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 picture — see 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 species — Cangrejo 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.
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 below — characters 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.
Yesterday (6 November 2017), a few people reported a Rock Sandpiper (Calidris ptilocnemis) at the southern end of Bodega Head. It has been observed on the rocks below the outer State Parks parking lot.
I haven't seen it yet, but here's a photo of a Rock Sandpiper from several years ago (on Bodega Head in February 2013).
Rock Sandpipers are rare in the Bodega Bay area. I hope the one that was spotted yesterday stays around for a little while!
We've been busy lately, including some field work during the low tide tonight. I don't have too many recent photos to share, but here's one showing the light rain during our surveys on 5 November 2017:
We were finishing up some surveys tonight (2 November 2017) in the intertidal zone when Eric spotted a small Red Octopus (Octopus rubescens) among the rocks.
The octopus was under water, but shallow enough that I could use my underwater camera to zoom in for a close-up of its eye. Be sure to click on the image above and explore the diversity of colors and patterns and textures. Exploring the eye of an octopus is like visiting another world!
ADDENDUM (3 November 2017): Hmmm...clicking on the photo above didn't enlarge it that much, so here's a zoomed in view of the octopus' eye...
In case you're curious, here's a view of the little octopus:
With its tentacles curled in, this octopus was only ~4 cm (1.5 inches) long.
Well, I was caught up in listening to Game 7 of the World Series tonight. And when the Astros won, I decided to post a sea star picture to help their fans celebrate. Here's an orange Sunflower Star (Pycnopodia helianthoides, in the class Asteroidea) to say — Congratulations, Houston!
This afternoon (29 October 2017), I went for a short walk at Crane Creek Regional Park — the first time I've been there since the fires. Quite a bit of the northern edge of the park was burned. For the record, this was one example of many blackened and charred oak trees.
Laysan Albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) near Cordell Bank on 15 October 2017. For a fun story about a 65-year old Laysan Albatross (named 'Wisdom') from Midway Atoll, click here. And maybe the Laysan dance will inspire you. :)
Here are a few more photos from the pelagic trip to Cordell Bank last Sunday (15 October 2017). If I remember right, we encountered this group of whales ~20 miles off Bodega Head. Three examples of Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), followed by some audio recordings:
If you can't see the audio files below, click on the title of the post above to go directly to the web page. Also, you might need to turn up the volume of your speakers to hear the sounds of the whales. [The third file makes me laugh...it includes a brief commentary by Rick Powers, captain of the New Sea Angler.]
The first big swell of the season rolled through on 20 and 21 October 2017. Wave heights reached almost 18 feet last night. I took a few pictures this morning when the waves were closer to 12 feet. [Click on the images for larger versions.]