While on the Pacific Coast in April, I came across this cool-looking plant. This wildflower is native to the coastline of Oregon and California where it grows on beaches, coastal bluffs and dunes.
Seaside Daisy is a low-growing perennial, which forms a cushion of semi-double, lavender-to-pink flowers adorned with yellow centers.
This plant blooms for months from mid-spring until late summer, when its blossoms almost cover its leathery foliage of thick, spoon-shaped, blue-green leaves.
Its Latin name is Erigeron glaucus. The name erigeron is from the Greek eri meaning “early” and geron meaning “old man,” referring to the fact that the flowers bloom in spring, then turn gray like hair.
This fine plant is also known as Seaside Fleabane and Beach Aster.
Third Eye Herp
While at my friend’s house in California in April, I noticed this cool creature on the screen door. At first I thought that it was a Mantisfly, but closer examination showed it to be an insect that I had never encountered before.
Snakeflies are family of predatory insects. They are a relict group and have been considered living fossils, as species from the early Jurassic period (140 million years ago) closely resemble modern-day species.
An adult Snakefly resembles a Lacewing in appearance, but it has a notably elongated thorax (which look like a neck) which, together with the mobile head, gives the group their common name. Snakeflies have transparent wings that are longer than their actual bodies.
Females (like this one) have a large and sturdy ovipositor. This tubular structure is at the end of the insect’s abdomen and is used for depositing eggs, often in a well-hidden location. It is thought that they lay their eggs in the crevices in the bark of trees.
At less than an inch in total length, adult Snakeflies are territorial and carnivorous organisms. They are diurnal and are important predators of aphids and mites.
This was a very cool and unexpected find on my latest visit to the Golden State.
Third Eye Herp
This is a relatively common lizard native to the Pacific Coast of North America. I enjoy seeing it when I visit California.
Their backs are brown with black spots that form numerous bands across the body’s width. They sometimes feature orange, yellow and white markings.
These reptiles live in a variety of habitats. I tend to find them in grassy, brushy, or rocky openings within forested areas. I often find them hidden underneath logs.
The common name “alligator lizard” is a reference to the fact that the back and belly scales of these lizards are reinforced by bone, as they are in alligators.
This creature has small legs and a long, somewhat prehensile tail that can be twice as long as its body. Like many lizards, they can detach their tail deliberately as a defensive tactic; the tail will grow back, although generally not as long as the original.
One interesting characteristic this lizard has is a fold along each of its sides. The folds allows its body to expand to hold food or eggs.
These lizards are thought to be more closely related to snakes than most other species of lizards. Like snakes, they shed their skin in a single intact piece by turning it inside out as they crawl out of it.
The Southern Alligator Lizard eats small arthropods, slugs, lizards, small mammals, and occasionally young birds and eggs.
This a a neat “classic” American reptile that is fun to come across while out herping.
Third Eye Herp
This is a cool a creature that I have observed both from shore and from the water, while kayaking in California. It is native to the California coast. Adult Sea Otters typically weigh between 30 and 99 pounds, making them the heaviest members of the weasel family, but among the smallest marine mammals.
Unlike most marine mammals, the sea otter’s primary form of insulation is an exceptionally thick coat of fur – the densest in the animal kingdom. Although it can walk on land, the sea otter is capable of living exclusively in the ocean.
The Sea Otter is most often seen near the shore, where it forages for marine invertebrates such as sea urchins, various mollusks and crustaceans and some species of fish. It is one of the few mammal species to use tools, utilizing rocks to dislodge prey and to open shells.
In most of its range, it is a keystone species, controlling sea urchin populations which would otherwise inflict extensive damage to kelp forest ecosystem.
Their numbers were once estimated at 150,000–300,000 before Sea Otters were hunted extensively for their fur between 1741 and 1911. The world population fell to 1,000–2,000 individuals living in a fraction of their historic range.
A ban on hunting, Sea Otter conservation efforts, and reintroduction programs into previously populated areas have contributed to their numbers rebounding, and the mammal now occupies about two-thirds of its former range. The recovery of the sea otter is considered an important success in marine conservation.
Third Eye Herp