July 04, 2022

Rugged flash diffuser

Wanting to reduce the harsh shadows caused by the flash, and needing something rugged to withstand dragging against branches in the field or being blown by wind, I found a solution in my pantry. A vinegar bottle flash diffuser. Pics here:
https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1xpBo2ghQvfa34nqvFVnQmRKaWcT_lwXgvAk_BJ85zRE/edit?usp=sharing

The template (printable PDF here) was inspired by a design that someone had made (but I can't remember who or where--perhaps here). I experimented with the size of the diffuser, with the goal of being as compact as possible (for field work) while still reducing harsh shadows. The size is small enough to easily fit into my camera bag (and rugged enough to not be damaged by being stuffed into the camera bag).

It requires a step-up ring on the lens to keep it from falling off. It's held on with an elastic pony tail holder. Also, it can be rotated out of the way when not needed for a particular shot (when the subject is over a foot or two away).

For lens of different diameters, the template would need to be adjusted to fit using trial and error with paper templates. My lens diameter is just under 2 inches. Note also that I'm using the compact flash that came with the camera. If your flash is one of those really tall ones, the diffuser might need to be taller. I hate bulky equipment for field photography--but I'm also annoyed by the slow recharge time--6 seconds in some cases--of my little compact flash). Everything is a tradeoff.

Posted on July 04, 2022 13:12 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 1 comment | Leave a comment

June 26, 2022

September 16-18 bioblitz at Riverby Ranch

A Fall bioblitz is planned for September 16-18 at the Riverby Ranch Mitigation Area (iNat project page), 95 miles NE of DFW. Brandon Hall, on-site restoration ecologist (@bhall002), will be hosting us. Facilities at Riverby Ranch include a restored cowboy bunkhouse sleeping 17, two restrooms with showers, and a kitchen. There's also plenty of room for car or tent camping. Electricity is available for moth lights, but bring battery powered lights also in the event that they may be useful. For comparative purposes, folks can also visit the nearby Bois D'Arc Unit of Caddo Nat'l Grasslands 5 miles to the south of Riverby Ranch (a wooded upland area with a couple of ponds). As we leave Riverby Sunday morning, we can spend some time at the Bois D'Arc Unit.

Bunkhouse reservation list (reply to post or message to be added). Bring your own bedding.

This map shows the Riverby Ranch property boundaries in black with the red pin showing location of the bunkhouse (which will serve as our headquarters; 33.837521, -95.883909). Within the black polygons, orange and green lines are roads. The portion of the Bois D'Arc Unit of Caddo Nat'l Grasslands that some folks may wish to explore is outlined in purple.

Brandon describes the conditions at Riverby Ranch: “Much of the site, particularly forested and grassland restoration areas, are still in early successional stages, but are progressing well. Those areas that were able to remain resilient through past agricultural activities such as the mature forests and wetland areas are nearly fully recovered and are the real backbones of biodiversity on the site. Many of the wetlands have permanent groundwater influence that offer unique (and very muddy) habitats. The site is certainly lush, and both the quantity and quality of wildlife here has surprised everyone – I’ve found a number of what I think are state first or rare plant species, aquatic areas are rife with every swimming and crawling thing you would hope for, and the higher tropic levels are responding better than hoped. There has been an explosion of beaver, otter, bobcats, raptors, snakes, and even a black bear siting. Over the past few years we’ve encountered a number of species of note including a western burrowing owl, LeConte’s sparrow, grasshopper sparrow, quail, upland sandpipers, and large numbers of breeding ducks, shore birds, and innumerable dickcissel.”

More information about the Riverby Ranch Mitigation Area:
https://res.us/projects/bois-darc-lake-prm/
https://res.us/home/restoring-at-scale/restoring-at-scale-docuseries/

Tag others that you'd like to invite:
@alisonnorthup, @amzapp, @annikaml, @aprilsee, @bacchusrock, @baxter-slye, @benjamindurrington, @birdsandbugs27, @bosqueaaron, @brentano, @butterflies4fun, @catenatus, @centratex, @charley, @clairesorenson, @cmeckerman, @connlindajo, @cosmiccat, @currenfrasch, @elytrid, @gcwarbler, @gwaithir, @henrya, @inhat83, @jcochran706, @jwn, @k_mccormack, @k8thegr8, @kimberlietx, @knightericm, @lorimalloy, @lovebirder, @megachile, @melissa_duron, @mikef451, @nanofishology, @pynklynx, @rlhardin, @rymcdaniel, @sambiology, @squaylei2000 , @tadamcochran, @williampaulwhite17

Posted on June 26, 2022 02:17 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 25 comments | Leave a comment

May 28, 2022

View specific life stages of a taxon

I added this to the list of iNat tips & tricks on my profile page.

