Saturday, August 25, 2012

I found heaven in the Sierra's of California

North Fork of Kings River

          Early this month, Sam, Bailey Winter and I had the pleasure to enjoy the weekend by Wishon Reservoir. With us, though, we carried an entomological mind set so it wasn't your typical "drive to the edge of the Reservoir, get back in truck and head out later that night." As you may suspect, we were stopping and hiking at many places to more genuinely enjoy our time in the mountains.

Intimidated by the cold bite of the rivers water,
 we queasily laughed about jumping in.

After a night of light trapping in a shaded Pine Tree forest, we headed to the closest river for a nice refreshing bath. As it turns out, it was far more refreshing than nice. The water was about 40 degrees F, but it was a grand way to spent the afternoon. (Sam took the plunge first).

Me above the icy river, already frozen with fear.

As you can see by the picture, it really was a beautiful day but my facial expression after surfacing did not compliment the weather by any means. It did however, send a shock of life through my soul again which made it worth a second jump. Bailey was the next and last to take the jump of stupidity, but after all, it was a afternoon of lots of laughs and good times. We all made a splash.

Bailey bravely taking the leap of courage.

After all this, we agreed upon a last stop to collect and photograph a few more bugs. I had the idea of a meadow in mind, so we found a nice place on the side of the road to assemble our nets and stretch out our legs.

Xestoleptura crassicornis (Leconte)
Photographed by S.Wells 2012
This place was booming with Bycids! There were five to six species, all in great abundance, except an apparent Judolia species Sam found. It was incredible! There was Typocerus, Judolia, two or three species of Leptura and the most attractive, (in my opinion), Xestoleptura crassicornis. We were kids in a candy factory!

Xestoleptura crassicornis (LeConte)
Photographed by S.Wells 2012

To top it off, Sam found a great abundance of Bee's, which, he recently took interest in through a project he accepted at his work.

Bailey and I standing in a Cerambycid filled forest clearing.

Life rarely gets this wonderful for me. I've come to realize that my average happiness level is just below where I'd like it to be, but acknowledging this, I don't often have moments where I'm not optimistic toward the near future. The Outdoors is heaven on earth, especially when filled with friends, family and passion for nature.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

2 Year Anniversery at Shaver Lake

          Living in Fresno County during the summer months can take a Major toll on your psyche. Seeing the dead plants, bugs and streets almost dehydrates you all by itself. Luckily, I found a solution to this problem soon after I inherited an interest for Insects two years ago on August 17, 2012. Just add water!

Sam Wells and I went out looking for bugs last Friday evening through Saturday afternoon at Shaver Lake. This is a great place for swimming, fishing, boating and lots of bug collecting. Buprestidae (Jewel Beetles) are most always an exciting find for Sam and I, and we had Buprestis lyrata already in mind as a target. I had already collected a specimen earlier this week, but by the time I encountered it, I was packing up camp and headed home.

Shaver Lake

After a night of brief light collecting, we hiked around the lake the next morning. Looking under loose bark of Ponderosa Pine (the host for this Buprestid), in the air for a specimen in flight and on or around the actual tree. With no luck, we came upon the exact spot where I collected the previous specimen earlier in the week.

Me standing next to a stressed, yet still standing tall Ponderosa Pine

Sitting down, and running out of time for collecting, we patiantly waited for one to present itself to us. The spot was still haunted by the last specimen I encountered (It's a cool Beetle!!). After only seeing one fly by us, too fast to even attempted a swing of the net, time ran itself out and we headed back to camp. Only this time, in another direction...

Hidden behind a boulder only 20 yards away, there was a massive heap of miscalanious fallen branches. This discovery deserved a second collecting spurt, so we justly sacrificed another twenty minutes. To our appease, we spotted a beautiful specimen flying over the kingdom of branches and landing right on top. Sam cautiously crawled to the top and positioned his net underneath it. Considering risking a picture, he decided against it and knocked it on to the net where he then stuck it in his vial.

Pile of dead branches, including the key tree branch: Ponderosa Pine

Buprestis lyrata Casey

Buprestis species are often referred to as "Common, but uncommonly collected." this saying couldn't be more true. I've been lucky to collect this one and Buprestis viridisuturalis during my time in California, and the more Jewels I find the more fascinated I am with this family.