Five counties, a tumble, a hike, and a pair of long-sought lizards….

Inspired by Inaturalist and the proliferation of enthusiastic county birders, several years ago I decided to try and photodocument 250 species in each of California’s 58 counties. This pursuit has led me to places I never expected and pushed my interests and identification skills far beyond what I was focusing on before. Because of this project I’ve been impressed by the surprising botanical similarities and differences between central California’s coast ranges and the foothills of the Sierra. I’ve come to appreciate the weird, disjunct populations of typically Mojave species in parts of San Benito County’s Panoche Valley and have struggled through the identification of marine alga.

For my wife’s birthday we decided in June to backpack Humboldt County’s Lost Coast Trail. This trail is just under thirty miles long and runs from the Matolle River to Shelter Cove and much of it requires walking on soft beach sand or long stretches of unstable cobbles. Additionally, there are several stretches, each between three and five miles long, that are completely impassable at high tide as the waves crash against the seaside cliffs. The first day out I was thrilled to take pictures of dune wildflowers and saw a decent-sized haul out of Northern Elephant Seals. On the offshore rocks were Steller’s Sea Lions and over the four days of backpacking, at least five North American River Otters were observed in the tidepools, sunning on the cobbles, or swimming through the surf.

As anyone who knows me can testify, I have gazelle-like grace and balance. Admittedly, it is the grace and balance of a bumbling, easily distracted, drunken gazelle carrying a lopsided 45 lb. backpack. While crossing one of the first of many slippery, cobble-filled streams I took a tumble and bashed my camera on the rocks in the shallow creek. Water got into the camera and disengaged all the rings on the lens. Fortunately, the lens itself wasn’t cracked and after about 15 minutes of fiddling and coaxing and foul language I was able to get the lens working again. The camera itself was another matter. It wouldn’t allow me to change any of the settings or it would start scrolling through settings on its own. Sometimes it would allow me to erase pictures, other times it wouldn’t. Sometimes the autofocus would work, sometimes it wouldn’t. Still, I had a camera that while persnickety and damp, still worked well enough that I was able to add several lifers and quite a few new species to my Humboldt list. I was also able to take pictures of some of the most beautiful, isolated stretches of coastline I had ever seen. At times, we were the only people visible along miles of empty beach. We hiked along grassy, coastal bluffs and stepped over scattered whale bones while carefully traversing high piled plateaus of surf-round cobbles. We completed this portion of the trip over four days and three nights with plenty of time for lounging and exploring.

Next up, Fort Bragg and more Joshua Trees….

Posted by rjadams55 rjadams55, July 13, 2018 16:43

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Beach Suncup Camissoniopsis cheiranthifolia

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 09:37 AM PDT

Description

These flowers were common in the coastal dunes near the Mattole River mouth.

Photos / Sounds

What

Seaside Daisy Erigeron glaucus

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 09:37 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Yellow Sand Verbena Abronia latifolia

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 09:37 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Silver Beachweed Ambrosia chamissonis

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 09:37 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

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What

Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 09:37 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Seep Monkeyflower Erythranthe guttata

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 10:04 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Seashore Lupine Lupinus littoralis

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 10:04 AM PDT

Description

Based on this Lupine's exceptionally hairy stems, prostate structure, and location in northern California's coastal dunes, I believe this is one of two similar species; L. tidestromii or L. littoralis. Any advice or insights regarding the separation of these two species would be greatly appreciated!

Photos / Sounds

What

Beach Strawberry Fragaria chiloensis

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 10:04 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Bluff Lettuce Dudleya farinosa

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 10:04 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

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What

Bluff Lettuce Dudleya farinosa

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 10:04 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

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What

Orange Bush Monkeyflower Diplacus aurantiacus

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 10:26 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Seaside Buckwheat Eriogonum latifolium

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 10:26 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

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What

Broad-leaved Stonecrop Sedum spathulifolium

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 10:26 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

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What

Broad-leaved Stonecrop Sedum spathulifolium

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 10:26 AM PDT

Description

I especially like this photo because it shows both the smaller Sedum spathulifolium and a pair of larger, flowering Dudleya farinosa rosettes growing together in a crack in the coastal bluffs.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Bluff Lettuce Dudleya farinosa

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 10:26 AM PDT

Description

I especially like this photo because it shows both the smaller Sedum spathulifolium and a pair of larger, flowering Dudleya farinosa rosettes growing together in a crack in the coastal bluffs.

Photos / Sounds

What

Henderson's Angelica Angelica hendersonii

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 10:37 AM PDT

Description

There were quite a few of these tall Angelica growing along along bluffs along the immediate coastline.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Southern Stiff-stiped Kelp Laminaria setchellii

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 10:41 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

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What

Aggregating Anemone Anthopleura elegantissima

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 10:41 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Black Pine Seaweed Neorhodomela larix

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 10:41 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 10:41 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

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What

Striped Shore Crab Pachygrapsus crassipes

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 10:41 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Feather Boa Kelp Egregia menziesii

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 10:41 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Sea Sacks Halosaccion glandiforme

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 10:41 AM PDT

Description

I have included a habitat shot to illustrate the richness of the area's marine algae composition.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Gooseneck Barnacle Pollicipes polymerus

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 10:41 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 10:41 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Mossy Chiton Mopalia muscosa

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 10:41 AM PDT

Description

This individual is associated with Black Turban Snails (Tegula funebralis) and Gooseneck Barnacles (Pollicipes polymerus).

