Sometimes when I’m birdwatching

Friday, June 14th, 2019

Sometimes when I’m birdwatching

Reposted from https://lies.tumblr.com/post/185598527226.

Sometimes when I’m birdwatching

Sunday, June 2nd, 2019

Sometimes when I’m birdwatching

Reposted from https://lies.tumblr.com/post/185323191241.

Sometimes when I’m birdwatching

Friday, May 24th, 2019

Sometimes when I’m birdwatching

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Sometimes when I’m birdwatching

Saturday, May 11th, 2019

Sometimes when I’m birdwatching

Reposted from https://lies.tumblr.com/post/184806313930.

Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)Carpinteria Salt Marsh…

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)

Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve, 2019-05-08

Reposted from https://lies.tumblr.com/post/184767958800.

House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)Carpinteria Salt Marsh…

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)

Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve, 2019-05-08

Reposted from https://lies.tumblr.com/post/184765703596.

Sometimes when I’m birdwatching

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

Sometimes when I’m birdwatching

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/183728196026.

Sometimes when I’m birdwatching

Saturday, December 8th, 2018

Sometimes when I’m birdwatching

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/180938132476.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea)Carpinteria Salt…

Thursday, October 25th, 2018

Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea)

Carpinteria Salt Marsh, 2018-10-02

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/179434850173.

Sometimes when I’m birdwatching

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Sometimes when I’m birdwatching

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178935010796.

Sometimes when I’m birdwatching

Sunday, October 7th, 2018

Sometimes when I’m birdwatching

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178820030481.

Sometimes when I’m birdwatching

Friday, October 5th, 2018

Sometimes when I’m birdwatching

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178771908966.

Sometimes when I’m birdwatching.

Tuesday, August 7th, 2018

Sometimes when I’m birdwatching.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/176759382626.

lies: One of the neat things about being a birdwatcher (also,…

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

lies:

One of the neat things about being a birdwatcher (also, granted, Pokémon Go player) is that it gets you out in the world, visiting interesting places. Yesterday I was walking through the marsh when another marsh enthusiast (Kim; I’m sorry I don’t know her last name) told me about a big bird that was flopping around in the bushes next to the Franklin Creek channel. I checked it out from across the creek, and could see that it was an adult osprey. It appeared to be attached by the legs to a length of fishing line that in turn was tangled in the bushes. The bird would try to fly, making loud alarm calls, then fall down into the bushes and lie there looking upset.

Kim was calling everyone she knew trying to find someone who could help; I started calling everyone I knew. Because it was a Sunday it was hard to get someone, but eventually Kim got through to someone who got through to Niels Lameijer, a Carpinterian who works with the Ojai Raptor Center as part of their rescue and rehabilitation program, and shortly thereafter he was on the scene. Here’s some video I shot of Niels rescuing the bird.

Warning: Includes a closeup toward the end showing the bird’s bleeding leg, impaled by the hooks of a fishing lure. So if you’re squeamish about that sort of thing maybe best not to watch.

In thinking about it, I think the likeliest scenario is that the bird dove onto the lure while someone was fishing with it, mistaking it for an injured fish (which, after all, is a lure’s goal). Presumably the human at the other end of the line then either cut the line or it broke, allowing the osprey to fly away.

I don’t want to think badly of the fisherperson(s) involved without knowing more about what happened. It’s possible they were fishing legally and just didn’t realize the osprey was interested in their lure. It’s also possible, though, that it was someone fishing inside the marsh, which is illegal, though I’ve sometimes seen people (usually kids) doing it along the nearby Santa Monica Creek channel. I’ve tended to turn a blind eye to that in the past, but if I see it in the future I’m going to be more vocal.

Niels sent an email today saying that the bird is doing well, and should soon be released back into the wild. I hope to see it flying over the marsh again soon.

Reblogging myself with the followup video of the bird being released in the marsh the next day (Monday). Nothing icky-looking about this one; just a beautiful raptor going back where it belongs.

