The 58-250 Project: A summer update

Number of counties with at least one record: 34
Number of counties with 250 or more species level (SL) observations: 2

Since I last updated this blog, several important milestones have passed in my attempt to document 250 species-level observations in each of California’s 58 counties. Often, my first observations in a given county are rather happenstance; I’m either driving past or camping in the region, but they are untargeted and every sighting is made with equal pleasure. However, once I begin to focus on a particular spot, I strive to get a representative sample of those species that are either widespread or symbolic of the area, such as the Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) in Humboldt County or the Joshua Tree (Yucca brevicola) in Riverside County, home to Joshua Tree National Park. At the same time, I’m also becoming increasing interested in those species that are widespread across the state, such as the California Ground Squirrels (Otospermophilus beecheyi) (six counties to date), the Pallid-winged Grasshopper (Trimerotropis pallidipennis) (seven counties), and Coyote Brush (seven counties) and documenting introduced species, both the widespread and the highly localized.
Since my last post, I’ve had several outings that have contributed significantly towards this project.

San Benito County (330 SL observations)

On May 21st, @gbentall and I participated in the Pinnacles National Park Bioblitz. From 8:45 am to nearly 9:00 pm we tromped about these ancient volcanic remnants, photographing plants, insects, birds, lichens, and more. It is one of the best preserved patches of chaparral in the area with healthy stands of Grey Pine (Pinus sabiniana) and Blue Oak (Quercus douglassi) along with a small, but productive reservoir. We had a friendly wager regarding who would find more species that day, but despite my best efforts (90 observations for the day!), her tenacity and amazing knowledge of small plants, both native and introduced, meant that my braggadocio naturalizing was handed back to me on a silver platter (with a healthy side of crow). :-)

El Dorado County (54 SL observations), Amador County (15 SL observations)

Between June 7th and June 11th, my wife and I joined friends for a relaxing camping trip in the Sierras at Silver Lake. At 7,500 ft, the snow had only recently melted away and I was captivated by the plethora of tiny flowers growing out of the shallow pans of exposed granite soil. Tiny monkeyflowers (Mimulus spp.) and buckwheats (Eriogonum spp.) were in abundance. Because I’ve only recently begun paying detailed attention to plants, I was also surprised to find and document four different species of conifer around the campsite. What I hadn’t realized at the time was that the Silver Lake West Campground was in El Dorado County, while just across the road, Silver Lake itself was in Amador County. After coming home, I was able to divide up the photographs and added an unexpected county to my list. Highlights of this portion of the trip include waking up to a singing Green-tailed Towhee (Pipilo chlorurus) each morning, watching a Brown Creeper (Certhia americana) feed its babies, and discovering an whole new realm of “belly flowers” (because I just need to be even more easily distracted! ).
A quick stop on Mormon Emigration Trail Road to look at butterflies on some blooming Deer Brush (Ceanothus integerrimus) also led to the discovery of a Sierra Clarkia (Clarkia virgata) and a first inaturalist record!

Sierra County (14 SL observations)

After five days of camping, going for a soak at Sierra Hot Springs sounded like the perfect way to end this portion of our trip. However, there is a caveat. There are certain protocols one should follow when visiting a hot spring, especially a clothing optional one, and these include not strolling around with a camera with a 300 mm lens! Fortunately, the camping area is about a third of a mile and behind several hills from the pools and there are enough small streams and boggy spots in the area to attract a decent selection of wildlife, including six species of dragonfly and damselfly, five of which were new to me (thank you for the help with these @jimjohnson and @aguilita ! )In addition to the odonates, I also delighted in watching over a dozen Common Nighthawks (Chordeiles minor) come in a dusk and feed over a small, brushy field. Their fast flying and the low light prevented me from capturing any sharp photos, but I did get some clearly recognizable ones and these represent my first photographed record of the species for California. While lying on the deck next to the hot pool, I also watched a large Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer) move through the grass only a few feet away, begging Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) babies calling from their nest hole, and a beautifully illuminated male Cassin’s Finch (Haemorhous cassinii) singing from the top of a nearby pine. But once again, without a camera, these observations will just have to wait until a future day.

Posted by rjadams55 rjadams55, June 21, 2016 19:22

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Skunky Monkeyflower Diplacus mephiticus

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 7, 2016

Description

These tiny monkeyflowers were common in shallow pans full of decomposed granite soil.

Photos / Sounds

What

Turkey Pea Sanicula tuberosa

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 8, 2016

Description

There were quite a few of these diminutive, yellow wildflowers growing in patches of exposed granite soil. Based on the plant's general structure, my first thought upon seeing them was a tiny buckweat, but I was unable to find any plant that was even remotely close to this on Calflora. The flower structure reminded me of a verbena, but there are no nyctaginacids known from El Dorado County. Any advice or insights would be greatly appreciated.

Photos / Sounds

What

Brewer's Monkeyflower Erythranthe breweri

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 8, 2016

Description

These tiny monkeyflowers were common in exposed beds of granite soil.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel Callospermophilus lateralis

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 8, 2016

Photos / Sounds

What

Mountain Jewelflower Streptanthus tortuosus

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 8, 2016

Photos / Sounds

What

Spurry Buckwheat Eriogonum spergulinum

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 10, 2016

Description

These tiny buckwheats were only about an inch tall and were fairly common in exposed granite soils.

Photos / Sounds

What

Torrey's Blue-eyed Mary Collinsia torreyi

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 10, 2016

Description

Several patches of these tiny flowers were found in sunny, leaf litter duff. It was separated from the similar C. parvilflora by the blunt tips of its calyx.

Photos / Sounds

What

Diamond Clarkia Clarkia rhomboidea

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 11, 2016 12:34 PM PDT

Description

This California endemic was identified by its habitat, the shape and color patterning on its petals, the exceptionally long stamens, and the lack of obvious hairs on the calyx.

Photos / Sounds

What

Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minor

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 12, 2016

Description

At dusk, at least a dozen calling Common Nighthawks were swarming together and feeding above a brushy field.

Despite the blurriness of the pictures, the placement of the white wing bar near the bend of the wing is clearly evident and while not recorded, their "Peeent!" calls were a constant refrain.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Hoary Skimmer Libellula nodisticta

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 12, 2016

Description

Male.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

River Bluet Enallagma anna

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 12, 2016

Photos / Sounds

What

Red-veined Meadowhawk Sympetrum madidum

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 12, 2016

Description

Adult male. My first thought is Varigated Meadowhak but the lack of white spots on the abdomen leaves me questioning. @jimjohnson What do you think?

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Striped Meadowhawk Sympetrum pallipes

Observer

rjadams55

Date

June 12, 2016

Description

Adult female. My first thought is Varigated Meadowhak but the lack of white spots on the abdomen leaves me questioning. @jimjohnson What do you think?

Comments

Thumb

This is an awesome project. If you still need to work on adding observations for Sacramento County I would have happy to go iNatting with you.

Posted by vermfly over 3 years ago (Flag)

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