Monday, March 31, 2014

Panama Bird List

Following is a list of bird species seen in Panama during the second week of March, 2014 – by Steve Bonta, Jon Quist and myself. We started the week along Pipeline Road near the Panama Canal, worked our way west and up into the area around El Valle, then drove over to Bocas del Toro and finally back to ChitrĂ© to end the week. Magnificent Frigatebird, Sandwich Tern, Laughing Gull, Herring Gull, Neotropic Cormorant, Brown Pelican,
Ruddy Ground Dove, Tropical Kingbird, Turkey Vulture, Black Vulture, Great Tailed Grackle, Yellow-headed Caracara, Rock Pigeon, Spotted Sandpiper, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Plain Xenops, Song Wren, Cattle Egret, Great Egret, Golden-collared Manakin, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Crimson-backed Tanager, Black-chested Jay, Blue Cotinga, Louisiana Waterthrush, rufous-capped Warbler, Scarlet-rumped Tanager, Common Bush Tanager, Savannah Hawk, Crested Caracara, American Kestrel, Great Black Hawk, Anhinga, Wood Stork, Red-breasted Blackbird, Crested Oropendola, Green Ibis, Southern Lapwing (third picture), Northern Jacana, Purple Gallinule, Great Kiskadee, Swallow-tailed Kite, Pale-vented pigeon, Slate-colored Seedeater, Blue-black grassquit, Spectacled Antpitta, Smooth-billed Ani, Amazon Kingfisher, White-tailed Kite, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Tricolored Heron (first picture), Snowy Egret, Keel-billed Toucan, Common Tody Flycatcher, Masked Tityra, Little Blue Heron (second picture), White-shouldered Tanager, Osprey, Montezuma Oropendola, Large-billed Tern, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Prothonotary warbler, Semipalmated Plover, Willet, Whimbrel, White Ibis, Buff-breasted sandpiper, Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Clay-colored Thrush, Red Knot, Black-necked Stilt, Plain-breasted Ground Dove

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

December Birds at Joshua Tree National Park

Last month I took a side trip through Southern California's Joshua Tree National Park. December is an odd time of the year to make such a trip. There are very few plants blooming and much of the wildlife is hunkering down. But I had the time so I took the trip anyway.

I was in for a bit of a surprise when I stopped behind the northeast Visitors Center where there is a desert oasis of sorts. Flitting around in the palms was a bold cactus wren, that didn't seem to be bothered by me at all. 

The ranger in the gift shop suggested that I walk along the path and check out the phainopeplas that were feeding on the mistletoe berries.

The above picture is of the uneaten berries. The picture below is of the digested ones on a wildlife marker. I sort of got the idea that phainopeplas don't like rabbits.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tired November Butterflies

It's now the beginning of November and still the rains have not come to Fresno with any sort of confidence. Our days are very pleasant in the 70's and the nights hardly get into the 40's. This is not unusual. Very often the first rains don't come until around Thanksgiving time, or even later. What this means for many of the late summer and fall insects is that they continue their lives without finding a place to over-winter, or of succumbing to the elements.  They linger and they get worn out by their long lives.

Here is a gray hairstreak (Strymon melinus) that Kathy and I ran into along the path by Cottonwood Park yesterday while we were out enjoying the warm weather. It has lost much of its delicate wing "tail" and many of its cloudy gray scales - still a beautiful butterfly but clearly tired out.

The common buckeye (Junonia coenia) was also out along the narrow stream bank in the patches of flowering mint. I was amazed that such a worn-out creature could still fly.

There is also a catchment basin by the park with a gathering of waterfowl. A snowy egret (Egretta thula) was kind enough to fly close enough for a picture. I was impressed by the striking yellow markings on the face and legs when seen up close.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Bagrada Bug in Fresno

The bagrada bug (Bagrada hilaris) has finally made it to Fresno. Michael Yang announced last week that he found it among Hmong farms in Fresno County. Two days ago, I found it in Fresno proper - on my own mizuna lettuce plants no less.

The large bug is the female and the smaller one (pictured twice) is the male. They are only about the size of a plant bug - maybe a bit bigger - but quite a bit smaller than other stink bugs (of the family Pentatomidae) which the bagrada bug is a member of.

I have a pretty small garden in the middle of suburban Fresno and it must have been a very lucky pair of bugs that found my lettuce plants. That, or maybe mizuna lettuce is just irresistible to the critters. You have to admit, they're pretty colorful.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Oso Flaco Lake

Earlier this month while traveling in San Luis Obispo County (along coastal California) I noticed an interesting state park with ample coastal dune habitat. I decided to stop and have a look.

I'm glad I did, it was a beautiful day (as most summer days are along the coast) and the lake was alive with waterfowl. A nice boardwalk bridge extends from the main path over the lake and a well-maintained trail continues on to the beach through rich coastal dune habitat.

I came across this Boisduval's blue (Icaricia icarioides) feeding on California aster (Lessingia filaginifolia) and a little further along I was able to catch a picture of a California thrasher

With a beautiful yellow ice-plant (the marigold ice-plant, Conicosia pugioniformis) in bloom nearby.

 On the way back I caught a young phalarope swimming in the lake.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Alpine Butterflies near Disappointment Lake

Earlier this month a handful of us from Fresno took a 35 mile hike just east of Courtright Reservoir (in Fresno County) in the Sierra Nevada of California. Along the way we saw several beautiful butterflies – some of which I was lucky enough to get pictures of.

These first two pictures are at Post Coral Creek where this lovely greenish blue (Plebejus saepiolus) was enjoying the sun and white daisy.

Further up the trail toward Disappointment Lake (the name of which is a clear misnomer) I found one of the butterflies in the arctic blue complex (Agriades franklinii) feeding on Western bistort (Polygonum bistortoides).

And then even further up the trail (actually on boulders where there was no trail) just below the LeConte Divide we spotted a handful of checkerspots (in the Edith’s checkerspot complex – Occidryas editha). This is an amzing place for butterflies – at 11,000 feet on a windswept ridge where trees don’t even grow. What a beautiful place.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Butterflies on Desert Catalpa

Last month, Jon and I took a detour on a dirt road several miles SE of Baker, California. It lead to a dry wash filled with desert catalpa (Chilopsis linearis) in full bloom. 

We found sphecid wasps (one just visible in the upper right corner in the picture above), a few species of bees and several butterflies all competing with each other in a feeding frenzy. The sleepy oranges (Eurema nicippe) disregarded any sense of caution and plunged much of their bodies inside to get at the nectar (making it easy to snap pictures). 

The lovely great purple hairstreak (Atlides halesus) with metallic blue and red scales was a bit more wary.