Spring at Moore Creek Preserve

I joined a Santa Cruz Bird Club field trip to Moore Creek Preserve yesterday. Although it was a birding trip, spring wildflowers, native grasses, insects and a coyote commanded a fair amount of our attention. It was nice to see so much purple needle grass there. I guess I had only hiked here in the dry season when all the grasses are brown. I had noticed a bit of Nassella pulchra along the side of the trail on previous visits, but in spring the purple seed heads and awns make swathes of this grass stand out. There is also native California oat grass and meadow barley here. There were other interesting grasses, rushes, and sedge here as well, so it would me a good place to return to with a grass book and a hand lens. I had neither, but fortunately Steve Gerow, the field trip leader, is as knowledgeable about plants as he is about birds.

Cicadas made their presence known with their clicking calls. I just read that Platypedia, the genus of cicadas I encounter locally, makes its noise by rattling its wings together. Other cicadas produce a very different sound with special abdominal organs called tymbals. Cicadas in the genus Platypedia lack tymbals,

Grasshopper Sparrows were singing their strange insect-like song, especially from the shrubs along the edge of the ravines. They have another song Steve Gerow described as tinkling. Savannah Sparrows, Western Bluebirds, Kestrels, Red-tailed Hawks, and Western Meadowlarks were among the other birds we saw in the grassland.

A pair of Common Ravens flew back and forth along the ravine each carrying a large russet colored mass of something. They kept this up for some time. I will have to see if I can find any description of this kind of behavior. I am curious to learn if this is typical of Raven courtship.

Posted by barbarab barbarab, April 16, 2011 20:46

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Blue Dock Beetle (Gastrophysa cyanea)

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Description

These are in the family Chrysomelidae.

Photos / Sounds

What

Leaf Beetles (Family Chrysomelidae)

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Description

I'm pretty sure these are eggs of a Green Dock Beetle, Gastroidea cyanea.

Photos / Sounds

What

Leaf Beetles (Family Chrysomelidae)

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Description

I found these beetle larvae on Rumex leaves. I saw adult Green Dock Beetles and eggs today in the same area, so I am guessing these are Green Dock Beetle larvae, Gastroidea cyanea. If not it likely some other Chrysomelidae larvae.

Photos / Sounds

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Description

This one had a dark green metallic sheen.

Convinced it is a Heterosilpha, but can't distinguish whether it is H. ramosa or H. aenescens with just this photo as a record.

Photos / Sounds

What

Click Beetles (Family Elateridae)

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Description

There were many of these beetles on stalks of grass at Moore Creek Preserve today.

Photos / Sounds

What

Umber Skipper (Lon melane)

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Photos / Sounds

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Description

Alas, my photos are so bad I don't expect anyone will be able to ID this beetle found in a California Poppy. I've read that prior to the introduction of honey bees, Eschscholzia were predominantly pollinated by beetles. This pollen covered insect looked like he was ready to do just that.

Photos / Sounds

What

Wing-tapping Cicadas (Genus Platypedia)

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Description

As I walked through Moore Creek Preserve today I wondered if there might have been two species of cicadas present. I heard two distinct calls.

Photos / Sounds

What

Barleys (Genus Hordeum)

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Description

I can report that here are at least three species of Hordeums growing in Moore Creek Preserve thanks to Steve Gerow's assistance. Two are introduced species, and one a native. They are, from top to bottom: H. murinum, H. marinum and Hordeum brachyantherum.

Photos / Sounds

What

Meadow Barley (Hordeum brachyantherum)

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Photos / Sounds

What

Purple Needlegrass (Nassella pulchra)

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Description

It was good to see a fair amount of this grass in Moore Creek Preserve. Looking at patches of it from a distance, the purple really stood out from the surrounding green.

Photos / Sounds

What

Salt Barley (Hordeum marinum)

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Description

Smaller than the similar Farmer's Barley, Hordeum murinum. In my older books Mediterranean Barley, H. marinum seems to have been H. hystrix.

Photos / Sounds

What

California Brome (Bromus carinatus)

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Photos / Sounds

What

Rushes (Family Juncaceae)

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Description

I'm not sure what species this one is.

Tags

Photos / Sounds

What

California Oat Grass (Danthonia californica)

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Photos / Sounds

What

Dwarf Orthocarpus (Triphysaria pusilla)

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Description

Growing in footpath. Formerly called Orthocarpus pusillus.

Photos / Sounds

What

Common Cat's-Ear (Hypochaeris radicata)

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Photos / Sounds

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum)

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Photos / Sounds

What

Willow Dock (Rumex salicifolius)

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Tags

Photos / Sounds

What

True Spittlebugs (Family Aphrophoridae)

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Photos / Sounds

What

Lesser Hop Trefoil (Trifolium dubium)

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Photos / Sounds

What

California Goldfields (Lasthenia californica)

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Photos / Sounds

What

Dwarf Brodiaea (Brodiaea terrestris)

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

Description

This flower looks just like one of those in the clusters I'm familiar with in Brodiaeas. I have never seen a single blossom like this so close to the ground.

Tags

Photos / Sounds

What

Redmaids (Calandrinia menziesii)

Observer

barbarab

Date

April 15, 2011

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