Monday, April 28, 2014

A closer look at wild hyacinth reveals tiny surprises

On April 27, two days after 0.2 in of rain fell on the LATO trail, I took a walk enjoying the many wildflowers on display. The lupine are putting on a spectacular show.  Look closely at this photo of a wild hyacinth and you can see a what seems to be a tick.  These are not ticks! They are plant mites, crawling rather quickly around some of the nearby flowers. Ticks and mites have a similar appearance because they are related. More information about mite taxonomy. Each science discovery leads to more questions!                                                             
--- Shared by LATO docent Mike Klatt, April 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

House sparrows at home in the school forest

The birdbox that is close to Dona’s library box in the demonstration forest (at Santa Margarita School) is active with house sparrows’ nesting activity.  The house sparrow was introduced from Europe in the mid- 1800s. You can find the house sparrow nesting in any sheltered cavity from birdhouses to streetlights.  It eats seeds and insects and often seeks handouts such as bread crumbs.
Photos and notes shared by LATO docent Mike Klatt, April 16,2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

White-breasted nuthatch catches our eye

I was watching up in the tree as they (Cal Poly students and Oak Ambassadors) were filming, and I was treated to this white-breasted nuthatch show.  I would guess that there might be some nest building going on.  The white-breasted nuthatch is a cavity nester.  So, some of the holes that we have been watching should be a home for some new baby birds this spring.  The nuthatch was actually traveling down the tree, but it seemed easier on the eye to rotate the photos.  

Shared by LATO docent Mike Klatt, March 13,2014

Acorn woodpecker brawl?

A group of acorn woodpeckers have been using an old, dead, willow tree in our yard to store acorns and have built some cavities for nesting.  Today, there seemed to be a battle.  Our guess is that a group of outsiders arrived hoping to take over the tree.  There was wrestling on the ground with beaks looking to be used a swords.  The intruders seemed to be bothered by my picture taking, but the locals are used to us.  The willow tree is right next to our house.  There were about six or seven woodpeckers “fighting”.  I even saw one off in the distance watching from a nearby fencepost.There looked to be a little hug when the intruders left.

Shared by LATO docents Mike and Ruby Klatt, April 15,2014