Journal archives for July 2018

July 13, 2018

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 on July 13, 2018 16:43 by rjadams55 rjadams55 | 60 observations | 5 comments | Leave a comment

July 15, 2018

Fort Bragg

After four days hiking along the Lost Coast Trail we headed south to a studio I reserved in Fort Bragg, Mendocino County. One of the odd results of my tumble and camera mishap was that the fully charged battery in my camera completely drained after using it for only about 20 minutes each day. Normally, I can spend four or five days doing near constant photography before I have to replace the battery, but I chalked it up to water in the machine and moved along. Luckily, I had a second, fully charged battery waiting in the car at the end of the hike.

We arrived in Fort Bragg and spent several hours exploring MacKerricher State Park. This small park has amazing tidepools, long stretches of sandy beach, and beautiful coastal bluffs. The tide was quickly coming in, but I was able to get a few shots of seaweeds in the upper intertidal (thanks for the ID help @hfb and @gbentall !) and spent about twenty minutes strolling along on the bluffs. While most of the coastal wildflowers had already flowered, there were still scattered Sea Thrifts (Armeria maritima) and Seaside Daisies (Erigeron glaucus) in bloom. I also saw that my battery was already half drained. By that evening it empty and any more photography would have to wait until I got home and could recharge them. Still, I was able to add several new species to my Mendocino County list as well four "lifers" (Largemouth Bass and three seaweeds) to my overall list.

And for those interested in this sort of thing....As of June 23, 2018, I have:

Inaturalist documented at least one species in 43/58 California Counties
Have 100 or more photodocumented species in 7/58 counties
Past 250 photodocumented species in two counties (Monterey and San Benito)
Mendocino County now has 56 species

And since the beginning of the year I have added 112 new species to my photodocumented life list of 1744 species!

Sometimes it's just fun to share! :-)

Posted on July 15, 2018 23:28 by rjadams55 rjadams55 | 10 observations | 1 comments | Leave a comment