July 9, 2012

Smiles of a summer night

God only knows how many photos I've taken of dogs on this bed. You can see my big cur-dog Smoke, for one, at the top of the left sidebar. I took this photo of Jasper late last night. [As always, click to embiggen.] We're at the family cabin south of Big Bear Lake, in the San Bernardino National Forest.

I'm organizing a related Flickr set. Two, count 'em, two photos so far! Here's the link: Dogs on the bed.

June 20, 2012

Two hands, one camera, and a gopher snake

"She's a beauty!" And very mild-mannered. Big, too: over five feet long. She was found and photographed on a friend's property near San Timoteo Canyon and relocated to a safer spot nearby. A few more photos here, all thanks to the faithful point-and-shoot.

Pituophis catenifer annectens - San Diego Gopher Snake
[From California Herps]

May 21, 2012

Scarlet Tanager at Arrastre Creek

[Please be there on Wednesday... please be there on Wednesday...] First spotted on May 19 by Brad Singer, Eric and Elaine Tipton, and Sandy Remley, during their San Bernardino Mountains Big Day. Check out the lttle yellow-orange feather at the base of the tail. Beautiful, beautiful bird.

Update: Still there on Sunday afternoon, May 20.

May 20, 2012

Historic, in its own little way

On Friday afternoon, May 18, 2012, I spotted a big fox squirrel in my oak tree here in Pleasantville. First sighting of this species ever. A few more photos here.

These not-so-little guys were first brought to Los Angeles in the early 1900s, possibly from Tennessee, and they've extended their geographic range, as the biologists say. A 2004 study found them as far east as Claremont — you can read more about the study here. The next fox squirrel census is scheduled for 2014, and I am so ready. They better not trouble my dear western grays, is all I can say.

Solar Eclipse, 2012

Photo taken at 6:40 PM or so up in San Jose, California, by my most excellent sis. Click to embiggen.

Chez Robin

As Crush says, "Little dudes are just eggs, leave 'em on the beach to hatch, then coo-coo-ca-choo, they find their way back to the big 'ol blue."

Via the most excellent Fawnskin Flyer.

August 13, 2011

Incoming: Eurasian Eagle-owl

Feather trivia, because I was reminded of it while watching this owl fly in and prepare to land, or make landfall: as you all know, flight feathers are called remiges [singular remex] from the Latin for oarsman; tail feathers are called rectices [singular rectrix], from the Latin for rudder or helmsman.

The Eagle Owl in the video is a cousin of our North American Great Horned Owl — they are both eagle-owls, members of the genus Bubo. More eagle-owls!

Same vid with a few extra seconds added.

Speaking of owls: I saw a Long-eared Owl near Big Bear Lake last month — rather a rare sighting, lucky me. Horrid photos here.

July 11, 2011

I never see nuthin'

Aside from dozens of busy, vocal Pygmy Nuthatches and a sky full of Violet-green Swallows sailing in and out of their nests, there weren't many birds along the trail a few of us hiked Sunday morning.

[W]hen you go into the woods, even on the dullest of days, you never see nothing. [T-FB]

Not many birds — but a whole lot of other things to see. Exhibit A: thousands of ladybugs milling around their hibernating place under the pine needles. I snapped a picture of a handful of them, and got some Sticky Cinquefoil [Potentilla glandulosa, a member of the rose family] in the photo as well. Is Sticky Cinquefoil really sticky? Glad you asked: "It is usually coated in hairs, many of which are glandular, giving the plant a sticky texture." [Source.] Yes. Click the photo to embiggen.

This particular ladybug is Hippodamia convergens, correctly known as the Convergent Lady Beetle, thank you very much. "In the western United States, adult convergent lady beetles typically spend up to nine months, from May to February, hibernating in large aggregations in mountain valleys," sez Cornell. Check out these terrific photos at Cornell's Lost Ladybug Project. The Lost Ladybug Project is quite wonderful, and looks a bit like an eBird for ladybugs. From the home page:
Across North America ladybug species distribution is changing. Over the past twenty years several native ladybugs that were once very common have become extremely rare. During this same time ladybugs from other places have greatly increased both their numbers and range. Some ladybugs are simply found in new places. This is happening very quickly and we don’t know how, or why, or what impact it will have on ladybug diversity or the role that ladybugs play in keeping plant-feeding insect populations low. We're asking you to join us in finding out where all the ladybugs have gone so we can try to prevent more native species from becoming so rare.
If I'd known about the Project beforehand, I'd have taken better photos and sent them in. Next time...

Also check out this, from Cornell's site on biological control:
Commercial insectaries distribute beetles that have been "harvested" from natural winter aggregation sites. If lady beetles are collected in this dormant state and transported for field release, even among aphid infestations, they usually migrate before feeding and laying eggs. This migratory behavior before feeding is obligatory. Releases of such "harvested" convergent lady beetles could be a waste of time, money, and beetles. Insectaries may feed the adult beetles a special diet after they have been collected to minimize their migratory behavior. Only such preconditioned beetles should be purchased. Additionally, these harvested beetles may be parasitized.
More here. Food for thought before purchasing that bag o' beetles for your organic garden.

The trail to Sugarloaf Mountain, unlike the ladybug hike, was crazy with birds. More on that trip [with ossum photos by Pam Kling] soon.

[The title of this post was swiped liberated from this great entry over at Two-Fisted Birdwatcher.]