July 10, 2024

Butterflies with damaged wings - how can they still fly?

I see so many butterflies with damaged wings and I'm amazed that they can still fly. Here are my observations of butterflies with tattered wings. All but two (who were caught in spider's webs) were still able to fly:

I reached out to my friend @biohexx1 to get some insight about this phenomenon that has been puzzling me for years (he's so much better at searching the web than I am!) I'm recording his comments here so they're easy to find and review in future years.

@biohexx1 says:
" I think the biggest contributor to damaged wings are diseases of the pupae. The butterfly will come out with a deformed wing. The next biggest contributor are bird-strikes. Birds will take a nip at butterflies in flight like this: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1IgsRxikv-o&pp=ygUWRGFtYWdlZCBidXR0ZXJmbHkgd2luZw%3D%3D

Bird-strike wings are probably seen the most since they are mobile, whereas butterflies born with malformed wings probably die soon since they are not able to get nectar. I think the third most common damaged wings are from just age. The wings start to degrade over a season; beautiful things do not last forever.

Having said all of that, I think there is a enough wing to allow #2 and #3 above to fly. They may have to expend more energy since they are not as aerodynamic as normal butterflies, but they persevere. I am always amazed at seeing them fly. For me, having been on hikes, I've witnessed sad events towards mid-to-late summer when flowers are all dried up here in San Diego. I've seen many Behr's Metalmarks on the trail without nectar to feed on and just flitting low to the ground. I knew their time was almost up. But again, beautiful things do not last forever. Appreciate them while they are here! And I do. I love butterflies."


Posted on July 10, 2024 04:28 PM by truthseqr truthseqr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 27, 2024

Bull Mallow (Malva nicaeensis) - Variation in Size within a County Park

On May 26, 2024, I noticed several Malva nicaeensis plants of very different sizes. The smallest one was no bigger than the palm of my hand (in breadth and height). The largest one was waist high (approx. 35 inches). Very interesting! Especially in light of the fact that Jepson eFlora states that M. nicaeensis only grows to 2-6 dm (23.6 in) tall.

Sample 1: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/218510391
This plant was very tiny - no bigger than the palm of my hand (~3 inches in diameter; ~1.4 in tall). The flowers and fruits were also very tiny. This plant was growing in the hard-packed dirt on the trail under full sunlight.

Sample 2: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/218510400
This plant was as tall as my hand (~6 in) and only a few inches wide. It was growing in the shade under sycamore and California bay trees.

Sample 3: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/218510444
This plant was twice as wide as Sample 1, but the flowers and fruits were about the same size. It was also growing in hard-packed dirt in the middle of the trail in full sunlight.

Sample 4: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/218640472
This one was knee high (~20 inches). It was growing in the shade under some oak trees. The tips of this plant had been nibbled on - perhaps by the nearby herd of cows, so it was probably once taller than the measured height.

Sample 5: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/218640481
This one was lying prostrate on the ground, but when I raised the stem, it was waist high (~35 inches). There were three main stems and lots at the leaf axils along the stem. It was growing with milk thistles along the side of the trail in full sun.

Sample 6: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/218640479
I also noticed some M. nicaeensis leaves infected with some sort of virus. This is a new observation for me.

Posted on May 27, 2024 07:07 PM by truthseqr truthseqr | 4 observations | 2 comments | Leave a comment

July 14, 2023

Barn Owls

On Friday (2023-07-07) my granddaughter and I saw two barn owls in a large pine tree. There were three nests - one was about 2-3 times the size of the others. A juvenile was next to the largest nest staring down at us. We briefly saw an adult flap its wings and then settle down into one of the smaller nests. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera that day, so we went back on Wednesday (2023-07-12). We didn't see the owls, but evidence of their presence was there: bird droppings on the sidewalk, many feathers and we counted 9 owl pellets.

Posted on July 14, 2023 12:44 PM by truthseqr truthseqr | 17 observations | 5 comments | Leave a comment

June 19, 2023

Snapshot Cal Coast 2023

Snapshot Cal Coast Bioblitz (June 17 - July 9, 2023)

Day 1 (June 17, 2023; 171 observations; 94 species)
I walked the 4.4 miles around the Sunnyvale WPCP Pond in the Baylands near the Sunnyvale Recycling Center.

  • I recorded 21 species of birds, but it seems there should be more. There perhaps a hundred or more mallards out on the bay, with some ruddy ducks, an occasional gull, cormorant, and a few pelicans flying overhead. There have been days when I've seen dozens of species in one day. Where are all the birds?
  • I saw two mallard families with a total of 16 babies. Always so sweet!
  • There were so many lizards and they all look quite different. I couldn't resist photographing all of them.
  • The pond turtles were out sunning themselves. Yay!
  • The water was so green!
  • Predators have been busy. I saw 2 dead ducks, a few gull wings, and jackrabbit remains.
  • I recorded 49 species of plants. Unfortunately, only 15 were native and 12 of the 34 non-natives are invasive species.

Day 2 (June 18, 2023; 125 observations; 76 species)
I visited Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge and surveyed the area around the visitor's center because the main trails are still closed due to construction. I also briefly visited the nearby Alviso Marina County Park.

  • The coyote brush shrubs and California buckeye trees look so healthy after all the rain this past winter. Last year they looked very shriveled and pathetic after many years of drought.
  • I recorded 14 species of birds - many were different from those I saw at Sunnyvale Baylands. Black-necked stilts and cliff swallows were the most common species.
  • There were a few lizards, but not nearly so numerous as at Sunnyvale Baylands.
  • I recorded 49 species of plants: 27 were native and only 6 of the remaining 22 non-natives are invasive species.

Day 4 (June 20, 2023; 82 observations; 55 species)
I visited Coyote Creek Lagoon at Don Edwards for a couple hours. There were a few species not found at either of the previous locations. I didn't photograph most plant species that were also found at the other two sites. I saw 19 species of birds.

Day 9 (June 25, 2023; 172 observations; 86 species)
I visited two locations in the South Bay: (1) the area where the Guadalupe River flows into the bay, and (2) the perimeter of Salt Pond A4 near the Sunnyvale recycling plant. These are the only areas I know of in the South Bay where you can actually walk along the shore. Alviso Marina & Don Edwards are doing maintenance work, so their shorelines are closed to the public right now.

  • The trail was almost completely obscured by 6-7 ft. tall smilo grass, oats, mustards, Cretan mallows, and thistles. It was like walking through a dense prickly jungle. Not pleasant. As soon as I was able to get down to the shore, I walked there instead and found lots of small crabs, a few clams and mussels, and a turtle carapace.
  • There's an interest in saline-tolerant Quercus, so I've been documenting every Q. lobata that I run across in the Baylands.
  • I've seen very few honey bees this season - quite alarming!
  • There are a lot of artichoke thistles (Cynara cardunculus) around Pond A4. I know they're non-native, but they're huge and have beautiful purple flowers, I think they're pretty, and the yellow-faced bumble bees love them.

Day 12 (June 28, 2023; 123 observations; 72 species)
I walked the Adobe Creek Loop Trail at Shoreline Mountain View for a couple of hours. At the northernmost point, the tide was receding, so I climbed over rocks to get to the shore to find some shells. Bad idea! I inadvertently stepped in sinking mud up to mid-thigh and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get out by myself. I got a taste of what it must've been like for the animals at La Brea Tar Pits. I eventually pulled myself out, but I was covered in mud from head to foot and had to walk the 2 miles back to my car looking like the creature from the black lagoon. So humiliating! But I got some good pictures and found a few more species not documented at the other sites. My favorite sighting of the day was the big black-tailed jackrabbit resting in the shade.

Posted on June 19, 2023 12:57 PM by truthseqr truthseqr | 4 comments | Leave a comment

March 27, 2023

GPS wasn't set properly

I somehow screwed up when setting my phone GPS to record. Ugghhhh! I hate when I do that. Had to set all locations for my Joseph Grant observations manually, to the best of my memory.

Posted on March 27, 2023 01:42 PM by truthseqr truthseqr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 19, 2022

Coyotes at Ed Levin County Park

It was the day of the coyote at Ed Levin. I saw three coyotes and got some good pictures. What beautiful animals! One climbed the hill and then sat down and watched me take pictures. I was able to get recordings of the coyotes, too. That was exciting!

Some people had a doberman off-leash and off-trail. The dog was following two coyotes. I told the guy to put a leash on his dog and he cussed me out. I was wondering if the two coyotes would kill that dog?

Posted on December 19, 2022 10:01 AM by truthseqr truthseqr | 5 observations | 2 comments | Leave a comment

December 16, 2022

Bear Creek Redwoods - a magical place in the winter

It's been a long time since I've hiked Bear Creek Redwoods. I'd forgotten what a magical place it can be in the winter. So many beautiful mushrooms, lichens, ferns and moss.
I thought my camera's battery was fully charged, but I guess not. It ran out of juice halfway through my hike. Maybe the fact that I had to use the flash for almost all the photos drained the battery faster than usual. There were so many more things I wanted to photograph. I'll have to go back soon.

Posted on December 16, 2022 06:44 PM by truthseqr truthseqr | 29 observations | 1 comment | Leave a comment

November 07, 2022

Collecting data on local Malvas (May 2022)

There seem to be a lot of misidentifications of Malvas in the San Francisco Bay Area. I'm on a mission to learn as much as I can about these plants and help identify the observations for our area. I've been posting many observations of Malvas in the South Bay, hopefully with enough evidence for proper identification. In most cases I'm taking measurements either with a ruler or millimeter grid paper.

I've created an umbrella project with subprojects for each species in our area:

As I gather more info, I'll create a "How to Identify..." journal post for each species along with "How to differentiate..." sections for similar species and references to Calflora, Jepson, and others.

Some things I've noticed:

  • Malva multiflora (Cretan mallow) tends to grow near the Bay and waterways (e.g. Calabazas Creek).
  • Malva parviflora (Cheeseweed mallow) and M. nacaeensis (Bull mallow) can be seen all along the trails at Ed. Levin County Park. They are very small plants and sometimes look the same until you inspect them closely. Some of these plants I could hold in the palm of my hand they're so small.
  • Malva assurgentiflora (Island mallow) and M. subovata ssp. bicolor (Sea mallow) are mostly cultivated. There's an established population of M. assurgentiflora at Shoreline. Is it wild or cultivated? There are several M. assurgentiflora at Ulistac Natural Area, but they were planted by humans.
Posted on November 07, 2022 06:44 PM by truthseqr truthseqr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Lots of big animal bones

There's an area I hike at Ed. R. Levin County Park that seems to have an inordinate number of big mammal bones (6 deer and 6 domestic cattle since November 2020). Makes me wonder if a mountain lion lives nearby? Bones found at Ed R. Levin County Park.


Posted on November 07, 2022 06:41 PM by truthseqr truthseqr | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 25, 2022

A good day for Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) sightings

There were dozens upon dozens of Black-crowned Night-Herons today at the Baylands - too many to count. I'm happy to say there were lots of juveniles, too.

There were also lots of Brown-headed Cowbirds, Ruddy Ducks, Northern Shovelers, and surprisingly, several patches of Datura.

Posted on September 25, 2022 02:37 PM by truthseqr truthseqr | 23 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

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