|Chorro Creek bog thistle on a reserve on the Calpoly-SLO campus.|
We did an April bioblitz on a coastal prairie in rural San Mateo County. From sunrise to sunset, thirty biologists combed a 900-acre grassy ranch with ponds, streams, and brush patches. On that one property on one day, we recorded 1290 observations on iNaturalist consisting of 326 plant and animal species. We already knew that some of the ponds supported California red-legged frogs, a threatened species, and I was fairly certain I had spotted the rare artist's popcornflower on the property in previous years, but the bioblitz gave us a better idea of where they occur.
Artist's popcornflower is quite a name. The easterly team reported seeing its tiny white flowers filling swales and I was a bit jealous I didn't get to see the large sweeps of it this wet spring. However, the expert botanists I sent to that side of the property confirmed the tentative identification I had made from scrawny plants in the previous drought years. My west-side team had a view of ocean cliffs and we saw interesting coastal residents too.
|Just a few inches high, artist's popcornflower can fill seasonally wet low spots of the coastal prairies.|
|Salmonberry flower and fruit shining in the shady riparian forest.|
|An old jawbone of a cow rests next to the grassy tunnels of meadow voles.|
It's funny to imagine these small nearly tail-less rodents hopping onto the bony platform for a poop break.
|Slender phlox - flowers are less than half a centimeter across.|
|A male three-striped longhorn moth with antennae nearly three times longer than its wing length.|
|What I saw in the Midpen parking lot at the end of the day.|
Looks like lots of the staff (and taxidermy) were at events on Earth Day.
|Lesser Indian paintbrush - waiting for pollinators.|
|Some plants don't seem to mind the poor soils of serpentine outcrops such as this sneezeweed.|
|Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve - just look.|
|Early spring - what a biologist is supposed to look like.|
|The wingspan of this ceanothus silk moth was nearly as wide as my spread hand.|
|Large carpenter ant, 16mm long. Later when looking at the photos, I realized there were eggs in the container,|
but I had already rinsed it out.
|Fixing the water trough with crutches since I couldn't slip under the barbwire fence like I usually do.|
Postscript: I'm healing and walking again and we spotted a tiny fox pup running around on the porch a few nights ago. It's summer. Many thanks to the angels who brought me groceries and helped while I couldn't drive. I really hope CNPS offers that SLO plant class again next year. And I'll watch out for curbs.
|A thistle bog in San Luis Obispo County. More adventures to come.|
Artist's popcornflower, Plagiobothrys chorisanus
Stinging nettle, Urtica dioica
Poison oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
Salmonberry, Rubus spectabilis
Slender phlox, Microsteris gracilis
Delicate buttercup, Ranunculus hebecarpus
Chorro Creek bog thistle, Cirsium fontinale var. obispoense
Mount Hamilton thistle, Cirsium fontinale var. campylon
Lesser Indian paintbrush, Castilleja minor
Sneezeweed, Helenium bigelovii
California buckeye, Aesculus californica
Purple starthistle, Centaurea calcitrapa
California red-legged frog, Rana draytonii
San Francisco dusky-footed woodrat, Neotoma fuscipes annectens
California meadow vole, Microtus californicus
American badger, Taxidea taxus
Three-striped longhorn moth, Adela trigrapha
Ash-throated flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens
House finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
Ornate tiger moth, Grammia ornata
Ceanothus silk moth, Hyalophora euryalus
Carpenter ant, Family Formicidae
Striped skunk, Mephitis mephitis
Common gray fox, Urocyon cinereoargenteus
David J. Keil, editor, Wildflowers of San Luis Obispo, California, California Native Plant Society.