December 06, 2009

Tidepooling Pillar Point... At Night!

Caught this tide at Pillar Point. Arrived around 3:30ish to hazy, overcast conditions with moderate surf, fairly turbid waters. Low was a -1.5, scheduled for 6pm, about 1 hr after sunset, so things were still fairly high. Not too much happening in the harbor aside from some buffleheads, loons, and scoters out in the harbor, some willets and a plover along the shore. I did, however, meet up with some birders who had a scope on a Long-tailed Duck! The conversation went something like this:

"What are you guys looking at?"

"Well, we think we're looking at a female Long-tailed Duck"

"A Long-tailed Duck?! No shit!"

"Ah, you're a birder!"

Female Long-tailed Duck it was, in winter plumage. New bird for me, very exciting.

The reef was beautiful, as always, and almost bereft of people, which definitely not always the case. The pool of plenty was still pretty deep when I got out there, so I spent some time examining some higher pools as the sun set, finding a cool Giant Rock-scallop, and a few slugs here and there. When the sun was good and gone, though, things really started picking up. Slugs were everywhere! Abundances were higher than I've ever seen them out there, T. maculata everywhere, with D. montereyensis right behind them in numbers. Numerous clown dorids, and some relative rarities, including Limacia and Dirona picta.

All in all a wonderful evening tidepooling. I need to go out at night more often. Had dinner at Barbara's Fish Trap, which was overpriced and kind of mediocre. Still looking for good food in that area...

Posted on December 06, 2009 10:16 AM by kueda kueda | 18 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Tidepooling SoCal

Ok, not quite tidepooling all of SoCal, but I did tidepool in SoCal. Flew down to LA for a company holiday party, which just happened to include a tidepooling jaunt to Leo Carillo State Park! Leo Carillo doesn't have too much in the way of straight-up pools, but it does have a nice cobble field with many cool things living there. Friends told me to expect sea hares and octopi, and we in fact found both! I was so excited about the sea hares. They were enormous (for sea slugs), and just plane cool. Other things I could recognize were a bunch of Pisaster ocraceus, some moonglow anemones, and striped shore crabs. Among the things I didn't recognize were lots of anemones, big calcareous hunks of colonial worm colonies, and lots of other stuff. Would love to go back.

Posted on December 06, 2009 04:17 AM by kueda kueda | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

East Bay Thanksgiving Fungi, Dryness on the Peninsula

Late post, but I did some fairly fruitful fungal exploring in the East Bay over the Thanksgiving weekend. Deathcaps were blooming everywhere, especially in Anthony Chabot, and I found what I think was my first East Bay Stropharia. I was also trying to pay more attention to the lichens, especially in Huckleberry, where there seems to be a great diversity growing on the oaks and manzanitas along the higher trails. Still at the very beginning of learning anything about lichens though.

Went across the bay to El Corte Madera and Wunderlich on Sunday, figuring if the East Bay was fairly wet, the peninsula should be soaking. So wrong. Both were bone dry, with very little in the way of fungi. El Corte Madera had some beautiful, huge tanoak stands that seemed perfect for a variety of fungi, but it was so dry there wasn't really much in profusion. We did manage to find garlic mushrooms, though, which was a treat. Their smell is so intense! Wunderlich was even sparser, mostly just old deathcaps.

Posted on December 06, 2009 04:10 AM by kueda kueda | 9 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 25, 2009

Salt Point, November 2009

Went up to Salt Point with Arch and Collin last weekend, and camped there for the first time. It kind of takes a long time to get up there, and day trips have always seemed like a bit much. I think camping is definitely the way to go.

I got up there Saturday afternoon, and was immediately greeted by a horde of foragers participating in a SOMA foray. Doh. Luckily they were finishing up, meaning even if I wasn't going to find any edibles, at least I'd have some solitude. Since I knew my friends weren't going to join me until the evening, I decided to do some bushwhacking and investigate some of the areas I usually check later in the season. I eventually found myself in the middle of a seemingly inescapable huckleberry patch, crawling around on my hands and knees hoping to find some kind of clearing. In the process, though, I found one porcini and one Leccinum manzanitae, a new bolete for me! I totally thought it was another porcini that was just kind of "dirty," but in fact the dull red cap and dark ridges on the stem mean Leccinum. Now I know. Also tons and tons of Amanita, Gomphus floccosus, and plenty of things I couldn't recognize.

Camping at Gerstle Cove was quite nice. I'd say the campground was 1/3 full, so no problem with crowding. It was fairly cold, but a warm fire and a decent sleeping bag took care of that. The next day I set off with Arch and Collin up the North Trail, where we had decent success with edibles, despite meeting some tight-lipped Russians with buckets full of mushrooms who told us all the mushrooms were gone and that we shouldn't bother (we met some friendlier Russians later who showed us their baskets). We also found all manner of interesting non-edibles, many that I hadn't seen before!

All in all, it was a beautiful afternoon to spend strolling around the woods. We stopped by the Sizzling Tandoor in Jenner on the way back, because Arch thought the name was hilarious. Their fare's most salient characteristic was its warmth. It also has a spectacular view of the Russian River.