Photos / Sounds

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What

Common Raven Corvus corax

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 11:59 AM PDT

Description

This individual was feeding on what appeared to be the mostly devoured remains of a young seal.

Photos / Sounds

What

Northern Elephant Seal Mirounga angustirostris

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 11:59 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Pacific Gopher Snake Pituophis catenifer ssp. catenifer

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 12:34 PM PDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Steller Sea Lion Eumetopias jubatus

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 01:04 PM PDT

Description

@gbentall , would you mind double checking this for any California Seal Lions mixed in the herd.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

North American River Otter Lontra canadensis

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 01:20 PM PDT

Description

Over the course of four days of backpacking along the Lost Coast Trail, we saw at least five North American River Otters among the cobbles and tide pools of the shore.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Western Fence Lizard Sceloporus occidentalis

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 01:36 PM PDT

Photos / Sounds

What

American Century Plant Agave americana

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 19, 2018 01:36 PM PDT

Description

While not native to California, there was a cluster of these large agaves along with numerous smaller ones on the bluffs near a collapsing, long abandoned cabin.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Black Oystercatcher Haematopus bachmani

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 20, 2018 09:19 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Farewell-To-Spring Clarkia amoena

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 20, 2018 11:46 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Black-tailed Jackrabbit Lepus californicus

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 20, 2018 11:46 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Oregon Gumplant Grindelia stricta

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 20, 2018 01:14 PM PDT

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Spotted Cucumber Beetle Diabrotica undecimpunctata

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 20, 2018 01:14 PM PDT

Description

Feeding in a Oregon Gumplant (Grindelia stricta).

Photos / Sounds

What

Salt Grass Distichlis spicata

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 20, 2018 01:14 PM PDT

Photos / Sounds

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What

Common Sagebrush Lizard Sceloporus graciosus

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 20, 2018 01:43 PM PDT

Description

These were by far the most common lizards seen over four days on the Lost Coast Trail.

Photos / Sounds

What

Coyote Mint Monardella villosa

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 20, 2018 03:56 PM PDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Pacific Poison Oak Toxicodendron diversilobum

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 20, 2018 03:56 PM PDT

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Bluff Lettuce Dudleya farinosa

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 20, 2018 03:56 PM PDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Common Woolly Sunflower Eriophyllum lanatum

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 21, 2018 08:36 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Bolander's Phacelia Phacelia bolanderi

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 21, 2018 08:36 AM PDT

Description

When I first found this flower growing in the sands just a few hundred feet in from the immediate shoreline I thought it was some kind of Phacelia. Later I saw that it had only four petals on the flower, ruling this genus out. I've tried running it through different filters on Calflora without success. Any suggestions would be very appreciated. @gbentall , @grnleaf , are either of you familiar with this plant?

Photos / Sounds

What

Bugle Hedgenettle Stachys ajugoides

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 21, 2018 08:36 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Purple Martin Progne subis

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 21, 2018 05:57 PM PDT

Description

A flock of at least 20 Purple Martins, including begging young, were seen feeding over a coastal, stream-fed pond.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

American Goldfinch Spinus tristis

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 21, 2018 05:57 PM PDT

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Intertidal Jumping Spider Terralonus californicus

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 21, 2018 05:57 PM PDT

Description

This jumping spider was found on the beach just above the high tide line.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Mule Deer Odocoileus hemionus

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 21, 2018 05:57 PM PDT

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Yellow Sand Verbena Abronia latifolia

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 21, 2018 05:57 PM PDT

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Sea Rocket Cakile maritima

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 21, 2018 05:57 PM PDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Pale Swallowtail Papilio eurymedon

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 22, 2018 11:09 AM PDT

Description

There were six of these swallowtails clustered around and drinking at a cliff-seep.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Steller Sea Lion Eumetopias jubatus

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 22, 2018 11:49 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Harbour Seal Phoca vitulina

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 22, 2018 11:49 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Ochre Sea Star Pisaster ochraceus

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 22, 2018 01:37 PM PDT

Description

After a period of seastar wasting disease, I was very happy to see several clusters of 10+ very large Ochre Sea Stars.

Photos / Sounds

What

Thatched Barnacle Semibalanus cariosus

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 22, 2018 01:37 PM PDT

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Aggregating Anemone Anthopleura elegantissima

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 22, 2018 01:37 PM PDT

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Black Tegula Tegula funebralis

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 22, 2018 01:37 PM PDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Four-spurred Assassin Bug Zelus tetracanthus

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 22, 2018 04:11 PM PDT

Description

This assassin bug was found on the beach cobbles just above the high tide line.

Comments

Thumb

Cool spin on county birding. What a great idea!

Posted by dpom over 1 year ago (Flag)
Thumb

Ouch! I recently bricked a camera body, in a far less inspiring setting... Glad you at least salvaged the lens!

Posted by leptonia over 1 year ago (Flag)
Thumb

Thanks @dpom ! @leptonia , the funny thing is that once I got my camera down to Joshua Tree for a couple of days, it began working just fine again. I suspect that there was some residual moisture in the body causing the trouble that the dry desert air took care of.

Posted by rjadams55 over 1 year ago (Flag)
Thumb

Holy crap that's awesome! I'm going to take all my broken equipment to Joshua Tree and hope it is resurrected.

Posted by leptonia over 1 year ago (Flag)
Thumb

Oh, glad it sounds like your camera is working again!

That part of the coast is stunning, isn't it?

Posted by misschiffonade over 1 year ago (Flag)

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