Reposted from http://ift.tt/2thmIts.

One of the neat things about being a birdwatcher (also, granted,…

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

One of the neat things about being a birdwatcher (also, granted, Pokémon Go player) is that it gets you out in the world, visiting interesting places. Yesterday I was walking through the marsh when another marsh enthusiast (Kim; I’m sorry I don’t know her last name) told me about a big bird that was flopping around in the bushes next to the Franklin Creek channel. I checked it out from across the creek, and could see that it was an adult osprey. It appeared to be attached by the legs to a length of fishing line that in turn was tangled in the bushes. The bird would try to fly, making loud alarm calls, then fall down into the bushes and lie there looking upset.

Kim was calling everyone she knew trying to find someone who could help; I started calling everyone I knew. Because it was a Sunday it was hard to get someone, but eventually Kim got through to someone who got through to Niels Lameijer, a Carpinterian who works with the Ojai Raptor Center as part of their rescue and rehabilitation program, and shortly thereafter he was on the scene. Here’s some video I shot of Niels rescuing the bird.

Warning: Includes a closeup toward the end showing the bird’s bleeding leg, impaled by the hooks of a fishing lure. So if you’re squeamish about that sort of thing maybe best not to watch.

In thinking about it, I think the likeliest scenario is that the bird dove onto the lure while someone was fishing with it, mistaking it for an injured fish (which, after all, is a lure’s goal). Presumably the human at the other end of the line then either cut the line or it broke, allowing the osprey to fly away.

I don’t want to think badly of the fisherperson(s) involved without knowing more about what happened. It’s possible they were fishing legally and just didn’t realize the osprey was interested in their lure. It’s also possible, though, that it was someone fishing inside the marsh, which is illegal, though I’ve sometimes seen people (usually kids) doing it along the nearby Santa Monica Creek channel. I’ve tended to turn a blind eye to that in the past, but if I see it in the future I’m going to be more vocal.

Niels sent an email today saying that the bird is doing well, and should soon be released back into the wild. I hope to see it flying over the marsh again soon.

Reposted from http://ift.tt/2tJKsYq.

It’s my day to lead the docent tour at the salt marsh….

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

It’s my day to lead the docent tour at the salt marsh. Lately it’s been hit-or-miss; sometimes there are attendees, sometimes there aren’t. I hope I get at least one person. I’ve learned that’s all I need to have a fun time.

I do the tour each month and have been doing it for years, so I’ve learned which months are my favorites. September is a really good month. The chaparral mallow is still in bloom, and the coyote brush has started flowering, with the yellow male flowers out in profusion and the white female flowers beginning to do their thing.

There’s a decent high tide (5’) at 11:30, which is right around when the tour will be ending (if it happens at all). The marsh full of water is the best.

I’ll have a nice time if no one shows. But I’ll feel sad that I didn’t get to share it.

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I made another video. This one’s about high tide, and the…

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

I made another video. This one’s about high tide, and the coastline at Ash Avenue in Carpinteria, and the salt marsh that lies behind it.

My great grandfather used to hand-tint photographs (mostly of roses in his garden, if I remember correctly). My grandfather had boxes of the slides, and used to show them to anyone who was interested.

I guess this is my version of that.

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Insects associating with coyote brush (Baccharis pilularis) at…

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Insects associating with coyote brush (Baccharis pilularis) at the Carpinteria Salt Marsh, February 8, 2015.

My search for a Rhopalomyia californica emergence event continues. I’ve read that the adults, which only live a few hours, tend to emerge in the morning after a rain. It rained last Saturday, so on Sunday morning I went to the marsh hoping to catch them in the act. These photos show some of the bug-related things I found. (A companion post has non-bug-related pictures.)

I found a lot of galls, more than I’ve seen at any time since last year’s drought knocked their numbers down.