Larvae: Go to the observations of the species of interest and paste this code at the end of the URL: &term_id=1&term_value_id=6.

Monarch larvae for example: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?verifiable=true&taxon_id=48662&term_id=1&term_value_id=6

Pupae: &term_id=1&term_value_id=4

Eggs: &term_id=1&term_value_id=7

You can get these sorts of URL add-ons by going to the Identify modal first and filtering for the parameters of interest.

Posted on May 28, 2022 15:01 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 2 comments | Leave a comment

May 09, 2022

June 4-5: Paluxy River, Stephenville, Erath County mini-bioblitz

Saturday/Sunday

***CANCELED---DUE TO LACK OF LIVING ORGANISMS***

Lance, Prairie Oaks Master Naturalist, will host a 2nd event at his homesite property just north of Stephenville on the North Paluxy River (overnight tent or car camping).

Here's the post for the 1st event held at his place last July (with links to the 433 species that 5 people documented in one afternoon/evening).

Lance's property is about 30 acres on the headwaters of the South Paluxy River and includes both limestone upland and heavily wooded bottomland areas along the river (which, at this location, is a small, but deep, channel). Lance has been allowing the land to restore itself from it's former state for the past 20 years, and it's looking pretty spectacular.

The turnoff onto the gravel road from the highway isn't well marked and is easy to drive past (best to let your GPS map assistant tell you when to turn). Down the gravel road a bit, the gate to the property is recognizable by being constructed of black pipe--first gate on the right just after making a hard (right-angle) left turn. The narrow driveway winds downhill through the property to the rock house. Find a place to park in the mowed grass near the house or barn (Google map pinpointing house).

Here are photographs, one looking down on the house from the log cabin (taken in 2021) and others taken end of May this year.

There will be electricity for lights, but you should bring extension cords if you have your own light setup.

Folks can start arriving anytime around noon-ish Saturday and stay until around noon-ish Sunday.



Just tagging some usual suspects--focusing on folks in the general area (but not intentionally omitting anyone!)
@amzapp, @annikaml, @aprilsee, @baxter-slye, @bosqueaaron, @brentano, @butterflies4fun, @connlindajo, @cosmiccat, @currenfrasch, @elytrid, @gcwarbler, @gwaithir, @k8thegr8, @kimberlietx, @knightericm, @lovebirder, @mikef451, @oddfitz, @pynklynx, @sambiology, @wildcarrot
Posted on May 09, 2022 23:29 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 19 comments | Leave a comment

February 12, 2022

April @ Timberlake

Update
Here are observations from this weekend:
--observation mode:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2022-4-8&d2=2022-4-10&place_id=118103

--identify mode:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/identify?quality_grade=needs_id%2Cresearch&place_id=118103&d1=2022-04-08&d2=2022-04-10


The main Texas iNaturalist gathering for spring 2022 will be at Indian Creek Ranch in Edwards Co. So those with limited ability to travel should make that a priority.

But for those who can't be there on that date or have the ability to travel more frequently, I'm planning to be at Timberlake Field Station in early April to document the early spring diversity. This is not an "invitation only" event, so if you're reading this and wish to participate, you are welcome to join us.

I'm keeping track of some 2022 events here in my planning post.

*** April @ Timberlake will be April 8th (1 pm Friday) - 10th (2 pm Sunday) ***

The bunkhouse (with electricity and restrooms) is available and has 6 twin beds (respond to reserve a bed--first come first served). There's lots of room to pitch a tent, or car camp, near the restroom and shower facility. NOTE: the bunkhouse is currently full.

Tarleton State University’s Timberlake Field Station is an educational and research facility located on the Colorado River in the heart of Texas--midway between Austin and Abilene. The 790 acre property has over 2 miles of Colorado river frontage and includes bottomland and upland habitats.

Here's the link to detailed info about Timberlake and the bioblitz (including directions): https://docs.google.com/document/d/19D_D0b94QvtB72GR8e5cSH8XHXFSe9DS69zffjRrbtw/edit?usp=sharing

And here's the link to the Timberlake iNaturalist Project:
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/timberlake-biological-field-station

Notes to self:
Working list of flowers expected to be in bloom early April (assuming that it rains!) include:

  • Opuntia? Maybe some early bloomers (April-June)
  • Horse crippler cactus? Yes (April)
  • Miniature barrel cactus? No (May-Sept)
  • Lace hedgehog cactus? Maybe (mid April-early May)
  • Little nipple cactus? Yes (March-April)
  • Grooved nipple cactus? Probably not (mid April-July) - not yet documented at Timberlake
  • Christmas cholla? No (late May-July)
  • Missouri foxtail cactus? Yes (April-May) - not yet documented at Timberlake
  • Gaillardia
  • Straggler daisy
  • Texas thistle
  • Blackfoot daisy
  • Engleman daisy (not yet documented at Timberlake)
  • Stiff Greenthread
  • Texas yellowstar
  • False dandelion
  • Four-nerved daisy
  • Common yarrow
  • Carolina woollywhite
  • Camphorweed
  • Barbara's-buttons (not yet documented at Timberlake)
  • Prairie fleabane (not yet documented at Timberlake)
  • Texas ragwort (not yet documented at Timberlake)
  • Tickseed
  • Huisache daisy
  • Lazy daisy
  • Arkansas leastdaisy
  • ...

