Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Latticed Stinkhorn

Latticed Stinkhorn (Clathrus ruber)

On a recent morning walk in which I had debated whether to even bring my smartphone, I was glad I had chosen to bring it when I spotted some Clathrus ruber growing in the landscaping along Sunset Boulevard near Kirkham Street (on the 36th Avenue side). As you can see from the photos below, this is a pretty large fruiting, with many "eggs" ready to unleash a lovely orange stink-basket of fungus. 

On subsequent days I returned on my e-bike to check out the progress. On the second day, the first basket had petered out, and I wondered if the whole thing would just dry up. But on the third day it looked like the fruiting was still on. I missed the fourth day because I was at Duxbury Reef, but returned this morning to find things coming along nicely. 

This morning was also the first time I'd actually seen flies enjoying the stink. I got an unpleasant whiff of the sewer-like odor myself when I took some close-up shots with my Nikon. It was definitely the kind of unpleasant smell only a fly could love, but thankfully it didn't carry very far. I couldn't smell it at all until I got right down there with it. Despite its olfactory hideousness, the fruitbodies have a really interesting color and texture. I'm curious to see if the fruiting continues this week as the weather turns warmer and drier (it was even sunny at the beach this morning), but I'm not sure I'll have time to check up on it again.

Progression of Fruiting

A Fly's Delight

Artsy Fartsy Fungus

Egg Basket

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Monday, August 29, 2022

Predatory Snails


Snails Sharing a Meal
(click images to view larger)

I couldn't tell what those two snails (dogwinkles?) were up to, even with my glasses on. I figured they were either mating or fighting. But as soon as I got the image up on my computer screen I could tell that the "weird appendages" I'd seen through my lens were not parts of the snails, but were actually crab legs. Earlier I'd watched a crab escape from my prying eyes by burying itself in pebbly sand. It seems a little amazing that a snail can catch a crab. Although it also seems amazing that even sea anemones catch crabs. I would  soon find one such kelp crab being devoured by anemones and possibly a turban snail, which is supposed to be an algae-eater.

With low tide arriving before sunrise over the weekend, and not being terribly low at that, I was unable to roust myself out of bed so early for the hourlong drive out to Duxbury Reef. I wasn't even sure it would be worth the drive this morning despite a post-sunrise low tide of +0.46. Although there wasn't a whole lot of reef to explore by the time I got there, I was reluctant to leave even when the reef had mostly returned to its underwater realm. If I'd been in Hawaii I'd probably have gone snorkeling. I didn't want to stop to exploring. 

Pair of Snails Feasting on a Crab

Limpet Covered with Tiny Animals
(the white things with black dots)

Close Crop of Limpet Shell

Hermit Crab Hanging Out

Deadly Elegance

Captured Kelp Crab

Camouflaged Kelp Crab Playing It Cool

Small Mossy Chiton

Another Strange Unknown Creature Similar to This One
(Note brown cylindrical waste pellets around it.)

Band-Tailed Pigeons Feeding on the Bluffs at Agate Beach

Wider View of the Group
(feeding on dirt?)

Very Shaky Video of the Band-Tailed Pigeons

On The Edge (Bolinas Ridge)

Fog Beams on the Edge of the Woods (Mt. Tam)

Silhouette With Cool Clouds Above Mt. Tam

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Wednesday, August 24, 2022



I haven't been out shooting during the last week, instead working on a long-term project on Pt. Reyes that will be similar to the Mt. Tam book you can see on the sidebar. I figured I could get started creating some basic pages by picking out single images that are worth a page of their own. I mocked up the page above for now, but I'd like to replace the two starfish with nudibranchs eventually, assuming I can snag a couple of new species. 

I biked up to Mt. Tam today to check on the trail cam, only to see that the pool continues to attract very few visitors compared with other years. I think the pool is a bit more shallow this time, and the "beach" is a bit more steep, so it might not be as attractive to wildlife. But even band-tailed pigeons, which were so prevalent in the past, have been no-shows. The coolest animal to show up was a bat, but the trail cam images and video are not worth posting. A fox ambled past the cam and put his mark on it. I did not notice any peculiar smell when I checked up on it this afternoon. On another scatological note, I almost put my hand in a pile of raccoon poop shortly after whacking it on a stick and drawing just enough blood to attract the attention of very persistent little flies. The goldfinches that last week were all around the Rock Spring water tank were gone. The soundscape had returned to the realm of acorn woodpeckers.

It seemed like it was going to be a day of micro-climates, so I brought along a wind gauge and thermometer to put some numbers on my observations. It was 65 degrees in my living room just before I left at 9:15 a.m., and 63 degrees outside, with a mild 2-3 mph breeze. The fog was wet enough to dust my eyeglasses, and to make a pitter-patter sound on my nylon windbreaker as I rolled down the hill toward the Golden Gate Park entrance at 9th and Irving. Half way across the Golden Gate Bridge it was about 59 degrees with 6-10 mph wind. I'd have guessed the wind was stronger than that, so it was nice to get a measurement. I didn't get above the fog until just below Bootjack, and once I was in the sun the temperature quickly rose to 69, then up to 82 by the time I reached Rock Spring, and finally to a high of 96 in the sun. The wind had come up to 10-12 mph by the time I headed home, with gusts to 17 mph. Again, when I hit those gusts head-on, I'd have guessed they were stronger than that.

And just to earn my hodgepodge license, I'm including a couple of off-beat pix of doctoring a cheese pizza with vegetarian toppings, and a recent discovery of a mochi donut shop on Irving Street near Nomad Cyclery where I was having my ebike tuned up, with a new rear brake rotor, brake pads, chain and cassette, and new fat tires (old = 700x30; new = 700x50) which I thought I'd try out for comfort's sake. 