First row:

I didn’t find any R. californica galls with adults in the process of emerging, but I did find some with evidence of recent emergence. The first three photos above show what that looks like. First is a shot of my hand holding a gall to give a sense of scale. (Hopefully I’m not helping biometric-identity thieves by posting a photo of my fingerprints.) Next is a closeup of the same gall showing the leftover exuvia of several emerged adults, and finally an even closer shot of exuvia from a different gall.

I’m not sure how long the exuvia (which are the spent pupal case) remain on the surface of the gall, but I’m guessing it’s at least a few months. If I did a better job of monitoring individual galls over time, rather than just wandering through the marsh observing them on a particular day, I probably could answer that question.

Second row:

Most of the R. californica galls in the marsh are green or yellowish-green, but a few of them are magenta. I have no idea why that is. I’m not aware of any non-gall-related structures on coyote brush with that color. The biochemical/genetic interactions between gall-inducing species and their host plants are quite mysterious, especially to a layperson like me. I wonder if the magenta galls have different properties aside from color. Are they thicker-walled? Do they represent a genetic variation in the gall inducer, or are they just a more-or-less random result of the particular site on the plant where the adult midge lays its eggs?

The righthand image shows the gall of a different Rhopalomyia species, R. baccharis. This is what Russo (who first described the species) calls the “twisted stem gall”. The adult insect is indistinguishable from R. californica except by genetic analysis, but the gall is completely different. Instead of a fleshy round gall containing several larvae at the tip of a stem, R. baccharis creates a thickening of the plant stem that has a characteristic series of S-curves, with one larval chamber below each bend. This isn’t a very good shot of the gall itself, but it shows the gall’s characteristic elliptical emergence hole. That hole isn’t created directly by the larva; instead, there is some sort of communication that takes place between larva and plant that triggers the plant to create that opening at the time the larva pupates, clearing the way for emergence.

I wonder if there are advantages to developing inside the coyote brush’s stem rather than in a bud gall. The outer covering of stem galls is tougher, which I’m guessing helps protect the larvae from the ovipositors of parasitoid wasps. But that also means the larvae’s jaws probably aren’t adequate for chewing their way out, the way R. californica larvae do. It’s mind-boggling to think about the shared coevolutionary history between plant, gall inducer, and predators/parasitoids that led to the current situation.

Third row:

Here’s a photo of another one of my favorite coyote brush galls, that of the moth Gnorimoschema baccharisella. I didn’t notice it while taking the photo, but I think those may be two more G. baccharisella galls growing at the tips of the stems to the left and right of the large gall, with a fourth one visible in the photo’s lower righthand corner. My guess is that those are all from a single egg-laying session; unlike Rhopalomyia galls, G. baccharisella galls are monothalamous, meaning there is only one larva per gall.

The middle photo shows some kind of hide constructed from a number of leaves stuck together. I don’t have any idea what made it, and didn’t want to tear it apart to try to find out. I’m going to post my photos of it to Bugguide and see what Charley Eiseman thinks.

Finally, the Trirhabda flavolimbata leaf beetles are coming back, with a number of bushes showing signs of being munched by beetle larvae. Most of the larvae are still quite small; only a few millimeters long. This is one of the largest ones I found; it was about a centimeter. I wonder if this will progress to a full-on outbreak like it did last year, or if instead the beetle numbers will stay low, allowing the plants to escape widespread defoliation.

Previous ravings about the galls I talked about here are in these earlier posts: Baccharis pilularis galls at Solstice Canyon, Malibu (including bonus I Didn’t Write This content), and Bugs at the marsh.

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It rained yesterday, so I went to the marsh this morning hoping…

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

It rained yesterday, so I went to the marsh this morning hoping to see a Rhopalomyia californica emergence. I’ll post separately about my bug hunt, but in the meantime here’s the water and sky that kept distracting me.

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I visited the marsh this morning when it was a +6.5, which is…

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

I visited the marsh this morning when it was a +6.5, which is about as full as it gets. I love it like this. All that low marsh habitat, covered by Salicornia and a dozen other species, completely inundated, transformed for a few hours into aquatic habitat, before the tide goes out and they all go back to being land plants.

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