@alflinn329, @amzapp, @annikaml, @aprilsee, @austinrkelly, @bacchusrock, @baxter-slye, @benjamindurrington, @beschwar, @birdsandbugs27, @bosqueaaron, @brentano, @briangooding, @butterflies4fun, @catenatus, @centratex, @clairesorenson, @cmeckerman, @connlindajo, @donovanmoxley, @dylapodiformes, @elytrid, @gcwarbler, @gpstewart, @gwaithir, @jcochran706, @jgw_atx, @k_mccormack, @k8thegr8, @kayakqueen, @kimberlietx, @knightericm, @lorimalloy, @lovebirder, @lulubelle, @melissa_duron, @mchlfx, @mikef451, @molly_burke, @nanofishology, @oddfitz, @pynklynx, @rkostecke, @rymcdaniel, @sambiology, @tadamcochran, @sawwhet, @tweedledee, @wildcarrot, @williampaulwhite17

Posted on February 12, 2022 15:52 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 41 comments | Leave a comment

January 04, 2022

Notes on identifying white rain lilies in Texas

I've been wanting to learn how to identify the white rain lilies, so I sat down and pulled together the identifying characteristics. I'm no expert, so offer corrections if anything is incorrect.



Visual guide:
https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1CUOqy8kDbBZs3vC_2yty-4gJBuWNu9kY6DEYScASus4/edit?usp=sharing

Posted on January 04, 2022 17:32 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 16 comments | Leave a comment

December 27, 2021

Notes on identification of the cactus bugs, Chelinidea, in the U. S.

Unfortunately, most photos aren't clear enough to show identifying characters in adults. The most important thing to see clearly is the head and "neck" region.

For nymphs, we're missing information about the two less commonly encountered species (C. canyona and C. hunteri).

Chelinidea canyona

  • jugae bluntly pointed and near the length of the tylus (holotype)
  • head with dark stripes adjacent to pale midline stripe
  • under surface of front femora bearing distally two or three small teeth
  • otherwise, resembles C. tabulata
  • Nymphs with greenish body, reddish-brown head, pale yellowish legs
  • holotype
  • TX, AR

Chelinidea tabulata

  • jugae acutely pointed and extending well beyond the tylus (BG image)
  • femurs with anterior longitudinal ridge
  • anterior pronotum with a distinct tubercle on each side of head, lacking a notch at base
  • under surface of front femora bearing distally a double row of teeth, decreasing in prominence proximally, and totaling from five to nine, teeth
  • head lacks dark stripes adjacent to pale midline stripe
  • nymphs green with light tan legs and antennae
  • TX, AZ, CO, CA, UT

Chelinidea vittiger

  • femurs rounded, lacking ridge
  • anterior pronotum with a very short tubercle on each side of head with distinct notch at base or almost absent altogether
  • nymphs green or brownish red with black heads, legs, and antennae
  • Widespread; wherever prickly pear occurs


1924 paper describing each species:
Hamlin, J. C. (1924). A review of the genus Chelinidea (Hemiptera-Heteroptera) with biological data. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 17(2), 193-208.

Chelinidea hunteri

  • anterior pronotum lacking tubercles, but with a cylindrical collar set off from the rest of the pronotum by a deep incision
  • AZ, TX

Posted on December 27, 2021 15:45 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 3 comments | Leave a comment

October 06, 2021

2022 Bioblitz planning



If anyone would like to propose future Texas area bioblitz locations for 2022, feel free to comment here or private message. Proposed locations must have overnight facilities (with restrooms) onsite or nearby. Most state parks might not be ideal because they're extremely crowded on weekends and require reservations months in advance for camping.


Also, I think it might be a good idea to avoid areas of moderate to severe drought when possible.


This Google map documents location of past, planned, and potential bioblitz gatherings:


Scheduled 2022 events:

Potential 2023 event locations:

  • I'd like to do something along the coast and am looking into locations that have overnight facilities on-site or nearby--not easy to find. Camp Mauritz might be available ($4 per person which includes restrooms, showers, and pavilion). This seems like the best "headquarters" for a gathering along the central coast (none of the WMAs allow camping). But need to identify places to access for coastal observations--perhaps Powderhorn WMA)
  • Lake Proctor, Copperas Creek Park (Erath Co.)--Here, the onsite park ranger is interested in hosting us at a group pavilion for an overnight stay.
  • June 4-5: Lance's place (Erath Co.)--Lance, the owner of this private property, will host folks for an overnight stay (tent or car camping).

Posted on October 06, 2021 03:30 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 67 comments | Leave a comment

September 21, 2021

Timberlake Bioblitz weekend of October 16th (Saturday - Sunday)

Update
Here are observations from this weekend:
--observation mode:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2021-10-16&d2=2021-10-17&place_id=118103

--identify mode: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/identify?quality_grade=needs_id%2Cresearch&place_id=118103&d1=2021-10-16&d2=2021-10-17


If you're reading this, join us for a fall bioblitz at the Timberlake Field Station near Goldthwaite, TX!

[Update: Arrive after 11 am Saturday and stay till after lunch Sunday.]

It's been pretty dry out there this summer, so don't expect a lush flora!

The bunkhouse (with electricity and restrooms) is available and has 6 twin beds (respond to reserve a bed--first come first served). I think it would be wisest to have only folks that are vaccinated in the bunkhouse. There's lots of room to pitch a tent near the restroom and shower facility.

Tarleton State University’s Timberlake Field Station is an educational and research facility located on the Colorado River in the heart of Texas--midway between Austin and Abilene. The 790 acre property has over 2 miles of Colorado river frontage and includes bottomland and upland habitats.

Here's the link to detailed info about Timberlake and the bioblitz (including directions): https://docs.google.com/document/d/19D_D0b94QvtB72GR8e5cSH8XHXFSe9DS69zffjRrbtw/edit?usp=sharing

@alflinn329, @amzapp, @annikaml, @aprilsee, @austinrkelly, @bacchusrock, @baxter-slye, @benjamindurrington, @beschwar, @birdsandbugs27, @bosqueaaron, @brentano, @briangooding, @butterflies4fun, @catenatus, @centratex, @clairesorenson, @cmeckerman, @connlindajo, @dcarrie, @donovanmoxley, @elytrid, @gcwarbler, @gpstewart, @gwaithir, @jcochran706, @jgw_atx, @k_mccormack, @k8thegr8, @kayakqueen, @kimberlietx, @knightericm, @lorimalloy, @lovebirder, @lulubelle, @melissa_duron, @mchlfx, @mikef451, @molly_burke, @nanofishology, @pynklynx, @rkostecke, @rymcdaniel, @sambiology, @tadamcochran, @tweedledee, @wildcarrot, @williampaulwhite17

Posted on September 21, 2021 01:05 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 39 comments | Leave a comment

July 03, 2021

Weekday Moth Week event! Stephenville, TX

[UPDATE: links to observations made Wednesday]

Here's the bounding box for Lance's place to view observations: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2021-07-21&d2=2021-07-22&nelat=32.31862448135538&nelng=-98.16126481360601&place_id=any&swlat=32.308650439472004&swlng=-98.17169324225591

And here's the link for the identification modal (the filter is set to show research grade also): https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/identify?quality_grade=needs_id%2Cresearch&nelat=32.31862448135538&nelng=-98.16126481360601&subview=map&swlat=32.308650439472004&swlng=-98.17169324225591&d1=2021-07-21&d2=2021-07-22


We're hosting a weekday mini-bioblitz during Moth Week, Wednesday, July 21st. The location is a gem of a place on the headwaters of the South Paluxy River north of Stephenville. Lance's property is about 30 acres and includes some limestone upland area and some really nice heavily wooded bottomland along the river (which, at this location, is a very small, but deep channel, stream).

The hillsides are clothed in native grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, juniper, and oak. The river (more like a babbling brook) is flowing and full of water beetles and other aquatic life. Lance, the landowner, has been allowing the land to restore itself from it's former state for the past 20 years and it's looking pretty spectacular.

Here's the location:
https://www.google.com/maps/@32.3130113,-98.1684813,728m/data=!3m1!1e3

The gate to the property is recognizable by being constructed of black pipe. The narrow driveway winds downhill through the property to the rock house. Find a place to park in the mowed grass near the house (Google map pinpointing house).

Here's a photo looking down on the house from the log cabin.

There will be electricity for lights, but you should bring extension cords if you have your own light setup.

Folks can start arriving anytime after 1 pm--feel free to explore the property before the mothing event that evening. The amount of life and diversity on this place is pretty amazing.

Posted on July 03, 2021 16:51 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 25 comments | Leave a comment