Journal archives for June 2017

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 by umpquamatt umpquamatt | 74 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 by umpquamatt umpquamatt | 48 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 27, 2017

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 by umpquamatt umpquamatt | 9 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

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 by umpquamatt umpquamatt | 36 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment


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