Archivos de diario de marzo 2024

02 de marzo de 2024

Annemarie added as Admin!

We're happy to welcome @annemarie, Program Coordinator for Travis Audubon Society, as a new Admin for the Blair Woods Project. Watch for announcements from Annemarie for future activities and opportunities at Blair Woods.

Publicado el marzo 2, 2024 05:18 TARDE por gcwarbler gcwarbler | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

11 de marzo de 2024

You Can [Almost] Never Go Home

I just completed a very interesting run to the West Coast. The nominal purposes of the brief (two-week) road trip were (a) to attend a 50th college class reunion at U.C. Irvine, (b) visit SoCal family, and (c) enjoy the early Spring bloom in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. I don't get back to Southern California very frequently--twice in the past two years is exceptional. But every time I do, it brings back floods of memories of my childhood upbringing and all the events that occurred in the first 25 or so years of my life.

Relevant to iNaturalist, I got to visit such boyhood haunts in Orange County as Upper Newport Bay (now a Regional Park and Ecological Preserve), Doheny Beach State Park (where I learned to surf), and Crystal Cove State Park (which was once part of the locked-away Irvine Ranch).

At Upper Newport Bay, I had a nice encounter with a pair of the endangered California Gnatcatchers very near the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center. Ironically, I got a Lifer bird species not far away along the hike-and-bike trail--a Swinhoe's White-Eye--although I didn't get a picture of the species. This is apparently a fairly recent colonizer in Orange County; it wasn't on anyone's radar when I published the first compilation of Orange County Birds nearly 50 years ago. Along that hike-and-bike trail, I also documented Coast Cholla on the very bluff where I had once slid downhill as a teenager, impaling my flimsy tennis shoe into a patch of the same cactus. At Doheny Beach, only slightly distracted by a handful of surfers on some nice late winter swells, I came across a large Wavy Turban at the high tide line, one of my all-time favorite seashells. On a backcountry hike in the San Joaquin Hills of Crystal Cove State Park, the abundance of Black Mustard, Poison Hemlock, and Malta Star-thistle along the trail's edge offered a stark reminder that no corner of SoCal remains unscathed by the long-term influences of human activity.

A Prickly Goal

On many such road trips, I'll pick a group of organisms (usually some woody plant genus or family) on which to focus as a target set of species. This allows me to narrow my study preparation and yet in doing so, I can "vacuum up" all the other biotic diversity I encounter in my focal searches. On the recent trip to SoCal, almost by accident I began to realize the high diversity of cholla cacti (genus Cylindropuntia) that I was encountering. I did my best to try to sort them out--only partially successfully--and in the end documented at least eight species in the genus across southern Calfornia and Arizona. (This doesn't include our familiar Christmas Cactus and Tree Cactus which I recall passing by during my first day-and-a-half on the road in West Texas, but didn't bother to document.) For the record, this set included the following species...and I still can't claim to be able to separate all them with any confidence:

Buckhorn Cholla (Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa)
Teddybear Cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii)
Mason Valley Cholla (Cylindropuntia fosbergii)
Chain-fruit Cholla (Cylindropuntia fulgida)
Gander's Cholla (Cylindropuntia ganderi)
Coast Cholla (Cylindropuntia prolifera)
Branched Pencil Cholla (Cylindropuntia ramosissima)
Thurber's Cholla (Cylindropuntia thurberi)

Don't quiz me on all of these. Remarkably, this swath of the southwestern U.S. through which I traveled is home to as many as 25 species of cholla plus some hybrids. A prickly identification challenge, indeed!

For the record, here's a link to the full array of my observations on the two-week sojourn to SoCal and back.

Publicado el marzo 11, 2024 02:35 MAÑANA por gcwarbler gcwarbler | 13 observaciones | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario