Sunday, March 24, 2013

To the park and beyond

          Last Sunday I had an awesome picnic with my Aunt, Uncle and Cousin at Cottonwood Park on the borders of Fresno. A couple years ago, this would be the same park that I spent many hours collecting at after school. It never disappointed, either! Going back this time with a camera in the early spring was a real treat too.

If there is ever a local river at the collecting site, I'm there. First, I'll scan the bank for possible tiger beetle habitats, if there are non, I'll shuffle through any leaf litter and flip over any objects that could conceal ground-dwelling beetles. After these first two ritual steps: I peal the bark off the logs, which is almost always worth the effort under warm and damp circumstances. It certainly was today, too.

Pacific Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer catenifer)

 Under the first strip of bark I photographed a young Gopher Snake (Which consequently lunged mouth open at me missing by a couple inches after a couple shots). This was a good picture and story for the general public, but for my entomological friends: I found something just as cool:

 Hololepta populnea LeConte, 1851

My first Hololepta. I didn't even have them in mind at all that day, but these two specimens are in there (my thoughts) now. This isn't really an uncommon genus, but it's one that has a glow about it. They are so flat you can even make out the reflection of what appears to be clouds on their backs. I found some other cool Histerids too, but non large enough for a photograph.

 Cottonwood Park: March, 2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013

California Toad

          Yesterday at Woodward Park in Fresno, Sam and I saw this attractive toad while looking for bugs:

"I don't always eat bugs; but when I do, I prefer Diptera."
 Aside from this California Toad (Anaxyrus boreas halophilus), we saw a White-tailed Kite, Garter Snake, Lizards and an impressive variety of Bees. We had a couple specific beetles in mind that we were hoping to catch, but it was a few weeks early judging by the host plants not quite in bloom. We're planning on taking another trip in April.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sierra Foothill Conservancy

          Last week I was lucky enough to attend a hike hosted by my high school to the  Sierra Foothill Conservancy. This is a local reserve for Birders, Mushroomers and naturalists of other kinds to study the local fauna and flora; but it is commonly used as an excuse for club members to get outdoors.

View from the top of Table Top Mountain

It was a pretty cloudy day; we even got rained on a little bit. Although there were few flowers in bloom, the shrooms took advantage of the damp weather and it enabled me see the foothills through a different biological lens.

To be honest, I'm not motivated enough to find the species for these right now. I'd rather not take a guess at their species until I'm more confident in my skills. The photos did turn out very nicely on the bright side, though.

 This was the third time I've visited this reserve. I must say: the hike to the top was much easier this time than the former two. Much of this I attribute to the good hiking weather. The steep side of the mountain you see in the distance is just as steep as the one five feet away from where I was standing; the only way to the top is straight up the side! It was well worth the effort and I look forward to doing this pleasant day hike again.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pleocoma Gift

          A couple months ago, Sam went out to collect Rain Beetles (Pleocomidae: Pleocoma) and just happened to score a few specimens of Pleocoma tularensis. This was pretty exciting for either of us. What made this even more exciting, though, was that he gave me an A1 specimen right out of his vial.

Pleocoma tularensis Leach, 1933

This specimen filled in the seventh of 11 Scarabaeoidae families (at least in our area) in my collection. The other missing four are: Diphyllostomatidae, Glaresidae, Hybosoridae and Glaphyridae. Pleocomidae is especially significant because it exclusively occurs from southern Washington south to California, and reportedly, Baja California.