Riding home I passed the float planes near the freeway offramp and remembered when my wife got us a ride in one of them for my 40th birthday -- 24 years ago! Holy cow. I also photographed a clutch of greater yellowlegs from the bike path between Sausalito and the float planes. They were the first I'd seen along there. I'm still waiting for the return of the black-necked stilts that I often saw before I got the FZ-80.

Squirrel Comes In For A Drink

Steller's Jay Comes In For A Bath

Crime Scene On The Log Above The Water Hole

Get Those Numbers

Zucchini, Spinach, Sun-Dried Tomato, Onion, Garlic,
Bell Pepper, and Field Roast Veggie Burger

Cybelle's Cheese Pizza, Doctored

The Mochi Donut Shop

A Mochi Donut (delicious but $3.80!)

Can You Spot The Trail Cam?

Fox Marks His Territory

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Thursday, August 18, 2022

Wild Wednesday


Wild Skies on Wednesday

Scenes of crazy skies filled with clouds spilling sheets of rain were nice, as were the few occasional drops that landed on me, but best of all was hearing the boom of thunder as I stepped into the woods to check my trail camera. Not the kind of weather I would normally expect on a mid-August day, which made it a good day to bike up to Mt. Tam. I was prepared to deal with rain, but each time the skies darkened nearby I hoped I would be able to avoid getting soaked. My luck held, and I never felt more than a few drops.

There was a dense river of fog snaking through the Golden Gate, with storm clouds moving across the sky above it. It was such an unusual scene that I stopped at the visitor look-out on the north side to take it in and snap a photo with the FZ80. The rest of the ride was par for the course, although I stopped along Panoramic Highway to photograph a pair of panther amanitas growing beneath a pine in someone's front yard. I hadn't expected to see mushrooms in August either, but that spot probably gets a lot of fog drip. (Just this morning I found a puffball in my garden at home.)

There were quite a few California quail in the area around Rock Spring, and I was glad to see they'd also appeared on my trail camera (video below). I accidentally spooked them and raised a cacophony of excited quail chirping. Once that died down I noticed a constant high-pitched chirping of countless small birds too high in the trees to see. But on the way to the trail camera I saw them flying down to the Rock Spring water tank to drink from a small leak. After checking on the trail cam I returned to the tank to await their return. It was hot and muggy, and little flies harassed me as I tried to remain as still as possible. Finally, the birds returned to drink despite my presence. They were goldfinches, and there must have been dozens of them.

The Golden Gate Bridge Emerges From The Fog

Panther Amanita Mushrooms Along Panoramic Highway

Quail on the Lookout, With Ripening Acorns

Quail Flushed Into Cover

Goldfinches Drinking At Rock Spring Tank

Goldfinches & Honeybees

A Young Coyote With Big Ears Visits The Trail Camera

Mt. Tam Cam, August 2022

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Sunday, August 14, 2022

Palomarin Beach '22

Nanaimo Dorid (Acanthodoris nanaimoensis)

It's been four years since I last visited Palomarin Beach -- six since I last posted pix on the blog (I made no posts in 2018). The parking area seemed slightly different than I remembered it, and it took a second to find the trailhead. A "You Are Here" map listed only three hikes from there -- to Bass Lake, Wildcat Beach, and Alamere Falls. The map showed no trail going down to the beach. 

I drove back about a quarter-mile to a smaller parking area and found a steep, narrow trail that I suspect is maintained only by locals and other visitors, and certainly not by the National Park Service. As I descended I saw some tracks in the dirt and figured I must be in the right place, and about one second later I realized the tracks had been made by a coyote. As the trail deteriorated, I knew I'd gotten myself into a real-life coyote story. 

I kept going down despite the sketchy trail. The last fifty feet or so was completely gone, with the trail replaced by a narrow chute of rubble. To get down to the beach required lowering myself down the scree, not quite rappelling, via climbing rope and a rope ladder that had been left for the purpose. 

Google Maps still shows the Coast Trail going down to the beach, but folks on alltrails.com started saying the trail was closed as far back as November 2020.

Anyway, I made it down to the beach without incident. No surprise, I was the only person on the beach and had the whole reef to myself. Just as I was leaving, a guy with a surfboard and a woman with a camera tripod appeared out of nowhere. I think they must have walked up from Bolinas, and they continued north a ways before the guy paddled out into fairly poor surf, although he did have the break all to himself.

The reef did not disappoint. In addition to the usual suspects, I found a new-to-me species of sea anemone that I can't identify, and a couple of critters that I have no idea what they are. It was interesting to visit tidepools south of the Golden Gate one day and north of it the next.

Lined Shore Crab Skeleton

Lined Shore Crab Ready to Rumble

Kelp Crab

Red Crab

Hermit Crab

The First Bat Star I've Seen In A While

Cute Little Feller

Ochre Sea Star Strikes a Pose at Mussel Beach

Aggregating Anemones Doing Their Thing

Tidepool Garden

Preparing to See What the New Tide Will Bring

Anemone Indigestion

A Sea Anemone Species I've Never Seen Before

Surf Grass & Friends #1

Surf Grass & Friends #2

Red Feather Sea Weed
(Erythrophyllum delesserioides)

Neighborhood of Sea Sacs

Bladderwrack (Green) and Turkish Washcloth (Reddish Brown)

Fashion Slug

Leopard Dorid

Also Known As San Diego Dorid (Diaulula sandiegensis)

Orange-Peel Dorid (Acanthodoris lutea)

Mystery Meat (Seriously, What Is This Thing?!)

Close Crop of Whatever That Is At The Top

Little Red Mystery Tube-Nuggets

Going Back Up Was As Interesting As Coming Down

Definitely Not A Park Service Trail

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