Saturday, February 3, 2018

An Illustrated Life List: California Condor

My family and I were lucky enough to see a California Condor soaring in the wild on a recent trip to California.  One of the only 230 California Condors in the wild.  What makes the sighting more amazing is that these birds were extinct in the wild by 1987, with the only living California Condors being in zoos.

We saw it along California's spectacular Big Sur coast.  I had my eye out for condors the whole time we drove on along the narrow, twisting State Route One.  Numerous Turkey Vultures were gliding above, below and along the cliffs we drove along.  I stopped frequently to look more closely at these, trying to turn a Turkey Vulture into a condor.    When I finally did see the condor it was obvious at a glance, there was no mistaking it for a Turkey Vulture.  Even high up it's larger mass was obvious.  It was solid and steady instead of buoyant and wobbly like a Turkey Vulture.  We saw it flap twice, a distinctive movement were the bird seemed to instantaneously transform from a plane into a broad "U" and back again. 

Despite the near constant views of stunning scenery we actually saw the condor while in a sort of valley with the ocean barely in sight, pulled off the side of the round next to some gravel piles.  Which seems about right.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Flies That Aren't Flies: Spring Fishfly



I found these Spring Fishfly larvae last week in some holes I had just drilled into the ice.  They were new to me, so I did a little research, summarized below.


Spring Fishfly at Bug Guide

Megaloptera Identification from "Aquatic Insects of Michigan" website by Ethan Bright, University of Michigan



Sunday, January 14, 2018

Como Conservatory Sunken Garden - December 2017


My family visits the Como Conservatory every year on Christmas eve day.  We visit periodically throughout the year.  I especially appreciate visits during the winter months.  The greenery, the smell of flowers and soil, the humidity and warmth all have a rejuvenating effect.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Trip Report: Bay Area to Big Sur, Dec 29 to Jan 6



1.  Black-crowned Night Heron at KFC
Oakland has an urbanized population of Black-crowned Night Herons centered around Lake Merritt.  We were surprised to see one hanging out at Kentucky Fried Chicken with a bunch of Pigeons.

2. Golden-crowned Sparrow at the Golden Gate Bridge
 First life lister of 2018 seen on January 1st.  An auspicious start to the new year.

3. Tide Pools
They were incredible!

4. Pelagic Birding
Six birds added to my life list on this three hour cruise.  Saw some whales too.

5. Burrowing Owl
 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Mushroom Log - December 2017

Laccaria sp.
























I found a few dozen of these shriveled Laccaria mushrooms on a Christmas tree farm.  There are a few species that can be found associated with pines in disturbed habitat. 






















I also found a cool website, laccaria.org all about the genus Laccaria!