Tuesday, July 31, 2012
It is amazing how similar the purple honey creepers, members of the tanager family, Thraupidae, are in form and diet when compared to the Hawaiian honey creepers who are members of the finch family, Fringilidae. Both have evolved long, curved beaks for accessing nectar from long curved flowers. In the case of the purple honey creeper, the primary food is nectar from bromeliad flowers. In the case of the hawaiian honey creepers, it was nectar from members of the lobelia family. Fascinating how birds from different families located thousands of miles apart, relying on different totally different plants, with, ironically enough, similarly shaped flowers, could evolve in a parallel manner.
Monday, July 30, 2012
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
The Striped Shore Crab (Pachygrapsus crassipes) is locally abundant in the tide pools and lives at the edge of the tidal zone. It lives off of the film of algae and diatoms on the rocks as well as various detritus and carion.
Black Turban Snail (Tegula funebralis) (shown on the lower left) also lives in the tidal zone and is found all up and down the Pacific coast of North America. This snail is an algae eater.
Nassarius species (lower right, upper left). I'm not sure of the ID of this species. I suspect it is a Nassarius of some sort and is a carnivore, boring into the shells of other shoreline gastropods for a quick meal.
Green Surf Anemone (Anthopleura xantogrammica) (center). The green color arises from symbiotic photosynthetic algae that provide nutrients to the anemone. The anemone also uses stinging cells called nematocysts to paralyze larger prey such as snall crabs or fish. The anemones are themselves preyed upon by sea stars and nudibranchs.
Keyhole limpet (Fissurella species?): Upper left. These little molluscs rasp the rock for algae.
There were many other things in that little pool, some in view, some cropped out. The amazing thing is that most people will walk by and never notice any of the tremendous diversity in these tiny little pools. A few will stop and see some of it. A very few will stare long enough to notice that there are more things in those pools than you and I can ID in a quick blog. Fun or just a little nerdy? You could, after all, lie on the sand with the other 95% of the people with much less effort! Hmmm...?
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Friday, July 20, 2012
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Sunday, July 15, 2012
I had been timing my return, hoping to see lots of least tern chicks, the eggs having been in the nests for about 2-3 weeks. They should have hatched in the last week. In three more weeks, the fledgling terns would have been able to fly.
It is truly sad seeing a whole generation of terns wiped out, even if by natural causes. In a discussion after the fact, I asked a conservationist staffer on the beach when it happened. She noted that there was a particularly high tide a few days ago which was probably the culprit. She also noted that they are not set up or funded to rescue the eggs from the tides into the safety of incubators. There was simply nothing they could do. Thus, those weeks of erecting protective signs to keep people and pets out from the nesting area, of carefully labelling each nest with popsicle sticks and of building little wood shelters to protect the chicks from marauding gulls ultimately were for naught.
It is tempting to point to global warming and increasingly fickle, tempermental weather and tides or to all those condominiums on the beach that have relegated the least terns to the shifting, somewhat polluted sands of the Tijuana Estuary, a last bastion that developers simply do not want to build upon. Perhaps, it is just nature giving and taking away as it has always done. There is, I suppose, always next year.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Monday, July 09, 2012
Sunday, July 08, 2012
Friday, July 06, 2012
Umber Skipper (Poanes melane) taking a sip of nectar on Ice Plant (Gasoul crystallinum). The caterpillars feed on grasses and sedge. The adults on nectar. Dog Beach/Ocean Beach, California.
Thursday, July 05, 2012
Odm cordatum 'La Jolla' JC (commented for having three anther caps on each flower).
Wednesday, July 04, 2012
Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana), one of a pair of Western Bluebirds living in a large Ficas macrophylla in Balboa Park (talk about adaptation to foreign introductions!). Perhaps the fig berries or the plentiful tree cavities among the ficus roots proved to be an enticing home. Perhaps the insects attracted by the fallen fig berries were the main feature. In either case, these beatiful birds of the foothills normally nest in tree cavities made by woodpeckers; in pre-human Southern California, they were therefore restricted to the foothills where the arid sage scrub gave way to pine forest. However, the extensive planting of large trees in urban areas has resulted in an urban migration of these beautiful birds. You can attract them to your yard by providing bluebird nestboxes and a source of water. Berry-bearing bushes/trees such as Toyon berries help too.