Thursday, July 14, 2016

A red milkweed beetle convention

The kids and I spotted this convention of red milkweed beetles on woollypod milkweed along the LATO trail during a May 20,2016 hike. Did you know that these beetles make sounds akin to a cat purring? Click on the link to find out what entomologists have learned about these colorful long-horned beetles. BG

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A special treat ~ Kitchen window view of swallowtail butterflies

These four photographs of Western tiger swallowtail butterflies were taken in a period of a few seconds.  The butterfly was enjoying the flower, fluttered its wings, and flew away.  I especially like the third photo because it almost looks like there are two butterflies.
I looked out my kitchen window and saw the butterfly on the flower, ran and got my camera, took a quick few photos, and the butterfly was gone.  It was a special treat. MK

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Wooly bear spotted along the trail

We spotted this wooly bear caterpillar toward the end of our July 11,2016 hike at the Pismo Preserve. The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History has published an interesting article about these "bears."

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Nearby nature ~ Amazing photos taken in Big Sur

These are gray whales, probably a mother and calf, headed north.  I took the photo from a cliff in Big Sur. MK

California condors need our help

California condor photos taken by Michael Klatt during a March 2016 trip up the coast to San Simeon. In 2013 nine condors released in central California died.  Lead toxicosis, when it could be determined, was the cause of the deaths.  During that same year, 22 other condors tested high in lead and would have added to the fatalities had they not received treatment.  We need to further educate those using guns to not use lead bullets in their hunting and shooting activities.  The condors need our help.  

Micro trash is also a problem for the condors.  They sometimes ingest small pieces of plastic that they find.  It is important to keep our cars clean when traveling along the Big Sur coastline.  The high winds that are frequent in the area, blow the trash and tiny pieces of plastic out of our cars when we open doors.  The condors eating the trash and plastic can get sick and die.  When we see trash alongside the roadside, we can help the condors by picking it up and disposing of it properly. 

Winter visitors

February 9, 2016 post from Mike and Ruby: This evening we watched cedar waxwings catching and eating insects in flight.  They usually eat fruit, but sometimes they will eat insects.  There must have been about fifty of them in the small oak trees in front of our house.  Quite beautiful birds that visit us in winter.  Their summer home range looks to be just a bit north of us.  We have only seen them once before in our yard.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Basic Birding Skills for Oak Ambassadors and Docents

These are great Oak Ambassador training resources from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Hikin' and likin' LATO trail lichens!

The January 29,2016 Oak Ambassador fungi and lichens training hike bunch with our guide Dennis Sheridan

The previous post features photos and notes about the fungi we found. Here are photos of the lichens we discovered. February 7,2016 - Notes coming...check back soon. Enjoy! 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Getting to know LATO trail fungi

The photos shown here were taken by Katrina Sharon during our January 29,2016 Oak Ambassador fungi and lichens training hike with our favorite fun-guy guide Dennis Sheridan. A word of caution: Do not ever eat a mushroom unless you're absolutely sure of its identity. Dennis shared that there are about 400,000 different kinds of mushrooms worldwide; roughly 10% are edible, 5% are poisonous. The ones in between? Not too tasty but not poisonous. Never touch, sniff or eat mushrooms unless you have expertise in mycology or you are guided by someone who does.

Updated February 7,2016
The January 29,2016 Oak Ambassador fungi and lichens training hike bunch with our guide Dennis Sheridan

Western Jack O'Lantern mushroom at the base of the old twisted valley oak trunk. This interesting mushroom is poisonous - do not confuse this with the chanterelle mushrooms! - and has the unusual ability to glow in the dark due to its bioluminescent spores.

We found many of these small, delicate Mycena sp. mushrooms along the first leg of the oak trail.
This mushroom and the one below belong to the Genus Lepiota. Beware, many members of this genus are highly poisonous. 

What a beauty! This colorful mushroom is a member of the Genus Boletus. Notice in the photo below that it has pores instead of gills. 

Rubbing the pores of this Boletes mushroom causes an instant color change from tannish orange to blue.
More picture of Boletes

This black beauty is an unknown fungus. Dennis reminded us that in science it's okay to say, "I don't know." We can use our best science sleuthing skills to try to find out.

Take a look and you'll see why these are called Turkey Tails!

This is Helvella lacunosa, or Black Elfin Saddle fungus.

Another picture of the Western Jack O'Lantern mushroom.

Agaricus campestris, the meadow mushroom, found along the Learning Among the Oaks trail.

See those tiny white droplets in these photos? This is a Lactarius sp., named for the milky latex exuded by the gills.

More pictures of the Meadow Mushroom

More turkey tails on an oak stump

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bewitching butter

Witches' Butter, found on fallen log along the Felsman Loop (Bishop Peak, San Luis Obispo), January 20,2016 (Erika Flickner and Bev Gingg)