Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Friday, March 25, 2011

IBCM V - Irvine Ranch

Day 2 of the California IBCM workshop included a visit to the Irvine Ranch preserve. It's a huge parcel- over 50,000 acres of coastal sage scrub, chaparral, oak savanna and riparian habitats. As someone who has done land management for many years at Bluff Spring Fen, I was very impressed at the stewardship of a site roughly 500 times the size of the Fen. Although there no endangered butterfly species currently occupy the site, it does represent a spot with the potential for restoration of on or more species.

California Ringlet (Coenonympha tullia california)

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

Sara Orangetip (anthocharis sara)

Silvery Blue (Glaucopsyche lygdamus)

Although we did not see endangered butterflies on this site, the weather was near-perfect, sunny and in the 70s. We saw lots of other butterfly species, and I even managed to photograph a few. The ringlet, orangetip, and blue are all species that I associate with springtime in coastal southern California. I wish I had been able to get a better shot of the orangetip. That species is very uncooperative as a photo subject.

The U-shaped structure is the entrance to a trapdoor spider burrow
We tried bating with a tiny katydid to entice the spider to show, but had no luck

Jerusalem Cricket (Stenopelmatus sp.)

Hide Beetle (Family Trogidae)

We saw a bunch of other arthropods, as well. I wish that we had been able to entice the trapdoor spider to pop out of it's burrow. I suspect that there were just too many of us, and it could sense the vibrations that we were producing as we milled about the area. At one point, I saw what I thought was an ironclad beetle (Family Zopheridae). When I posed it on my hand for a photo, someone pointed out that it was actually a hide beetle (Family Trogidae). I wish I had known that before I put it on my hand- the Trogidae feed on carrion. I wonder where it had been before I grabbed it.

The entire hike was about 4 miles. I spent that part of the day in warm sunshine surrounded by beautiful scenery and valued colleagues. What more can one ask for in a day's work?

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

IBCM V - Palos Verdes Blue

I'm in southern California attending the fifth installment of the Imperiled Butterfly Conservation and Management workshop. I'm having a great time, thought the weather has been touch and go. Yesterday we began by touring the sitr in Long Beach where the Palos Verdes Blue was re-discovered back in 1994 after having been thought extinct for 11 years.

Discussing the Palos Verde Blue in the Rain

The day began inauspiciously with rain, hard enough that I was briefly reminded of the underwater bioblitz in Indiana from a couple of years ago. Our hosts were gracious in the cold rain. That's Ken with the clipboard and Travis Longicore at the far right. Travis is an ecologist whose work I have admiredfor a while. I was pleasantly surprised when he approached me as we walked to one of the field sites and asked if I was Doug, adding that he was a fan of my blog. I was very complimented, and decided that it was high time to begin posting again. Hi Travis!

Palos Verdes Blue Release Site

After lunch the weather began improving and the decision was made to release a couple dozen adult blues that had been reared in the laboratory. Things (including the workshop participants) were still a bit soggy, but we had a successful field release. I managed to get some decent photos.

Palos Verdes Blue (Glaucophyche lygdamus palosverdesensis)

Underside View

We had lunch and some lectures at Friendship Park, another nearby butterfly release site. After lunch, we took a walk to the top of a hill in the park. The view to the east shows just how urbanized the immediate vicinity of this butterfly's habitat has become. Is it any wonder that this is now an endangered species? As we crested the hill, a lovely vista of the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands came into view. It was a lovely opening day for the conference, and a good reminder of the importance of dry socks.

Urban Scene Looking East from Friendship Park

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