25 counties to start, 33 to go!

A few months ago I began my goal of making 250 species-level observations in each of California's 58 counties, beginning by going through all of my earlier observations, dividing them up by county, and making a list for each one. (Really, laundry and dishes can wait!). After going through all of my previous records, I found that I had at least one observation from twenty five counties. Since beginning this project I've had the good fortune to go exploring with numerous exceptional inaturalists, including Kschnei in San Mateo, Gbentall in Monterey, and Karinakilldeer in San Benito. I also did a day trip to the Merced National Wildlife Refuge and have made numerous recent observations while tromping about in Monterey County.

And now, after a great deal of pleasurable time in the field (it certainly wasn't work! ;-) ), I am just a few observations away from my first 250 mark! Not surprisingly, it is in Monterey County, one of the most ecologically diverse counties in California and my home for the last 15 years. Doing this, I've become much more aware of the distribution of plants and animals that I previously barely noticed and am gaining a new appreciation for both the biogeography of the state and the status of numerous introduced and native species. This has inadvertently led me to seek out specific plants and animals wherever I go. One of these, the native Coyote Brush (Baccharis pilularis) is a distinctive, widespread shrub that until I began doing this, I never noticed unless it held an unusual bird. Now it is one of the key species I try and record in each county I visit. I am also amazed at the distribution of California Ground Squirrels (Otospermophilus beecheyi), having now seen them burrowing into coastal cliffs, hiding from hawks in the Central Valley, and scampering around the bases of Sugar Pines high in the Sierras. I know this information is readily available in any quality field guide, but it is a different experience seeing it (and acknowledging it) firsthand. I have also found myself especially interested in documenting the presence of Gulf Fritilaries (Agraulis vanillae) and both native and introduced squirrels and terrestrial mollusks. I'm sure these lists will grow, but the goal of providing an "overview" of each county's wildlife remains the same.

Over the next six months, I hope to:

Document free-flying, breeding parrots in at least two California counties
Find and identify at least six new freshwater or terrestrial mollusks
and
Learn to confidently identify at least six new species of seaweed and six new mushrooms

Good naturalizing!
RJ

Posted by rjadams55 rjadams55, November 15, 2015 23:06

Comments

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If you're traveling through the peninsula, there's a colony of parrots in Sunnyvale! They're almost always audible/visible behind the OSH. Same species as in SF, though.

Posted by sea-kangaroo over 4 years ago (Flag)
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Thank you! I had forgotten about those. Years ago I had friends in Sunnyvale and I would occasionally see and hear the flock flying around but never when I had binoculars or a camera with me, so I was never able to see what kind they are. What is the OSH?

Posted by rjadams55 over 4 years ago (Flag)
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Orchard Supply Hardware. :) It's the one at 777 Sunnyvale Saratoga Road. I've heard that they roost in nearby Las Palmas Park, but haven't checked it out yet. I usually only run into the parrots when I've neglected to bring any sort of telephoto with me, so only have rubbish photos myself.

Posted by sea-kangaroo over 4 years ago (Flag)
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Agreed -- awesome update on your adventure in exploring the counties of CA. :)

I too have read things in a field guide but am nonetheless amazed to see them firsthand out in the field.

Posted by sambiology over 4 years ago (Flag)
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One good low tide and we will knock off those 6 new algae species no problem! The best part? I get help with my dismal bird/spider/ terrestrial mollusk skills!

Posted by gbentall over 4 years ago (Flag)
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Thank your Karina and Sam! Gena, that sounds like an excellent plan You help me learn some marine algae and I will point out all of the California spiders that are absolutely, positively, and assuredly NOT Brown recluses! ;-)

Posted by rjadams55 over 4 years ago (Flag)
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This is so exciting! What a great a challenge for yourself! I love how diverse your interests are. Please keep us up to date.
I'm feeling inspired... but in Texas we have 254 (or so) counties, so the thought is a bit frightening. :)

Posted by rebecca_nh over 4 years ago (Flag)

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