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Friday, November 17, 2017

The violinist of the Pacific

When I heard we would be at a meeting near Newport Bay, I wondered if we'd have a chance at seeing a fiddler crab.  There's only one species of fiddler crab in California, and I vaguely remembered that its northern range limit is near Newport Bay.  (They are now found as far north as Santa Barbara.)

We took a drive along the shore of Upper Newport Bay and stopped to check the upper edges of the marsh.  It didn't take long to spot them!  Meet the Crenulated Fiddler Crab (Leptuca crenulata):

Here's another male with its burrow nearby:

And a female, with two smaller claws (instead of one larger and one smaller claw):

Later, when reviewing photos, I also spotted a few juvenile fiddler crabs.  Can you find the juveniles in the picture below?  (Hint: They're near their small burrows.)


There are two juveniles in the picturesee yellow arrows below:

P.S.  When I was reviewing the common name of this species, I encountered several versions — e.g., Mexican Fiddler Crab, California Fiddler Crab, Crenulated Fiddler Crab.  Because the geographic range spans both (Southern) California and Mexico, it was hard for me to justify using either of those names.  It's always helpful when the common name is linked to something in the scientific name, so I used Crenulated Fiddler Crab in this post.  "Crenulated" means having an irregular, e.g., notched or scalloped, outline.  

I also encountered an alternative Spanish name for this speciesCangrejo violinista del Pacifico.  I think that translates into "Violinist crab of the Pacific."  The "violinist" portion refers to the movement of the male's large claw during courtship.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Waving hello from SoCal

We're at a meeting in Southern California, but before the meeting started we took a quick walk on Newport Beach.  Here are a few quick wave shots taken on 16 November 2017.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Orange ears

Okay, maybe we just haven't lived in Cotati long enough, but this morning was the first time we've seen a squirrel in our yard.  I managed to take a few quick photos to document it before we left for work.

Eric looked out the window early this morning to see an Eastern Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger) walking along the fence and climbing up a nearby tree. 

At first, the orange coloration below made us think about Douglas' Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii), but this squirrel was larger.  And later when reviewing the identification, I noticed the orange ears, bushy tail, and lack of black line between the gray on the back and the orange belowcharacters which led to Eastern Fox Squirrel.

Since I'm relatively new to California, I don't know the entire story of how Eastern Fox Squirrels made it to the West Coast.  I hear they were introduced to the Los Angeles area in the early 1900s, and possibly to San Francisco in the late 1800s.  

P.S.  If you're interested in comparing squirrel species, review the post from 4 December 2012 to see some photos of a Douglas' Squirrel in Sebastopol.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Rain on the way

Approaching rain clouds, from Salmon Creek Beach, 13 November 2017

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Rocky, Part 2

Lots of chores today, so here are two more images of the Rock Sandpiper on Bodega Head during the winter of 2012-2013.  That year, the Rock Sandpiper stayed around until early March.

A comparison with Surfbirds:

(The Rock Sandpiper is on the right.) 

Saturday, November 11, 2017


Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) focused on possible prey below.  Bodega Head, 7 November 2017.

Friday, November 10, 2017

What color is your landscape?

Perhaps it changes with the moment, or the day, or the season, or the year.  

Today the ocean off Bodega Head was silver and gray: