June 27, 2017

2017 June 25--Odonates at Mom's Pond (Private Property), Umpqua, Oregon

I've been enjoying learning about Odonates--dragonflies and damselflies. About 70 species have been documented in Douglas County (Valley and Johnson). Not only are many of them readily distinguishable visually, they have habitat associations, behaviors, and flight styles that make them all unique. Some species mostly breed in and along streams, while others are primarily near pond habitats. Some perch often on the ground and are not very skiddish, whereas others are more easily startled and rarely land. The way they interact with their environment, with each other, combined with their diverse colors, shapes, sizes, and behaviors makes them fascinating to study.

I recently went to where I knew there were lots of odonates: my mother's pond on her private property in Umpqua. I was not disappointed. In a couple hour's time I was able to photograph 9 species of dragonflies, and I wouldn't be surprised if I missed a couple. I left without giving any time to photographing damselflies. That will be my plan for next time. Click on any of the observations below to access more photos of these critters from various angles.

Posted on June 27, 2017 07:50 AM by umpquamatt umpquamatt | 36 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

2017 June 24--Considering Slime, Dog Vomit, and Scrambled Eggs

Haha! These names crack me up (!), but they are quite descriptive of the appearance of this stage of the organism(s) under consideration here. My son Daniel came up with his name: "Sponge Bob's Brain," which I think should be considered at the next international convention of slime mold taxonomists. :-) But enough fun with names....

I want to present a few photos that show the two colors of slime mold that I have had in my area of wood chips, and both fresh (wet) and dry versions of the same blobs, the fresh ones in the morning, and the dry ones in the afternoon. Following is my June sequence of observations:

2017 June 24

Early in the morning on my way to my car I noticed this dried up ... something ... I took photos of the specimen intact (as I found it) as well as with a portion scraped away to reveal the inside:

After photographing the above dried up specimen, I immediately noticed a couple other blobs, one a creamy color and the other bright yellow. At first, because they both appeared to me to be slime molds, and they basically looked the same except for the color, I just put them in the same iNat observation. However, I subsequently separated them into the two following observations:

When I came home this same day in the afternoon, I noticed that what were moist blobs in the morning were now mostly dried up, like the first specimen I noticed this morning.

2017 June 25
After reading up on slime molds a bit, I decided to do something a little more experimental. So on this morning, I went out and found some new fresh specimens, both yellow and cream, and marked them relative to a (Pacific madrone) leaf on which I wrote either "cream" or "yellow." Then I came back later in the day and took photos again. Both when the specimens were wet and when they were dry, I took a little scrape of the blob to expose the interior. Following are links to the morning and evening observations:

Looking just at these few observations, it appears to me that the yellow specimens dried a bit slower, ended up not as black or hard in the middle, and did not turn as white on the surface, while the creamy specimens dried more quickly, ended up harder (more dense) in the middle, and overall more white.

So, perhaps these are different species? Or different morphs of the same species? Or perhaps "species" is not a relevant term for slime molds? I don't know. :-) I would appreciate any input in on these specimens, or anything I can do (look at something under a microscope?) to find out more.

If I take more photos of these slime molds in this patch of wood chips, I'll post links here.

Posted on June 27, 2017 06:47 AM by umpquamatt umpquamatt | 9 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 19, 2017

2017 June 18--A Visit to Fords Pond, West of Sutherlin, Oregon

0635-0915. I spent the morning at Ford's Pond. It was in the 50s F when I arrived and in the 70s F when I left. My primary goals were (1) to begin getting some iNat observations for Ford's Pond, and (2) to see what odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) I could find. It was a fun morning. I spent the entire time in the SE portion of the area, about half in the riparian woods and about half poking around in the weeds and near the pond edge. I found and photographed many introduced plant species as well as a few native plants, a handful of odonates, some bullheads (mini-catfish), a spider, a butterfly, a ladybird beetle, an introduced slug, an aquatic snail, some lichens, some beaver chew, and a variety of other things. I netted one introduced crayfish, but it got away before I obtained photos. eBird checklist here.

Posted on June 19, 2017 06:15 AM by umpquamatt umpquamatt | 48 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 02, 2017

2017 May 28--Serpentine Site in Upper Quines Creek

Two years ago, 2015, I saw this rather rocky, barren spot on Google Earth and decided to go take a look. In late March and late May of that year, I visited the site with Jimmy Billstine, looking for birds of interest. On the May trip we were successful in locating Poorwills, one of our target species. No other specialty birds were found, but it was clearly an interesting site and worth additional visits. On the first trip we accessed the site via the Quines Creek drainage, and the second trip via the Starvout Creek Drainage. The last leg of either route is not recommended for low-clearance vehicles, though you can get closer with a passenger vehicle by going up Starvout Creek. The east side of this serpentine site is on BLM land, while the west side is private industrial forest land.

On May 28 this year I went alone to look for Sagebrush Lizards! I am uncertain at this time if there are historical records for the species in Douglas County or the Umpqua Basin, as some published range maps show different boundaries (some crossing Douglas County, some not), but based on their habitat preferences and range, I figured that if Sagebrush Lizards did occur in southern Douglas County, this site would have a high likelihood of having them. I also figured I would enjoy some interesting flowers at this unusually large, open serpentine site.

The site has abundant exposed serpentine rock and very little soil. Dominant trees include Jeffrey Pine and Incense Cedar. Buckbrush, Canyon Live Oak, and Dwarf Silktassel are present, and numerous rocky site plants; otherwise, in this 6-hour visit I did not find any rare plants (that I know of). I was surprised to find a half-dozen Monadenia species snails (probably M. fidelis). Click on the landscape photos below to get a 360 degree look at the site.


As for the lizards, they were nowhere to be found in the early morning, but by about 10:00 and 75-80 F degrees, small Sceloporus sp. were scurrying this way and that to hide in the brush as I approached. These remained unidentified. However, all of the small and large lizards I adequately observed and/or photographed were Western Fence Lizards (see the many photos). While I can't say there aren't any Sagebrush Lizards here, the abundance of Western Fence Lizards lowers my expectations and hopes of finding a Sagebrush Lizard here. But if they are not here, I wonder if they are anywhere in southern Douglas County? After all, I thought I picked the best looking spot! Well, who knows? I'll have to try a couple other locations, and I've got a couple in mind....


Here is a bird list for the visit (some birds in the list were heard from the open serpentine area, but were in the nearby forest), and see below for documentation of some of the life I observed (click for more info and additional photos).

Posted on June 02, 2017 02:19 AM by umpquamatt umpquamatt | 74 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 21, 2017

2017 May 20--Coverboard Check and the River Trail at UCC

1009-1225. Low 60s F. Initially cloud cover. Sunny at end. On the way up to the first set of cover boards I photographed a set of flowers and grasses. There were many Western Skinks under the cover sheets today. One new species was found for the cover board project, a juvenile Southern Alligator Lizard. Two Western Fence Lizards were found as well, but these were under pieces of wood that were on top of metal roofing pieces, not actually under the sheets. As is typical most (in this case all) herps were in the upper two grassy sites, with no herps detected in the lower wooded sets of cover boards.

I walked the river trail to bait the trail cams. Along the way I photographed a few flowers, some tracks in the sand (an unidentified mammal, mink, and raccoon), and some crayfish and mussel shells.

Back on campus a solidly rusty-colored "wooly bear" caterpillar was slowly dying on the concrete path. It looked like it had been stepped on or damaged by a bird.

Bird lists:
Lee O. Hunt Arboretum
Kenneth Knechtel Park and river trail

Posted on May 21, 2017 05:24 AM by umpquamatt umpquamatt | 36 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 20, 2017

2017 May 17--Expedition to Rock Creek Watershed and the Calapooya Divide

I combined a desire to look for extralimital Oregon Slender Salamanders with a need to find a good sampling stream for stream amphibians for my Field Methods class and headed up Rock Creek, a major tributary to the North Umpqua River. I didn't know how far I would get before getting blocked by snow, but to my surprise I made it to about 4000 ft before running into any snow. There was one snow patch across half the road, but it was easily passable. The ridge at roughly 4000 ft, running between Huckleberry Mtn and Silica Mtn, at the headwaters of Mosby Creek (Willamette River drainage) and Pass Creek (tributary to Canton Creek, a trib of the North Umpqua River), had snow on the conifers in the morning when I first got up there. Temperatures in the morning were in the high 30s F and got up to the low 40s before I descended to lower elevations, where things began to warm up.

0913-1035 (43.54077, -122.78413). I started at the junction of BLM 23-1-13, 25-1-31, and Clark Creek Road, . I walked NE over the bank into an old-growth forest. This particular spot was roughly 3600 ft elevation, with a NE slope and moderately steep. It was one of those patches with little ground vegetation, likely because of the steepness, aspect and extensive multilayered canopy. The stand had highly diverse tree, snag, and log sizes and ages. The duff was deep. There were large class 5 logs mostly underground. It was like walking on a stiff bed mattress, a pile of hay, wood chips, or bark mulch--lots of interstitial space below my feet. Occasionally I would even fall through into an old rotten log. It's the kind of place that I've found Oregon Slenders in the Blue River watershed (McKenzie Basin). Given this great habitat, I was surprised to find only one salamander in over an hour of searching. The single Ensatina was "inside" a class 4 log that was half buried in the forest floor. I just happened to grip one grabbable hunk and turned it up, roots from nearby Western Hemlocks attempting to keep it in place, and there was this one Ensatina. I found zero amphibs just under scattered surface objects. I found a couple snails. It was about 40 F in the air and soil/duff. The duff and the inside of many buried rotted logs seemed oddly dry to me. Bird list.

This was the starting point for my trek back, so I began back the way I came.

1100-1154 (43.51805, -122.81308). I saw a few snags in this stand near the road and decided to check out the bark piles and whatever other cover I could find. This site was about 3950 ft elevation, along the ridge mentioned previously. It was at the top of a little knoll with a SSE aspect. It was not steep on the knoll, but was steep below it. It was still in the low 40s F here. This site had less canopy cover and a moderate understory of Rhododendron. The duff was not as deep here, but there were a fair number of small and medium logs, as well as a few snags with bark piles. Here I found a few more animals, 2 Ensatina, 1 Clouded Salamander, and a Vespericola columbianus snail. The Clouded Salamander used its tail to hold on to the bark piece as it descended to take cover after I let it go. Here too, all the salamanders were in locations quite protected, not just under loose surface objects. Bird list.

I had thought that since we had recently had almost a week of rain that there would have been more surface activity by the salamanders, but this did not appear to be the case. I am still pondering why the salamanders seemed in more long-term hiding locations, suggesting they had not been out recently. Was I too late, and their activity peaked a month or two ago? Or was I too early, and they would be out more with warmer rains? I don't know.

On the way down I stopped at a couple spots to look for stream amphibians without luck, and stopped to look at various wildflowers. I found some Douglas Maple at fairly low elevation which was interesting, as well as a few flowers new to me. Finally, I found a fresh pile of "vegetarian" bear scat right next to the road.

There were several nice streams and a few interesting rock outcrops (and a large quarry) worth further exploration.

Posted on May 20, 2017 04:18 AM by umpquamatt umpquamatt | 38 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 15, 2017

2017 May 14--A Quest for Snails at Home Reveals Much More

1530-1700. We've had some rain over the past week. Not having looked much for snails or slugs at our property, I decided to go out looking to see what I could find, and I figured the rain we've had over the last week would help my quest. I primarily looked in the closed-canopy oak woodland west of our house. I did find two species of snail and one slug species (two specimens); all native species. Both of the snails were with or in the process of laying eggs (see photos). A very green Pacific Treefrog revealed itself by hopping from its perch in the grass. They breed in my neighbor's pond to the north.

On my way to the oak woods I began to look at grasses, which I haven't studied for some time, and checked a couple sheets of metal roofing along my gravel road. A familiar, large (3-4 ft) Gopher Snake was present and gave me good photos and an impressive striking and hissing video (links in comments on that species; click photo below). While on the search for gastropods, I incidentally found a new vertebrate species for our property (not easy to do these days): an Ensatina (salamander). It was in a pile of scrap wood near our treehouse.

Rain has many positive sides.

eBird checklist for the outing.

Posted on May 15, 2017 07:26 PM by umpquamatt umpquamatt | 19 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 11, 2017

2017 May 10--UCC Coverboard Check

1200-1315. Today I checked all 36 cover pieces for the UCC Cover Board Project. The general trend continues, with a few Western Skinks under a few boards in the grassy areas, and not much else in other areas. The skinks were all small and very quick, and I didn't bother trying to catch any today for photographs. One skink was tailless, therefore lacking blue, which made it look much different than the others initially as it darted here and there. All data can be viewed in this Google Sheet. I did photograph a couple standard native mollusks, and a few now-blooming flowers. On my way driving from the college a spotted a Wild Turkey, so documented it for posterity. :-)

Posted on May 11, 2017 12:39 AM by umpquamatt umpquamatt | 8 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 09, 2017

2017 May 9--Pond Amphian Sampling Up Little River Area

0900-1110. Today I took my Field Methods class to a privately-owned rock quarry pond up the Little River Drainage, SE of Glide, Oregon. I had previously visited this location almost a month ago and obtained permission from the landowner to take the class out there. We drew rough maps of the site, collected some simple habitat data (water and air temp were both about 58 F), then began the search for amphibians. We located Northern Pacific Treefrogs tadpoles and one adult, as well as several adult Rough-skinned Newts, just as I had on my previous visit. This time, however, all in one small area near the back of the pond, one student found a concentration of Red-legged Frog tadpoles, which was exciting. While at the quarry pond area we also observed multiple Western Fence Lizards, a large garter snake (Thamnophis sp.), and one juvenile Racer. We started finding a lot of critters just before we needed to leave: Aaaaaaaah! It would have been easy to stay another couple hours!

Pond Amphib Sampling

Pond Amphib Sampling

Posted on May 09, 2017 11:02 PM by umpquamatt umpquamatt | 4 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 08, 2017

2017 May 6--More Exploring of Umpqua Community College (UCC) Property

1220-1405. After meeting with a student on this rather windy day, I decided to try to get a photo to represent the Umqpua Community College Biodiveristy Project for iNat. In doing so, I explored my way up to the NE corner of the property. On the way I was able to photograph a Painted Lady (butterfly), apparently a common species. Up near the NE property corner, I noticed a bee hive in hole in a very large Oregon White Oak. While up in that oak savannah area, I was able to photograph a couple butterflies. I am very new to IDing butterflies, so this has been fun and a challenge. Any tips as I begin this journey are appreciated. I uncovered one of the large dark millipedes, and based on input from @pileated I attempted to get photographs of the face of this one, which showed a vertical line, apparently a character distinguishing an order of millipedes. I also decided to go ahead and photograph some of the little itty bitty flowers that I had been ignoring recently. They are of course difficult to photograph with a cell phone, but I make due.

Posted on May 08, 2017 07:27 PM by umpquamatt umpquamatt | 30 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment


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