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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Tucked in

A couple of weeks ago, I was at a meeting at the Hastings Natural History Reservation in Carmel Valley.  While walking by one of the buildings, I heard some high-pitched sounds coming from behind the shutters.

The shutters were attached to the building, so there was only a very narrow gap behind them.  I had to flatten my face against the wall to peak behind the shutter.  But once I got into the right position, I had a pretty nice view of the animals that were making the sounds:


I was excited to see some up close.

I'm not sure which species of bat this is, but if you have any thoughts about the identification, I'd love to learn more.

Here's a slightly closer view (check out the size of the ears!):

Maybe you'll see some bats tonight during your Halloween adventures?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Monday, October 29, 2018

Around the corner

Earlier this month, Eric looked out the window to see an enormous spider web high in a maple tree in our backyard: 

I went out to take a closer look.  

There were wonderful "waves" in the lower part of the web:

And a dazzling, beaded pattern in the center:

 One more radiating perspective:

Halloween is around the corner...

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Let's go!

Okay, I can't help it, I have to help the home team celebrate.  Here's a photo for the 2018 World Series Championsthe Boston Red Sox!  

A red octopus with eight arms for a championship won on 28 October 2018. The Red Sox had 108 wins in the regular season.  And note that retired Red Sox great Carl Yastrzemski (#8) threw out the first pitch in Boston to start the 2018 series.

Yeah, Boston!  Let's go!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Basking in the October sun

The colors in the wings of this Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) seem like a good match for fall.  Photographed on 27 October 2018.

Friday, October 26, 2018


Pied-billed Grebes (Podilymbus podiceps), resting among floating algae at the north end of Bodega Harbor, 26 October 2018.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The night after

The night after the Hunter's Moon (photographed on 25 October 2018).

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Emerging from the sand

Pink Sand Verbena (Abronia umbellata), 24 October 2018

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Named after William Elford Leach

Although not a great photo, this was the first time I've seen a Leach's Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) on an offshore boat trip to Cordell Bank, so it seemed worthwhile to include a photo for the record. (Photo taken on 14 October 2018.)

For a look at the more frequently encountered storm-petrel species in this area, you can review the posts called "A stormy cast of characters"on 4 September 2013 and "Ocean runners" on 14 August 2016.

P.S.  William Elford Leach was an English zoologist active in the early 19th century.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Over smooth seas

Buller's Shearwater (Ardenna bulleri), offshore between Bodega Canyon/Cordell Bank and Bodega Head, on 14 October 2018.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Three different bills

A few alcids from the offshore boat trip to Bodega Canyon and Cordell Bank on 14 October 2018.  [The Alcidae family includes small seabirds such as auklets, guillemots, murres, murrelets, and puffins.] 

Cassin's Auklet (Ptychoramphus aleuticus)

Rhinoceros Auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata)

Tufted Puffin (Fratercula cirrhata)

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Blue views

On Sunday, I mentioned that we had great views of a few groups of Blue Whales (Balaenoptera musculus) during the boat trip to Bodega Canyon and Cordell Bank on 14 October 2018.  They're impressive animals, so I can't help but show a few more images.  [You can click on the pictures for larger versions.]

With spout:

Two individuals close together:



With diatoms (the bronze patches) on its skin:


One Blue Whale was fairly close to Bodega Head.  I'm not sure of the distance, but it might have only been 1-2 miles from the coast:

Even though they aren't often visible from land, I love knowing that Blue Whales are spending time offshore of Bodega Head.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Three in a row

Three Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola) on an offshore trip to Cordell Bank on 14 October 2018.

These individuals are on the smaller side.  For a few more photos of larger Ocean Sunfish, check out the post from 24 August 2014.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Riding the bow wave

I'm at a work-related meeting, so I haven't had much time today, but here's a Dall's Porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli) photo from the offshore boat trip on 14 October 2018:

For a little more information about Dall's Porpoises, review the post called "Splish..." on 12 September 2017.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Up at the surface

A few Northern Fur Seal (Callorhinus ursinus) photos from the pelagic trip to Bodega Canyon and Cordell Bank on 14 October 2018.

Note the large eyes; pale whiskers; conspicuous ear pinnae (external part of the ear); and long flippers.

P.S.  I shared some information about Northern Fur Seals in a couple of earlier posts: "Jughandling" on 29 August 2014 and "The little bear with the beautiful nose" on 29 March 2016.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Back from the blue

I was out at sea today (14 October 2018), so I'm starting to fade.  But here's the back and dorsal fin of a Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus).  More to come this week...stay tuned!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Saturday nightjar

Well, time slipped away from me today, so I'll have wait to share a more detailed story about the Common Poorwill (Phalaenoptilus nuttallii) that I showed in last night's post.  But here's another photo of the same bird (below).  Check out the beautiful details of the feathers!  [Click on the image for a larger version.]

And yes, this bird is perched on the roof of a car (!).  The short story is that it was accidentally flushed from a daytime roost site, and ended up sitting on this car in the Bodega Marine Laboratory parking lot for a little while. If you're interested, I shared some information about poorwills back in 2014 see the 6 November 2014 post called "the sleeping one."

Friday, October 12, 2018

Friday night special

I'll reveal more tomorrow night, but for now...enjoy!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The usual view

A brief glimpse of a Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata) before it disappeared behind the rushes along the shoreline.  Note the cryptically colored plumage, allowing them to blend in with wetland vegetation.

This description from The Birds of North America account is quite accurate "the usual view of a Wilson's Snipe is as it flushes from grass or sedges, escaping in rapid, zigzag flight while uttering a rasping scaipe."

On Bodega Head, Wilson's Snipes are relatively rare migrants or winter residents.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Rising tide

Harbor Seals (Phoca vitulina) in Bodega Harbor on 7 October 2018.  

The seals were hauled out on the edge of the tidal flats (near the boat channel).  Their heads and tails/hind flippers are arched up out of the water, but the tide has come in and covered their mid-sections (so their bellies are still resting on the bottom).

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

In the bay

These are somewhat distant shots, but I haven't shown photos of these species before.  Both were taken in Bodega Bay (in the water off Pinnacle Gulch) on 7 October 2018. [You can click on the images for slightly larger versions.]

Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus)

Clark's Grebe (Aechmophorus clarkii) 

Monday, October 8, 2018

Fall colors

The large-scale movement of California Tortoiseshells (Nymphalis californica) that I mentioned in last night's post continued this morning.  The butterflies seemed to be enjoying the morning sun on the south-facing walls of the Bodega Marine Laboratory.

Many of them were also probing the surface of the building with their proboscises.  I wondered what they might be interested in — could there be salt on the outside of the building?  Or were they just searching for moisture or nutrients?

They're such beautiful butterflies, and I just love the fall colors in their wings.  I took a few photos for the record:

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Why did the tortoiseshell cross the road?

Late this afternoon, I was driving south along Highway 1 from Bodega Bay towards Valley Ford, when I noticed a fairly steady stream of butterflies crossing the road.  I thought they might be tortoiseshells, but I wasn't certain without a better view.  So I pulled over in Valley Ford to take a closer look.

The number of butterflies was impressive!  I counted more than 50 individuals in ~10-15 minutes.

They were California Tortoiseshells (Nymphalis californica), and here are two photos for the record.  Both were taken on the outer wall of what is now the Northern Light Surf Shop in Valley Ford.

Around this time last year, there was also a large movement of California Tortoiseshells.  See the post called "And the answer is..." on 26 September 2017.

Friday, October 5, 2018

A big splash

Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) have been quite active off Bodega Head during the last couple of days.  Although somewhat distant near the horizon when viewed from shore — they've been breaching frequently, creating enormous splashes when they hit the surface.  If you're at the coast this weekend, scan the horizon for breaching Humpbacks.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Loping along

I can't help posting one more River Otter photo.  After they finished feeding in the swash zone, this family of three (mom on the right) loped along the shore for a bit before leaving the beach.  It's a nice view of otters in motionand check out those broad feet!  [This photo was taken with a large zoom lens and then heavily cropped, so I was much farther away than it looks.]

I hope this helps cheer up your day! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Heads in the sand

Some interesting observations of River Otters (Lontra canadensis) this morning (3 October 2018).  This group of three otters was spending some time in the swash zone on a sandy beach:

From their postures, it appeared they might be feeding.  Note the young otter on the far leftthe nose-up position is one that you often see when otters are eating something.  And check out the mother otter on the far right with her head curved downward.  She appears to be holding something and perhaps chewing on it or manipulating a prey item in some way.

I started to wonder if they might be eating Mole Crabs (Emerita analoga).  So I took a few more pictures.  Watch the young otter in the middle of the photo — you can see it "bulldozing" its head through the sand, perhaps in pursuit of a crab:

And here's one more photo, with all three otters lined up.  It looks like the younger otter in the foreground might be using its paw to dig at something in the sand:

I've read about Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris) eating Mole Crabs, but I haven't seen reference to River Otters doing so.  Perhaps it's an opportunistic behavior?

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

With the passing rains

This morning I was interested to see that we received almost 2 inches of rain last night.  Some of the local birds took advantage of the puddles.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida) among them:

Likely the same bird in a Coyote Brush shrub (Baccharis pilularis):

Not too far away, a Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum) was finding something to eat on the pavement:

And here's a view of the same bird on a nearby Bush Lupine (Lupinus arboreus):

Nice views during a brief walk through the parking lot!