Sunday, November 15, 2015

Another orb weaver from my Santa Margarita garden

A brown orb weaver spider found in my Santa Margarita garden. KS

The spider that hunts like a cat and spits venom!

Green lynx spider photographed at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo. KS

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The strange case of the blue bug that's not a bug

This is a blue sow bug infected with the Iridovirus (don't worry, humans can't catch it!). The virus causes reflected light to be blue. This bug is sick and won't last long.  More info. at Project Noah. KS

Saturday, October 17, 2015

They're called assassin bugs for a reason!

This is the Assassin Bug. They live throughout the world. Over 100 types of assassin bugs live in North America. They use a "beak" that is kept tucked under its. Head to pierce its prey. They eat other insects and will attack insects larger than themselves. THEY WILL BITE HUMANS. it's a very painful bite. Don't not handle. They come in many colors and sizes. KS

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Snail surprise in Santa Margarita

Katrina photographed this dark-bodied glass snail  in her Santa Margarita garden. These interesting snails are native to Western Europe but have migrated to North America. They live in decaying matter and can tolerate colder weather -- they are even found in Montana!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Orb-weaving wonders

Katrina Sharon captured these images of orb-weaving spiders at work in her Santa Margarita garden. Pretty amazing and beautiful! More info. about these spiders at Spiderzrule

Friday, June 12, 2015

Eyes on majestic bald eagles

LATO wildlife camera volunteers and friends enjoyed a special tour of this bald eagle nest on May 30,2015. The tour was guided by Margarita Adventures Naturalist and Wildlife Educator Sherryl Clendenen. Sherryl also serves as technical advisor for the LATO wildlife camera project. We're grateful to Sherryl and Margarita Adventures for this amazing experience. Photos by Katrina Sharon.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Butterfly catches eyes of BioBlitz hikers

We spotted this beauty along the oak trail during our May 22,2015 BioBlitz hikes with Mrs. Black's 3rd/4th grade class. Still working on i.d. and hope to post this soon.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Indian Milkweed (also commonly called Woolly Milkweed) provides food for hungry caterpillars

Indian or Woolly Milkweed, Asclepias eriocarpa, with monarch caterpillar and red-spotted milkweed beetle adult. Pictures taken May 4,2015 on the LATO trail. mk
We found this small monarch caterpillar on the same group of A. eriocarpa during the May 14,2015 hike on the LATO trail with Missy Teel's 2nd grade class. An exciting discovery for the kids!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

White-breasted Nuthatch has a fitting name

The White-breasted Nuthatch gets its name from its habit of jamming large nuts and acorns into tree bark, then whacking them with their sharp bill to “hatch” out the seed from the inside.

They eat mainly insects, including weevil larvae, wood-boring beetle larvae, other beetles, tree hoppers, scale insects, ants, gall fly larvae, caterpillars, stinkbugs, click beetles, and spiders.  They also eat seeds and nuts, including acorns, hawthorn, sunflower seeds, and sometimes crops such as corn.

The clutch size is 5-9 eggs.  They have one brood.  The incubation period is 13-14 days and the nesting period is 26 days.

Females build the nest on their own, lining the nest cavity with fur, bark, and lumps of dirt.  She then builds a nest cup of fine grass, shredded bark, feathers, and other soft material.  White-breasted Nuthatches often reuse their nest holes in subsequent years.

They build their nests in natural tree cavities or abandoned woodpecker holes.  They sometimes enlarge these holes but rarely excavate them entirely on their own ( as Red-breasted Nuthatches often do).

These photos were taken on May 2, 2015, on the LATO trail.

Ash-throated Flycatchers are busy now

The Ash-throated Flycatchers are busy getting some of the birdboxes ready for their nests.  The clutch size is 2-7 eggs. 
Ash-throated Flycatchers eat arthropods and small fruit.  Sometimes, they eat small reptiles and mammals.  It captures insects off vegetation and on the ground.  It's a “flycatcher” somewhat less often.
These photos were taken on May 2, 2015, on the LATO trail. mk 
Add caption

Friday, May 1, 2015

Bushtit nest discovery

This Bushtit nest was first noticed on the LATO trail on Sunday, April 25, 2015, by Ruby Klatt.  I took the photos on Friday, May 1, 2015.   

The male and female Bushtit spend a month or more building their hanging nest.  The nest may hang up to twelve inches below the anchor point.  There is a hole near the top that leads down into the nest.  The nest is made using spider webs and plant material.  Bushtits stretch the nest downward by sitting in it as the nest is being constructed.  Feathers, fur, and downy plant material are used to insulate the nest.  The outside is camouflaged using bits taken from nearby plants and the tree the nest is built in.  

The male and female Bushtit plus helpers sleep in the nest while it is active.  The nest is often used for a second brood each season.  There may be from 4-10 eggs in the nest.  The incubation period is 12-15 days, and the nestling period is 18 days. mk

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Quail chicks on the move

Today, April 30, I saw new quail chicks for the first time this season.  Quail are hatched ready to peck and run around following their parents.  So, these 15 may have just hatched today.  There are usually 12-16 eggs in a nest.  It’s not a great picture because they run as soon as they know I am there with my camera, but it is always exciting to see the new young quail.  
What do 15 quail chicks do when another bird passes overhead?  
Run and try to hide under their male guardian. mk

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The curious Western grey squirrel

Yesterday, as I stood under a tree watching the birdbox with the oak titmouse family (see previous post), I seemed to be bothering this western grey squirrel.  It made some pretty funny sounds, almost like a little dog growling at me.  I think it wanted me to go away.  It was the perfect opportunity for a great photo. MK

Oak titmouse family has fledged!

On Monday, April 20, 2015, we had a pair of oak titmouse in a birdbox at our house in Atascadero.  I watched them for a couple of hours as they flew in with food for their new young family and out with droppings keeping things clean and tidy inside the box.  On Tuesday, April 22, they were gone.  The young birds have fledged. M. Klatt

Friday, April 10, 2015

Ladybird beetles everywhere!

I took a walk through the Santa Margarita School Demonstration Forest ~ future Monarch Way Station yesterday (April 9,2015) and saw everything coming to life after this week's welcome rain. Every plant seemed to have at least one ladybird beetle. Can you find these in the photos below?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Welcome spring!

Hooded Orioles have arrived for the spring nesting season.  I took this photo out of our kitchen window this afternoon. The photo is a bit fuzzy because of the glass.  I remember one of our students asking about the bright yellow bird that they saw.  I think this is what they were talking about. M. Klatt/April 7,2015