August 25, 2021

Urban Great Horned Owls

Lately I have been finding a lot of feathers belonging to Great Horned Owls. A few have been right in our neighborhood. We have heard good ol' Bubo virginianus from our back windows, but there is suitable habitat in that direction. The feathers I am finding have been in very seemingly inhospitable places.

Posted on August 25, 2021 04:49 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 22, 2021

Birding and Baseball

I really love birding while at baseball games. It is like a Big Sit with entertainment. I've attended more games at the Oakland Coliseum than any other venue, and it has a few good features - a wide-open sky, a large adjacent parking lot, and a moat around that lot. So water birds - like herons and egrets - can occur, as well as birds of prey and plenty of gulls.
Today's game in Oakland was poor in number of species, but it generated a new bird to my Coliseum list - a Belted Kingfisher! It makes some sense that it would be there, because of the moat, but not to fly over the stadium silently while a game was in progress. Peggy spotted it first, and through some miracle I got a poor-but-still-identifiable picture.

Posted on August 22, 2021 04:40 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 1 observation | 3 comments | Leave a comment

August 20, 2021

Cute Insects

Insects don't get much respect for their beauty, with the exception of butterflies. But they really have their cute side. Today on a neighborhood walk, I found an Outer Bark Louse with cute big eyes, and then, best of all, a sleeping beetle inside of a rose petal.

Posted on August 20, 2021 02:15 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 19, 2021

San Bruno Mountain: Old Ranch Road Trail

Today I did some coverage along the Old Ranch Road trail, from its start to the spot about 3/4 of a mile where it officially leaves the park. At one point I went into a small copse of conifers, and evidently this move of mine set some California Quail into semi-alarm mode. I could hear their little bubbling noises, and when I emerged, I saw them ahead of me on the road, a group of four. Very well-marked. This is a species that reveals itself in quiet moments.

Also I recall that @metsa had mentioned that Hereodermia leucomelos, Elegant Fringe Lichen, was more common on San Bruno Mountain than in other places. Just that hint, and my senses were more alert. I was very happy to find one today!

Posted on August 19, 2021 05:41 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 18, 2021

The Naïvete of Youth

On another neighborhood walk, I heard a rather frantic jumble of Anna's Hummingbird scolds. I gave a little "pish," and up hopped a very pale young Calypte anna. It perched on an open branch, and eyed me suspiciously from a few different angles. I think younger animals are learning their environment, seemingly with wide-eyed curiosity. Or perhaps I anthropomorphically project

Posted on August 18, 2021 04:45 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 16, 2021

Animals and Society in My Neighborhood

A nice neighborhood walk at mid-day brought me to a house where I could hear people talking in a small family group. It made me reflect on COVID times, and their unfortunate ongoing continuity, disrupting these sorts of little family gatherings.

And then...a Bewick's Wren chimed in. It was a magical counterpoint to witness - and record.

Posted on August 16, 2021 01:28 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 15, 2021

Exercise, Attention and Serendipity

Today, after yesterday's iNat immersion, I had other work to get to, and then I delayed exercise-walking to watch the end pf Tyler Gilbert's no-hitter for Arizona against San Diego. By the time I left the house for my neighborhood walk it was 7:45 pm, and most birds had gone to roost.

To meet my exercise goal, I did not want to stop too much, but to meet my iNat minimum of one entry/day, I had to stop somewhere - and soon, as it was getting dark. On Bucknell Drive, I spotted a cultivated neighborhood tree with Gold Dust Lichen (Chrysothrix candelaris) on the trunk. I got set to take the picture, when a fly came in.

I have a category of observations that I have playfully named "Random Diptera" sightings. Most of these are a few common Calyptera species that land in my way. But I've learned some things by concentrating on flies - patience, slow movement, and trying for multiple angles to get the shape of the body. This fly, though, defeated me. It would stand perfectly still, but I was literally having a difficult time telling the head from the tail. The posture and behavior were odd. The fly itself was about 60% the size of a Lucilla species. iNat has tentatively identified it as in the genus of Woodpecker Flies (Medetera).

It was only the combination of disciplines - Exercise, my eBird and iNat streaks, my ongoing attention to flies, and the serendipity of stopping when and where I did - that made this possible. Before I practiced such things, how much escaped my attention, both actually and metaphorically?

Posted on August 15, 2021 04:52 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Pedro Point Headlands for my iNativersary

Yesterday I went on my iNativersary walk with nine friends, to celebrate the ninth year of iNatting for me. My iNativersary personal practice is to go somewhere local that I've never visited before, or never iNat-ted before, and do a mini-blitz with my friends.

We had a lovely day along the trail system, where the fog belt has contributed to some plants blooming later than in the rest of the county, like Ceanothus. There was an abundance of Red Beard Lichen (Usnea rubiconda) and many Monterey Pines scattered around the coastal terrace prairie. The two trails we took - the South Ridge Trail and the Arroyo Trail - form a natural loop. The South Ridge Trail is largely elevated and open, with some steep climbs but remarkable views. The Arroyo Trail is at a lower elevation, with more plant variety.

While birds were not omnipresent, due largely to the season, we had an unusually high number of found feathers. Many of them - at widely separated locations - were of Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus). It makes me want to come back and listen/look for them at some twilight hour, especially in late winter/early spring. Many members of my group were also convinced that this could be a bonanza for fungi and slime molds come winter.

Many thanks to my amazing iNat community on this walk: @dpom , @elkman22 , @virusmanbob , @sea-kangaroo @cmaci , @christinnew , @tui , @merav and John E.

Posted on August 15, 2021 04:41 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 5 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 30, 2020

iNaturalist Personal Statistics

During these COVIDian times, lots of imagined projects are being completed. One I had imagined, largely to clean up old entries from my first few years on iNaturalist, was to go through my entire history on iNat in chronological order. I have now completed this project. A few observations before the hard core statistics.

First, other people have been busy during COVID-time too! The degree to which my 'easier' observations (birds, mammals with photos, common odes, lizards, etc.) have been taken to Research Grade is positively fantastic - well above 95%.

Second, I can really tell those moments when I developed interests in particular taxanomic groups. It was like seeing a new color added to stitch work.

OK, so here are the statistics that I tracked:

"Categorical Big Days" (at least 60% of the Thirteen Categories)

Days with Eight Categories - 67
Days with Nine Categories - 49 (116 cumulative)
Days with Ten Categories - 15 (131 cumulative)
Days with Eleven Categories - 9 (140 cumulative)
Days with Twelve Categories - 3 (143 cumulative)
Days with Thirteen Categories - The Holy Grail still shines - ZERO!

Days with over 100 observations
100-109 - 25 Total 25 Cumulative
110-119 - 23 Total 48 Cumulative
120-129 - 13 Total 61 Cumulative
130-139 - 11 Total 72 Cumulative
140-149 - 9 Total 81 Cumulative
150-159 - 4 Total 85 Cumulative
160-169 - 5 Total 90 Cumulative
170-179 - 1 Total 91 Cumulative
180-189 - 1 Total 92 Cumulative
190-199 - 1 Total 93 Cumulative
200-209 - 0 Total 93 Cumulative
210-219 - 2 Total 95 Cumulative
220++ - GOALS FOR THE FUTURE!

Posted on September 30, 2020 14:22 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 8 comments | Leave a comment

April 06, 2020

ON ZOOM! Come learn about the California Center for Natural History! This Thursday, April 9

Dear Naturalist Community -

While we are observing social distancing and shelter-in-place orders, that doesn’t mean we can’t be a community still! The Board of Sequoia Audubon Society has decided to experiment with an online meeting this month, at our usual time of the second Thursday night of the month. We will start ‘gathering’ online at 6:30, with the regular announcements to begin at 7:00 pm.

This is an exciting innovation, and so it is appropriate that our guest speaker is Damon Tighe, one of the founders and core members of the California Center for Natural History, a collective of naturalists in the Bay Area who organize events to create communities of culturally and experientially diverse naturalists in our area. Check out their work here: https://calnature.org/ .

Here’s how to JOIN US ON THURSDAY FOR THE ONLINE GATHERING!
Topic: Sequoia Audubon Society Monthly Meeting
Time: Apr 9, 2020 6:30 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/280977420?pwd=T25tVkhUWTFEY2JYa3liTVFvb1JjQT09

Meeting ID: 280 977 420
Password: 038338

One tap mobile
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Dial by your location
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Find global number: https://zoom.us/u/abG05s5zrc

This information is also available on the Sequoia Audubon website - http://www.sequoia-audubon.org/meetings.html

It is advised to download the Zoom app prior to the meeting. Signing in early (at 6:30) will enable us to trouble-shoot technical difficulties with you. Not as much fun as our usual snacks, but we are all living and learning as we go along!

LOOKING FORWARD TO OUR TIME TOGETHER! Please spread the news widely - we are not limited in seating as we are in a physical meeting!

Posted on April 06, 2020 18:04 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 1 comment | Leave a comment