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Monday, May 30, 2016

Sleeping in the sun

Juvenile Northern Elephant Seal (Mirounga angustirostris), 30 May 2016

Sunday, May 29, 2016


After chores today, I went for a short walk around Cotati.  It was nice visiting with some of our neighbors (see below):

Western Tiger Swallowtails (Papilio rufutus) perhaps a male following a female?

An accipiter (Cooper's Hawk?) calling and landing in a tall pine.

A Brown Creeper (Certhia americana) bringing food into a nest!  (The nest is underneath the peeling eucalyptus bark.)

Saturday, May 28, 2016


I went out this morning to try to photograph wasps, but I was having a hard time.  Then I noticed these wonderful bees:

The bees quickly entered burrows, so they were difficult to photograph.  Eventually I found one digging, and caught a glimpse of its beautiful green eyes:

And then I spotted a female outside of a burrow:

And a male perched on a flower stem (below).  Note his bright yellow face (it made the male easy to follow even when it was flying):

I'm pretty sure this is Anthophora californica.  It's the first time I've photographed this bee.  [You might remember that I showed a different species of Anthophora in 2013 see the post called "Turrets and Tongues".]

Eventually, I also managed to photograph the wasp.  I need to ask for some help with the identification, but I think it might be a "cutworm wasp," perhaps Podalonia (argentifrons?)?  Impressively, the wasp was carrying a large caterpillar (perhaps a cutworm!):

And here's one more bonus picture.  I'm not sure about the identity of this pretty little bee, but I'm wondering if it's a species of Andrena?  This bee was so small and so fast, and the pollen on its legs was so dense and so bright, it looked as if a clump of pollen was flying among the vegetation!  UPDATE (30 May 2016): Robbin Thorp has confirmed this as Lasioglossum sp. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

A "getaway"?

Many of you know that Eric and I have been monitoring sea stars.  One of the things we're interested in is what they eat. 

Ochre Sea Stars (Pisaster ochraceus) often assume a hunched appearance when they're feeding, holding their prey below their bodies.  

In the photo above, at first I thought this sea star might be interested in the Lined Chiton (Tonicella lineata) attached to the rock below the sea star's arm on the upper left. (To find the chiton, look for the pink and white stripes.)

But then I noticed something darker directly underneath the sea star, and wondered if the sea star was eating something elseA mussel?  A limpet?  I couldn't tell for sure, but this image also made me wonder if the chiton could sense the sea star nearby and whether it would try to make a "getaway" while the sea star was preoccupied?

Only the sea star and the chiton know the outcome.

P.S.  If you're curious about the chiton, I posted a picture of a Lined Chiton on 9 November 2012, and a related Loki's Chiton on 17 May 2013.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Foggy morning

Outer coast of Bodega Head, 26 May 2016

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bathing in the shallows

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) bathing in the shallows along the shoreline of Bodega Harbor.  Photographed 25 May 2016.

Check out the hook on the upper mandible!  [You can click on the image for a slightly larger version.]

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Swirls on the rocks

Do you have any guesses about the identity of these white swirls?  This photograph is from the rocky intertidal zone on Bodega Head.  The mystery mass was attached to the rock.

After spotting these white swirls, I looked around and found the animal responsible for creating them:

The mystery object above is an egg mass laid by a Shag-Rug Nudibranch (Aeolidia papillosa).  There are three nudibranchs (sea slugs) in the photograph (two on the left and one on the right). 

With their tentacle-like cerata, Shag-Rug Nudibranchs can look very similar to their sea anemone prey.  Here's a different individual photographed in Mendocino County in 2008: