, and then I delayed exercise-walking to watch the end pf Tyler Gilbert's no-hitter for Arizona against San Diego. By the time I left the house for my neighborhood walk it was 7:45 pm, and most birds had gone to roost.

To meet my exercise goal, I did not want to stop too much, but to meet my iNat minimum of one entry/day, I had to stop somewhere - and soon, as it was getting dark. On Bucknell Drive, I spotted a cultivated neighborhood tree with Gold Dust Lichen (Chrysothrix candelaris) on the trunk. I got set to take the picture, when a fly came in.

I have a category of observations that I have playfully named "Random Diptera" sightings. Most of these are a few common Calyptera species that land in my way. But I've learned some things by concentrating on flies - patience, slow movement, and trying for multiple angles to get the shape of the body. This fly, though, defeated me. It would stand perfectly still, but I was literally having a difficult time telling the head from the tail. The posture and behavior were odd. The fly itself was about 60% the size of a Lucilla species. iNat has tentatively identified it as in the genus of Woodpecker Flies (Medetera).

It was only the combination of disciplines - Exercise, my eBird and iNat streaks, my ongoing attention to flies, and the serendipity of stopping when and where I did - that made this possible. Before I practiced such things, how much escaped my attention, both actually and metaphorically?

Posted on 15 August, 2021 04:52 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

16 August, 2021

Animals and Society in My Neighborhood

A nice neighborhood walk at mid-day brought me to a house where I could hear people talking in a small family group. It made me reflect on COVID times, and their unfortunate ongoing continuity, disrupting these sorts of little family gatherings.

And then...a Bewick's Wren chimed in. It was a magical counterpoint to witness - and record.

Posted on 16 August, 2021 01:28 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

18 August, 2021

The Naïvete of Youth

On another neighborhood walk, I heard a rather frantic jumble of Anna's Hummingbird scolds. I gave a little "pish," and up hopped a very pale young Calypte anna. It perched on an open branch, and eyed me suspiciously from a few different angles. I think younger animals are learning their environment, seemingly with wide-eyed curiosity. Or perhaps I anthropomorphically project

Posted on 18 August, 2021 04:45 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

19 August, 2021

San Bruno Mountain: Old Ranch Road Trail

Today I did some coverage along the Old Ranch Road trail, from its start to the spot about 3/4 of a mile where it officially leaves the park. At one point I went into a small copse of conifers, and evidently this move of mine set some California Quail into semi-alarm mode. I could hear their little bubbling noises, and when I emerged, I saw them ahead of me on the road, a group of four. Very well-marked. This is a species that reveals itself in quiet moments.

Also I recall that @metsa had mentioned that Hereodermia leucomelos, Elegant Fringe Lichen, was more common on San Bruno Mountain than in other places. Just that hint, and my senses were more alert. I was very happy to find one today!

Posted on 19 August, 2021 05:41 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

20 August, 2021

Cute Insects

Insects don't get much respect for their beauty, with the exception of butterflies. But they really have their cute side. Today on a neighborhood walk, I found an Outer Bark Louse with cute big eyes, and then, best of all, a sleeping beetle inside of a rose petal.

Posted on 20 August, 2021 02:15 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

22 August, 2021

Birding and Baseball

I really love birding while at baseball games. It is like a Big Sit with entertainment. I've attended more games at the Oakland Coliseum than any other venue, and it has a few good features - a wide-open sky, a large adjacent parking lot, and a moat around that lot. So water birds - like herons and egrets - can occur, as well as birds of prey and plenty of gulls.
Today's game in Oakland was poor in number of species, but it generated a new bird to my Coliseum list - a Belted Kingfisher! It makes some sense that it would be there, because of the moat, but not to fly over the stadium silently while a game was in progress. Peggy spotted it first, and through some miracle I got a poor-but-still-identifiable picture.

Posted on 22 August, 2021 04:40 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 1 observation | 3 comments | Leave a comment

24 August, 2021

Our Geographic Range

Dear Students - I am already happy with our geographic range - from Monterey to the North Bay! And I know some non-US entries are coming soon too. The map is available on the home page of our project.

P.S. I have a personal vow to upload at least one new iNaturalist entry every day, and often do much more than that. Don't let my practiced hand at this intimidate you; I hope it inspires a few of you, in fact! But you are required to do one/week. The project enables me to check on your sightings easily, without having to look you each up by name every time.

If people like the idea, we could run a contest for highest number of observations and highest number of species (excluding me). LMK

Posted on 24 August, 2021 20:10 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 0 comments | Leave a comment

25 August, 2021

Urban Great Horned Owls

Lately I have been finding a lot of feathers belonging to Great Horned Owls. A few have been right in our neighborhood. We have heard good ol' Bubo virginianus from our back windows, but there is suitable habitat in that direction. The feathers I am finding have been in very seemingly inhospitable places.

Posted on 25 August, 2021 04:49 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment