05 de mayo de 2014

Treasure Hunt

I went out in the very broad fire trail areas of Claremont Canyon/Panoramic Highway. I was able to find many of the referenced species in previous years pretty quickly, and this late in the semester it was cool how many things I could pick out!

I will say that the coolest thing on this bio hunt was finally tagging a snake! My boyfriend and I were hurriedly looking up what kind it could be before deciding how close to get for a photo... we determined "hopefully a garter snake" and I decided to be the one to get the photo since I have better health insurance. I hope I get some IDs on it, but it was pretty hard to take a good photo of it before it hurried into its snake house.

Publicado el 05 de mayo de 2014 a las 07:52 PM por bburs bburs | 7 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

31 de marzo de 2014

Spring species hunt

I went with purpose to see the Giant Sequoias in Sequoia National Park on my drive down to San Diego this week (very out of the way...) but I had read about and wanted to see them for a long time. iNat helped to elaborate on that curiosity. I was able to really see the confined forest area that they grow which is, more specifically, an area comprising only 144 km. I looked at the previous observations of these trees before going and there were not very many, maybe 8. But I would say that's because they've been there for so long they don't need to establish their existence via the internet, everyone knows these beautiful trees.
I'm well familiar with coast redwoods and love them very much, but had never seen a Giant Sequoia. Just before you enter the forest reserve you see the first one and IT. IS. JUST. HUGE. and so out of place amongst it's other tree friends. I'm really glad my boyfriend was driving and had seen them before, otherwise I may have crashed in awe.
The second beast was right at the park entrance where you pay a day fee, and for all I know the guy could have charged me the $20 sixty times I was so distracted by this dang tree. It's something that cannot be conveyed by a photo, they're just too huge. But I tried, and now my observation sits amongst the other attempts.

These trees are amazing and I'm so glad we went the 5 hours out of our way to southern CA in order to see them. General Sherman, the LARGEST TREE ON EARTH, was standing tall and proud. I also learned of their near complete fire resistance, which is why they are able to prosper for so long. I walked around on a couple different trails and saw quite a few of these trees, but unfortunately not much else in terms of critters as it was very dry and wintery (though there was very, very little snow left). Though I did see a Yellow-bellied Marmot who crossed paths with me pretty nonchalantly. I think marmots are great and the only other one I've ever seen was on top of Half Dome, so seeing that one was great.

Sadly the Giant Sequoia is listed as Endangered and due to fire suppression efforts by the park, the sequoias cannot spread their seeds. Invasive species as well as carpenter ants are checked by these fires too and also contributes to their stunted new growth. The largest of them all by volume, General Sherman, lost its largest branch in recent 2006, and it was so large it cracked the pavement and decimated the fence beneath it. That is incredible.

The observation that stood out to me was this one:
The reason why is it was really the only good photo, though small, of the entire length of the tree. Most were of the base or in poor lighting, both which are understandable because they're SO BIG!

The last thing I would like to point out was a sign there underneath General Sherman which stated the perspective a 6 foot tall human gets staring up at the tree is the equivalent to what a mouse sees looking up at a 6 foot tall human. This made it easy to feel "small" in the world and see the bigger picture of the connected earth system we are all apart of, and I wish everyone could see and feel that.

We are extremely lucky to have Sequoia National Park, among other incredible parks, in California, and I'm happy to have checked another one off my list.

Publicado el 31 de marzo de 2014 a las 11:51 PM por bburs bburs | 1 observación | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

20 de marzo de 2014

Natural history story

I chose the Amanita muscaria (or Fly agaric) because it is such an iconic species that I before knew nothing about, let alone that it was here in California and in the East Bay!
Perhaps because it is such an iconic and mysterious looking mushroom it appears to have a lot of history.

Linneaus himself first named the Fly agaric! and then Lamarck re-classified it. So this mushroom should feel pretty famous in terms of natural historians. One theory suggests it was named for its use in getting rid of bugs in England and Sweden, and was even alternately referred to as a Bug Agaric. The mushroom has a compound which attracts insects, and it is believed that the flies actively seek out the mushroom for its intoxicating properties. Another theory proposes it was named in Medieval times where it was believed a fly could fly in through your ear and cause mental illness or delirium, like that caused when a person ate the mushroom.
While it is poisonous, it takes more than a few handfuls of them to kill you (according to documented cases). Many people in the past for spiritual rituals ate them for their psychoactive properties.
It is also I would argue the most iconic of all fungi because of its association with the Mario video games, and the character "Toad" short for toadstool, so it is a very unique fungus!

Publicado el 20 de marzo de 2014 a las 07:07 PM por bburs bburs | 1 observación | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

17 de marzo de 2014

Characteristics and traits

Since starting this class and making observations, along with the recent rains we have been having, I've been really interested in fungi! I've gotten a lot of tips from the fungi community here on iNat about the important characteristics to ID-ing various fungi, such as the gill structure, the top of the caps, and the stems. Even smell can distinguish, and so on.
It's very difficult to get up close photos with just an iPhone, especially with things like plants which have a lot of area it tries to focus on. But I did my best.
The two things I was most excited about were the Fly Agaric mushroom and a California Newt. The newt was not wet as I expected it to be, and I was also surprised at how far away from water it must have been. Its skin was rough but soft at the same time, and I wondered how could he possibly survive out there amongst the woods by himself -- he also moved really slow! I found out later his skin is toxic to ward off predators, and they indeed move away from water when they are done breeding (though it was early in the season, this was supposedly not until May).
The Fly Agaric was less dried out than his other fungi friends because he was in a permanently shaded part of the forest, and covered by a lot of leaves and pine needles holding in the soil moisture (I cannot believe I saw it). I learned later it is poisonous, which I think accounts for its vibrant red color warning "Stay away!".
The Sibley Volcanic Preserve was an amazing part of the East Bay!

Publicado el 17 de marzo de 2014 a las 03:18 AM por bburs bburs | 10 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

05 de marzo de 2014

Phenology exercise Feb 12

Whoops, after looking at other users in the group I realized I somehow missed the "make a journal posting" about the previous homework's rather than just tagging them. So here goes...

The entrance to a tiny park is right next to my house, called Garber Park. I climbed up in the mud to have a look for some taxa up there as I'd never been before. These plum tree (?) flowers were flowering all over the place! Little white flowers blowing around and on the ground. The buckeye was what I chose as a leafing out plant, these look much cooler when they are just beginning to "sprout" rather than when they're fully green. The branches are like long little arms holding plants on the ends.
There were lots of oak trees that were green because they are green all year long, but the one I've posted was not. There were quite a few of these and all tilted down hill in what looked like a previous landslide (caused a shady area, also spotted first fungi taxa!). Then lastly there were a lot of bare twiggy pushes around but I chose one that was thorny and different than the rest -- someone tagged it as a currant? But I am not sure. Perhaps I will go back soon and look at how it's doing and find out. However, seeing as flowering plants often times have thorns I am guessing it was a bare flowering plant.

Publicado el 05 de marzo de 2014 a las 09:39 PM por bburs bburs | 4 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Habitat observations Homework #4

I observed the very wet coastal redwood forest habitat found along the Dipsea Trail, which traces through the Muir Woods. It had just rained a few days prior and it was GREEN. There was moss absolutely everywhere, it was the most overwhelmingly green space I had filled my eyes with since I visited a rainforest in Australia. It was that green. There were tons of different types of mushrooms everywhere, a product of a damp environment. I was pretty fascinated with the different ones I saw that I researched them a little when I got home, and they grow crazy fast! And having rained just before, I imagine they had started growing a few days prior. These definitely could not be seen out in the Central Valley and require a damp environment. Once I crossed up and over the mountain to descend down to the coast, the plant life went from giant redwoods to small shrubby bushes, a product of a rain shadow. I saw quite a few banana slugs as well, imagine these things in the desert? Not possible.

The other species I tagged I saw in the Yosemite Valley which gets precipitation but nothing like the amount of constant fog that feeds the coastal old growth forest and its mushrooms. Yosemite had quite a bit of snow in the upper elevations, and you could see it coating the top of Half Dome, but very little on the valley floor. That being said there was very little wildlife to be seen, and instead of voluptuous fungi there were branchy lichens that were bright green and super cool. Most of the bushes or trees looked like they were struggling for water but Yosemite Falls was flowing pretty well all things considered from the previous rains, so this will probably start the plants to green out. Also, I only found one patch of them, but the Pixie Cups I found were so cool! I can't believe I spotted them.

Publicado el 05 de marzo de 2014 a las 09:24 PM por bburs bburs | 11 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

04 de febrero de 2014

Geo-171-2014 Homework #2

I have tagged species in the Mammals, Birds, and Insect taxa. It is interesting to note the time of years that some species are present, most notably the moth that I tagged. These moths have had a field day hatching outside of our front door and floating all over the driveway and, if the front light is left on, hover around the light and into the house. That is how it ended up on one of our toothbrushes. Once this moth is correctly identified it would be neat to note when these moths are present and in particular, their breeding seasons and hatching seasons.

Publicado el 04 de febrero de 2014 a las 05:16 AM por bburs bburs | 3 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario