Wrentits are common but secretive chaparral-loving birds. While they often hide deep in the brush, their raspy calls and "dropping ping-pong ball" like song are often heard. They are the only New World representatives of the family Sylviidae.
Bewick's Wrens are one of the most common birds in California's coastal scrub and chaparral. This individual was seen carrying a fecal sac from the brush meaning its nest was nearby.
This is one of the coastal "brown-capped" coastal bushtits, Psaltriparus m. minimus. (family Aegithalidae) Several birds were working their way through a grove of Coast Live Oaks.
Western Snowy Plovers (Charadrius n. nivosus) are small, federally threatened shorebirds that breed on open sandy beaches and lakeshores. We are fortunate enough in Monterey County to have a small year-round population that nest on our beaches and coastal dunes. Unfortunately, these small birds are susceptible to predation, disturbance, and nest destruction as their eggs are nearly invisible against the sand.
Two males were displaying to between 12 and 15 apparently disinterested females.
This patch was in a highly disturbed strip of land between a school and fields of row crops.
Around a half dozen individuals growing in a wood chip covered and shrub planted garden. Several individuals were excavated for identification. Identification of these mushrooms was based on their overall appearance, their rusty-orange spores, non-viscid caps and stems,and adnexed gills.
One of many very similar Agaricus, this individual was identified by its broad, persistent veil, slightly fibrous cap, and the yellow staining that appeared when the cap was rubbed and when the base of the stalk was cut.
It was found in a suburban yard near downtown Salinas.
Unlike many thistles which are introduced and invasive, Cobweb Thistle is a native species with numerous subspecies endemic to California.
California Sagebrush is one of the most common plants in the coastal sage scrub habitat along with Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) and Coyote Brush (Baccharis pilularis).
The Elegant Clarkia (family Onagraceae) is one of the last of the "spring" wildflowers. A small patch were found on the Fort Ord National Monument along a shaded NW facing slope.
A rare and endangered manzanita endemic to the Monterey Bay area and San Francisco Peninsula.
Both male and female Fiery Skippers were seen feeding on garden flowers.
California Oak Moths (family Notodontidae) can be extremely common on the central California coast, occasionally emerging by the tens of millions where their caterpillars defoliate (but don't kill) large numbers of Coast Live Oaks (Quercus agrifolia). This appears to be another boom year for these moths with some oaks surrounded by huge fluttering swarms.
A female wolf spider, Pardosa tuoba (Lycosidae). Identification was made by collecting several specimens (M&F) and both keying them out and comparing them directly to specimens at the California Academy of Sciences.
Red flowering tree near Amtrak station in Salinas, CA. Group of Amish traveling in train wondered what it is.
This adult female was found on my front porch. It was collected and its identity confirmed through an examination of its epyginum. To my knowledge it represented the first record of this introduced European species to central California.
While hiking at Fort Ord National Monument (Coast Oak woodlands and chaparral) I saw at least half a dozen Sinuous Bee Flies (Family Bombyliidae) that appeared to be acting territorially along the sandy trails.
The species was identified by the "blob-like" dark marking near the apex of the wing.
Pelegrina aeneola is one of the most common jumping spiders in California. This adult female was found on some shrubbery in my backyard. I collected it as a voucher and confirmed its identity by looking at its fine details under a microscope.