Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Galls and the CVBS

The gall book is in! The galls in my 11-9-07 post that look like puffy pink stars crossed with inflated rubber gloves crossed with udders appear to be made by the Spined Turban Gall Wasp (Antron douglasii).

A few notes about the Central Valley Birding Symposium (CVBS, Nov. 15-18, 2007):

The event was in a new location this year; in fact, we were the first people to stay in the new hotel. The hotel is right next door to an arena, and on the Friday of the CVBS, Ozzy Osbourne was playing. We could hear “Crazy Train” in our hotel room. Someone told me that Ozzy was opening for Rob Zombie, which isn’t fair – Ozzy is too established to open for someone. Would there be a Rob Zombie without Ozzy? Discuss.

During the CVBS, I went on a couple of field trips – Eastern Stanislaus County on the Friday of the event, and Woodbridge Regional Park in Lodi on Saturday. At one of our first stops on the Eastern Stanislaus County trip, we birded a very pretty piece of riparian habitat in the campground of Turlock Lake State Park/Recreation Area. Check out the enormous acorns I found there (the acorn obsession continues):

Here is a Pacific Treefrog that was under the sink in the bathroom at Knights Ferry (also during the Eastern Stanislaus County trip):

Here are some dinner plate-sized mushrooms at Woodbridge Regional Park in Lodi:

Well, I’m getting sleepy, so I’ll try to talk more about the CVBS in a future post.

Good night,

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bug ID

I just found out about the folks at BugGuide. Here is how they describe themselves, “We are an online community of naturalists who enjoy learning about and sharing our observations of insects, spiders, and other related creatures. We enjoy the opportunity to instill in others the fascination and appreciation that we share for the intricate lives of these oft-maligned creatures.”

Apparently, you can post a photo and get assistance with identification. So, I plan to post this caterpillar (I'll post a better photo for the ID folks). I took the photo on 4-17-07 in Rockport, Texas, which is on the coast, NE of Corpus Christi. We were in the area for spring migration, which was awesome!

Friday, November 9, 2007

CRP at the CRP

Isn't this the prettiest poop you've ever seen? Well, I assume that it's poop, and I am not the only one who photographed it, so there. It looks like it's oozing grape juice. The poop is one of the many cool things we saw today at the Cosumnes River Preserve. We also saw some interesting insect galls on Valley Oak leaves. In the pictures below, check out the feathery thing with dew on it that is on the oak leaf. I didn't notice it until I downloaded the pictures. Speaking of galls, this field guide is near the top of my book shopping list: Field Guide to Plant Galls of California and Other Western States, by Ron Russo. I've included some pretty lichen photos below, too.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Stuff I found this week

I found some cool things in and around work this week. On my morning walk on Tuesday, I found this nest on the sidewalk – it’s past nesting season, and it was there waiting to get squashed, so I didn’t feel too bad about taking it home. It’s fairly small -- it could have been made by a goldfinch, but I’m not sure. I’ll have to look it up.

Later that day, at a thrift sale at work, I got this neat ring

and put a bid on this print of what I think is a peony (my grandmother’s favorite flower). I found out on Wednesday that my bid for the print was successful. Here is the whole print, then a detail of the flower, then a detail of the leaves.

I also picked up this interesting wine cork

and a package of chenille stems (aka big, fancy pipe cleaners), with which I might make some flowers and these acorn cap dolls. So, I totally scored at the thrift sale!

Today, I picked up this glorious Jumbleberry Pie at a local small business that my friends and I frequent -- The Real Pie Company.

It is described as a “jumble of berries -- blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and cherries -- in a traditional (and all-butter) pie shell.” This is the second time I’ve tried this pie, and I love it even more the second time. It’s reminiscent of Marie Callender’s Razzleberry Pie, but a million times better. Ooooo, it seems blasphemous to even mention The Real Pie Company and a chain bakery in the same paragraph! You can tell that I love berries -- on the left side of the photo, you can catch a glimpse of the strawberry-print spoonrest on my stove.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

My Fashion Sense is Immense … Not!

This entry is not about hummingbirds. I just wanted to include a photo :-)

When asked about his appearance, UC Davis Professor (of evolution, ecology, and entomology) Art Shapiro responded, "I dress the way I do because I believe in the supremacy of content over display. I'm also more comfortable." Ah, a kindred spirit. Check out the Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley Regions, which was authored by Art Shapiro and illustrated by Tim Manolis. For more about Art, see this site and this one.

My husband says that I am the Princess and the Pea because my clothing drives me crazy if it doesn’t fit just right. For me, “just right” has nothing to do with style (what’s that?) – it’s about having my clothes fit just loosely enough so that I can’t feel them constricting my movement. Still, I do love sparkly things, like nail polish. I rarely wear nail polish because 1) I am VERY easily distracted, and I tend to stare at my painted nails instead of um, concentrating on the task at hand; and 2) I can feel the polish on my nails, and it feels like my nails can’t “breathe.” OK, so I’m a nut, but I CAN feel the polish on my nails, and it bugs me. So, I was happy to find Neutrogena’s Instant Nail Enhancer in Pearl Sheen, because it makes my nails subtly sparkly, lets them “breathe,” dries instantly, and doesn’t smell toxic.

In terms of "fashion," I love earrings with nature themes, striped socks, striped tights, socks with nature themes, and my shiny black London Birkenstocks (they look like shoes a Hobbit would wear).

Thursday, November 1, 2007

In science, beauty … and humor

My husband shared the Botany Photo of the Day site with me, since he knew I would love the byline “In science, beauty. In beauty, science. Daily,” and the photos, of course.

A friend shared the following excerpt from Animal Skulls: A Guide to North American Species, by Mark Elbroch:

"Antlers do offer some offensive and defensive benefits to the
wearer. Yet they are designed to minimize the chance of injury during
conflicts and were created for sparring, not spearing, competition.
Antlers also visually display the health and vigor of males. A moose
with a smaller rack would never challenge one with larger antlers.
One researcher, Anthony Bubenik, put this to the test with Alaskan
moose. After constructing incredibly large antlers for himself, he
joined the courting area. The males quickly backed off, and Bubenik
was unexpectedly confronted with numerous receptive females."