Posted on November 25, 2009 09:40 AM by kueda kueda | 9 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 19, 2009

Carquinez Regional, Fungi in Huckleberry

Went to Carquinez Regional Shoreline for the first time last Saturday with Tony and Angie. Nice little park, some beautiful grassland and healthy-looking oaks. I was armed and ready with my new OakMapper iPhone app, but I didn't find any Sudden Oak Death to report! Oh well.

On Sunday I decided re-investigate the fungal situation in Sibley and Huckleberry. While things seemed pretty dry and empty in the upper piney regions of Sibley, where I've seen boletes, candy caps, and elfin saddle in the past, there was definitely some activity as I got lower and wetter. Lots of amanitas, which made me happy, including plenty of death caps.

Posted on November 19, 2009 08:13 AM by kueda kueda | 4 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 09, 2009

Birding Tubbs Island, San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Tried birding a new spot this morning, hoping for lots of ducks and waders. Definitely a lot of wader, pretty much nil on the ducks. I guess the winter migrants haven't reached that spot just yet, b/c all we saw was one Ruddy, Western and Clark's Grebes, 2 female Canvasbacks, a float of scoters, a float of scaup, and 2 females that were probably Green-winged Teal. That's actually a pretty poor list for the Bay.

Nevertheless, we saw lots of other birds, and took the time to ID some peeps. Feel much better about distinguishing Dunlins for Western and Least Sandpipers now (larger, downcurved bill / black legs / light legs). Also saw a bunch of American Pipits, which was pretty neat, not to mention some very handsome little lycaenids.

Posted on November 09, 2009 08:33 AM by kueda kueda | 40 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Back to Round Valley

Went back to Round Valley on Sat to get some more pics of Kibramoa. Managed to get some shots of a mature male, embolus exposed! Also saw a billion more trapdoors, and a couple Calisogas. A damn find spider day.

Posted on November 09, 2009 08:29 AM by kueda kueda | 4 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 06, 2009

Tidepooling Scott Creek

Hit a decent -1 low at Scott Creek on Wednesday. Clear, warm weather and low to moderate surf made for a very pleasant afternoon. Saw a fairly standard assortment of slugs, with one very notable highlight: my first Aplysiopsis enteromorphae! A friend had told me that they live at Scott Creek, and that I should be looking for a mossy algae by the name of Cladophora. First pool with some decent Cladophora found was full of 'em. And a very shallow, exposed pool it was, too! Not the kind of place I'd ordinarily be looking for slugs. Will have to adjust my search parameters.

Didn't see any of the hydroid Eudendrium, which was one of the more remarkable things at Scott the last time I was there. Maybe it just wasn't low enough. Did see a ton of peanut worms, though! More than I think I've ever seen before.

Finished the evening with a tiny little octopus who pulled some wonderful color changing tricks and then pretended to be a very sly, moving stone. Walked back along the beach under magnificent pre-moon star field.

Posted on November 06, 2009 08:56 AM by kueda kueda | 12 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 03, 2009

Rounding Round Valley

Diablo From Round ValleyDecided to go somewhere new this past Saturday, and ended up at Round Valley Regional Preserve, an EBRPD holding east of Mt. Diablo. Wasn't really sure what to expect other than some nice scenery. Ended up find that in spades, along with all manner of interesting things, foremost among them being a night snake and a bobcat.

As far as I can tell Round Valley is almost all oak savanna, predominated by blue oak, with some valley and interior live oak mixed in with some buckeyes and walnuts. I don't think I saw any completely closed woodland on the loop I did. Plenty of rocks and fallen logs for herps and spiders and the like, so definitely worth revisiting.

The night snake was curled up under one of those logs, looking like it had just molted. Also found a Diabolical Ironclad Beetle nearby, which, I have learned, is not quite the same as the Plicate or Pustulose Ironclad Beetles. Noted.

The bobcat was something of a shock, as I came up behind it without realizing. It didn't notice me for quite some time, and I had almost changed to my telephoto when it did and loped off. I pursued, of course, and manage to get a few decent shots. I had never noticed how black and white the backs of their ears are! Really quite a sight.

Hurrying back in an effort to escape before the gate to the parking lot closed, I nevertheless stopped for a late-season male tarantula, and for some very nice trap doors, which may or may not belong to some cyrtaucheniids. Would love to go back at night, or perhaps after rain to see if I could catch some wandering males.

Posted on November 03, 2009 11:14 AM by kueda kueda | 7 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

October 28, 2009

Poorwill, at Last

Went to Briones on Sunday to test out my new copy of the Sibley Guide to Trees. Was somewhat disappointed in the guide, esp. when compared to Biedelman and Kozloff, but had a grand time of it nonetheless, with some nice scenery and myriopods to pass the time. Oh, and did I mention the Common Poorwill? Saw another, but this time I knew what I was looking at, so I approached with caution and ended up within 6 ft of the thing! Got some find pics out of it too. The other highlight was hearing many Western Screech Owls calling in the woods. ID'd the call with iBird, no less!

Posted on October 28, 2009 06:07 AM by kueda kueda | 4 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment