Friday, December 11, 2015

Paramount Ranch Ramblings

Lark sparrow, Chondestes grammacus.
I had a quick chance to look over Paramount Ranch today. The idea was to check for a certain nocturnal snake that had been, for at least a while, quite reliable at a certain area of the site. Although I did not find it I was able to scavenge some other interesting species.

The real highlight though must have been seeing an incredibly confiding canyon wren. I first heard this bird calling under the wooden bridge adjacent to the old town, where I eventually saw it foraging in the rocky ditch. At one point it entered a ground squirrel burrow. I quickly moved over and with the camera ready, the bird soon emerged. What followed was the most memorable experience I've ever had of this bird. Incredible.

Canyon wren, Catherpes mexicanus.
Canyon wren, Catherpes mexicanus.

With a few good photos I backed away slowly. At first it was confiding but after a while I think it was starting to get a bit agitated. As a photographer the last thing you want to do is disturb the subject. It is not good practice.

I turned up a few rocks here and there and found a decent number of tule beetles, as well as something less expected, a female western brush cricket. Along the Coyote Canyon trail I found what looks to be Acarospora badiofusca, a reasonably common lichen that I have not had much confidence in claiming before. On a similar note I recorded my first confident sighting of poplar sunburst lichen, Xanthomendoza hasseana, as well, growing on a Siberian elm. The tree has possibly dubious origins in that it may be planted directly by human hands, but it seemed reasonable to me.

Tule beetle, Tanystoma maculicolle.
Western brush cricket, Hoplosphyrum boreale.
The lichen Acarospora badiofusca.
Poplar sunburst lichen, Xanthomendoza hasseana, growing on Siberian elm,
Ulmus pumila.

A small foray into shady riparian turned up several whitefly pupae on coffeeberry plants. I've been informed by experts that these are a match for Aleuroparadoxus iridescens, a species that is probably not too common but one that has until now never been photographed alive. I cannot find a description of what the adults look like, but knowing whiteflies, they are probably little white insects. Something about the name makes me wish there were dark grey or even black whiteflies around. That could be a very elegant look! Maybe somewhere in the tropics such a creature exists...

Aleuroparadoxus iridescens, on coffeeberry, Frangula californica.

On a less related note, has anyone ever seen these bright red leaves form on stork's bill (Erodium spp.) before? Every now and then I find a population showing it during late winter or early spring.

Common stork's-bill, or dark-stemmed filaree if you are
American, Erodium cicutarium.

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