If you're a birder, you'll know what a life list is. It's basically a list of all the bird species one has observed and positively ID'd in one's lifetime. This blog is a record of my "critter" life list (mostly of birds), including photos I've taken over the years, some of the actual lifer if I was lucky enough to get the shot. Don't expect National Geographic quality stuff here, just the work of an amateur photog who loves to trudge out into nature.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Lesser Goldfinch (Carduelis psaltria)

4/3/17 Day use area off CA 190 between Stovepipe Wells and Emigrant,
Death Valley National Park, Inyo County, CA

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Lesser Goldfinch

SPECIES: Carduelis psaltria

FAMILY: Fringillidae (Finches)

LIFE LIST DATE4/3/2017

LOCATION: Day use area off CA 190 between Stovepipe Wells and Emigrant, Death Valley National Park, Inyo County, CA

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Streptopelia decaocto (Eurasian Collared Dove)

 4/2/17 on Tamarisk tree at campsite #44, Furnace Creek Campground, 
Death Valley National Park, Inyo County, CA

 4/2/17 on Tamarisk tree at campsite #44, Furnace Creek Campground, 
Death Valley National Park, Inyo County, CA 

4/2/17 on Tamarisk tree at campsite #44, Furnace Creek Campground, 
Death Valley National Park, Inyo County, CA

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Eurasian Collared Dove 

SPECIESStreptopelia decaocto

FAMILY: Columbidae (Pigeons & Doves)

LIFE LIST DATE4/2/2017

LOCATION: On Tamarisk tree at campsite #44, Furnace Creek Campground, Death Valley National Park, Inyo County, CA

Allaboutbirds.orgWith a flash of white tail feathers and a flurry of dark-tipped wings, the Eurasian Collared-Dove settles onto phone wires and fence posts to give its rhythmic three-parted coo. This chunky relative of the Mourning Dove gets its name from the black half-collar at the nape of the neck. A few Eurasian Collared-Doves were introduced to the Bahamas in the 1970s. They made their way to Florida by the 1980s and then rapidly colonized most of North America.

Kaufman Focus Guides-Birds of North America: Ringed Turtle Dove (Streptopelia risoria) similar but paler, especially on undertail coverts (white, not gray) and wingtips. Voice differs. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

California Common Scorpion (Paruroctonus silvestrii)

9/30/06 We actually found this critter, at least Gil did, when he came out of the shower and starting screaming like a girl - sorry, Gil! We captured it using a Ziploc container and released it in the coastal chaparral on our property.
La Cresta, Murrieta, SW Riverside County, CA

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: California Common Scorpion

SPECIESParuroctonus silvestrii

FAMILY: Vaejovidae

RANGE: SW Canada, U.S., Mexico

LIFE LIST DATE9/30/2006

LOCATION: In coastal chaparral on our property, La Cresta, Murrieta, SW Riverside County, CA

Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus)

7/5/16 Outside Cabin #12 at Convict Lake, Eastern Sierra, Mono County, CA

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Mule Deer

SPECIES: Odocoileus hemionus

FAMILY: Cervidae (Deer Family)

RANGE: Diverse habitats throughout Western North America

LIFE LIST DATE7/5/2016

LOCATION: Outside Cabin #12 at Convict Lake Resort, Convict Lake, Eastern Sierra, Mono County, CA

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

 

11/13/16 On the Lavender Butterly Bush (Buddleia davidii) off of our front portico.

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Monarch

SPECIES: Danaus plexippus

FAMILY: Nympalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)

SUB FAMILY: Danaiinae (Milkweed Butterflies)

RANGE: Open habitats from Southern Canada southwards

LIFE LIST DATE11/13/16

LOCATION: On the Lavender Butterfly Bush off of our front portico, La Cresta, Murrieta, SW Riverside County, CA

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Southern Desert Cottontail Rabbit (Sylvilagus audubonii arizonae)


 9/23/16 Campsite #82, Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park, San Bernardino County, CA

9/23/16

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Southern Desert Cottontail

SPECIES: Sylvilagus audubonii arizonae

FAMILY: Leporidae (Rabbits & Hares)

RANGE: Mojave, Colorado and Sonoran Deserts (S. California, S. Nevada, SW Utah, W. Arizona)

LIFE LIST DATE9/23/2016

LOCATION: Late afternoon near Campsite #82, Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park, San Bernardino County, CA

Saturday, October 29, 2016

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

Another Lady that regularly visits our property is the American Lady (the other is Painted Lady Vanessa cardui). The easiest way for me to distinguish the two is by the pattern on their hindwings: American Ladies have two large eyespots on the hindwing below, while the Painted Ladies have a submarginal row of four small eyespots.


8/22/10 On a butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) off of our front portico, La Cresta, Murrieta, SW Riverside County, CA

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: American Lady

SPECIES: Vanessa virginiensis

FAMILY: Nymphalidae (Brush-Footed Butterflies)

RANGE: Open habitats across North America

LIFE LIST DATE8/22/2010

LOCATION: On the Lavender Butterfly Bush off of our front portico, La Cresta, Murrieta, SW Riverside County, CA

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

Painted Ladies are common throughout the West and they, along with American Ladies (Vanessa virginiensis) are regular visitors to our garden, especially to the Lavender Butterfly bush off of our front portico. In some years, especially after wet winters, there are massive migrations of these butterflies through the California deserts. In spring of 2005, millions of painted ladies came through Southern California, forcing motorists to pull off to the side of the road to clean their cars of all the splatted ladies that met their unfortunate demise on the windshields. We drove through Barstow in April of that year and had to exit the freeway after our windshield was almost completely obscured by butterfly matter. The line to get into the nearest gas station was so long with similarly bespattered cars that it took us almost 30 minutes before we were able to reach one of their complimentary buckets of windshield wiper cleaner and a squeegee. If they were charging for this stuff, they would have made a fortune that crazy spring. 


9/22/13 On the Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii) off of our front portico. 


10/29/16 Same butterfly bush, different Painted Lady, 3 years later.

NOTE: Painted Ladies have four submarginal small eyespots on the below hindwing, 
while American Ladies have two large eyespots.

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Painted Lady

SPECIES: Vanessa cardui

FAMILY: Nymphalidae (Brush-Footed Butterflies)

RANGE: Most habitats in the U.S., Canada & Mexico.

LIFE LIST DATE9/22/2013

LOCATION: On the Lavender Butterfly Bush off of our front portico, La Cresta, Murrieta, SW Riverside County, CA

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Stink Beetle/Darkling Pinacate Beetle (Eleodes Species)

Stink Beetles (or stinkbugs, as I like to call them) are abundant here on our property. The first time I saw one was probably circa 2007 - they're unmistakable because of their shiny black bodies and penchant to stand up on their front legs and stick their hiny up at you when disturbed, potentially emitting a weak stinky odor in the process. The photos here are of a stink beetle meandering through our campsite at Jumbo Rocks on our recent trip to Joshua Tree National Park.

 9/24/16 Campsite #82, Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park, 
San Bernardino County, CA

9/24/16

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Stink Beetle, Darkling Beetle

SPECIESEleodes species

FAMILY: Tenebrionidae (Darkling Beetles)

LIFE LIST DATE: Circa 2007 

LOCATION: La Cresta, Murrieta, SW Riverside County, CA. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

California Myotis Bat (Myotis californicus)

This tiny and actually very cute (as far as bats go) native vesper bat flew into our master bedroom through the open sliding doors of the balcony at around 12:45am. I was brushing my teeth just before turning in and saw this thing fluttering around and thought it was a giant moth until it landed on the curtains. OMG! I scrambled downstairs to get the camera and our iPhones and Gil and I started snapping away but, since it was pretty dark, most of the shots didn't turn out very well. Shortly thereafter, using a bucket and a piece of cardboard, I gently coaxed it off of the curtains into the bucket and released it back to the outdoors. Of course, over the next few days, Gil kept asking me in a rather smirky fashion if I had any unusual aversion to water. Yeah, right, Gil - I know our pooches are vaccinated for rabies, but I'm not. Rabies notwithstanding, it was an awesome experience!

 8/22/16 



LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: California Myotis Bat

SPECIESMyotis californicus

FAMILY: Vespertilionidae (Vesper Bats)

LIFE LIST DATE8/22/2016

LOCATION: In our master bedroom, La Cresta, Murrieta, SW Riverside County, CA

Snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris diffinis)

This is one cool moth! First time I saw it hovering around the butterfly bush I did a double take, because it was just so weird, but in a cool & beautiful way. Hawk/Sphinx moth? I didn't think they would be seen out and about at noon on a hot summer day. Besides, this guy had clear wings and looked like a cross between a bumble bee and hummingbird. What's up with that?! Eventually, with the help of a fellow blogger, I narrowed down the ID to a Snowberry Clearwing moth (Hemaris diffinis). Turns out the Clearwing is a day-flying Sphinx moth. The distribution of this species seem to be mostly west of the Continental Divide, but there are populations in California which, I believe have now been separated into their own species Hemaris thetis. I'm no expert, so if someone knows better, please let me know!


 5/22/16 Nectaring on a butterfly bush near our front portico

5/22/16

8/13/10 Butterfly bush near our front portico

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Snowberry Clearwing

SPECIESHemaris diffinis

FAMILY: Sphingidae (Sphinx Moths)

LIFE LIST DATE8/13/2010

LOCATION: In my garden, La Cresta, Murrieta, SW Riverside County, CA

October Thorn Moth (Tetracis jubararia)


7/12/14 

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: October Thorn Moth

SPECIESTetracis jubararia

FAMILY: Geometridae (Geometrid Moths)

RANGE: Southern California to British Columbia

LIFE LIST DATE7/12/2014

LOCATION: On one of my kitchen cabinets, La Cresta, Murrieta, SW Riverside County, CA

Emerald Geometer Moth (Dichorda illustraria)


According to the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Geometer moths "make up one of our largest moth families, with more than 1,400 species in the U.S. and Canada." Larval hosts include Laurel Sumac (Malosma laurina), Skunkbush (Rhus trilobata) and gooseberries (Ribes sp.) 

 6/26/16
A cool-looking green moth that I almost dismissed as an errant leaf that blew into our master bedroom from the balcony. 


LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Emerald Geometer Moth

SPECIESDichorda illustraria

FAMILY: Geometridae (Geometrid Moths)

LIFE LIST DATE6/26/2016

LOCATION: In our master bedroom, La Cresta, Murrieta, SW Riverside County, CA

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Boisduval's Blue (Plebejus icarioides)


  7/7/16  Green Creek, Toiyabe NF, Eastern Sierra, Mono County, CA

7/7/16

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Boisduval's Blue

SPECIESPlebejus icarioides

FAMILY: Lycaenidae (Gossamer-Winged Butterflies)

LIFE LIST DATE7/7/2016

LOCATION: Campsite (unmarked-no number) next to Green Creek off Green Creek Road, Toiyabe National Forest, between Bodie and Bridgeport, Eastern Sierra, Mono County, CA

Hoary Comma (Polygonia gracilis)

Commas, aka "Anglewings" are named for the distinctive silvery "comma" mark on their below hindwing. Based on my field guides, I narrowed the ID down to either a Satyr Comma (Polygonia satyrus) or a Hoary Comma (P. gracilis), but opted for P. gracilis, which has an orange-yellow submarginal hindwing band and also lacks the black central spot on the hindwing that is found in the Satry. An interesting factoid about Commas, according to the Kaufman Focus Guide Butterflies of North America, is that they prefer "to feed at tree sap, rotting fruit, mud, dung or carrion instead of flowers."

 7/7/16 On wet bank next to Green Creek, Eastern Sierra, Mono County, CA
Well-camouflaged, looking like a dead leaf, when the wings are closed.

 7/7/16 

 7/7/16

7/7/16

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Hoary Comma

SPECIESPolygonia gracilis

FAMILY: Nymphalidae (Brush-Footed Butterflies)

LIFE LIST DATE7/7/2016

LOCATION: Campsite (unmarked-no number) next to Green Creek off Green Creek Road, Toiyabe National Forest, between Bodie and Bridgeport, Eastern Sierra, Mono County, CA

Zerene Fritillary (Speyeria zerene)

 7/7/16 Zerene Fritillaries on Mountain Monardella (Monardella odoratissima)
Dunderburg Meadow Road, E. Sierra, Mono County, CA


 7/7/16

7/7/16

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Zerene Fritillary

SPECIESSpeyeria zerene

FAMILY: Nymphalidae (Brush-Footed Butterflies)

LIFE LIST DATE7/7/2016

LOCATION: Dunderburg Meadow Road (off Green Creek Road), between Bodie & Bridgeport, Eastern Sierra, Mono County, CA

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Granite Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus orcutti)

Thanks to Gary Nafis at www.californiaherps.com, I was able to ID this guy as a Granite Spiny Lizard. He (not Gary) was basking on the redwood deck in our back patio - I guess a good alternative hangout to large granite outcroppings - go figure.





LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Granite Spiny Lizard

SPECIESSceloporus orcutti

FAMILY: Phyrnosomatidae

LIFE LIST DATE4/24/2016

LOCATION: La Cresta, Murrieta, SW Riverside County, CA

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Jerusalem Cricket (Stenopelmatus species)


4/30/16 Crawling up the wall in my herb garden, La Cresta, Murrieta, 
SW Riverside County, CA

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Jerusalem Cricket

SPECIESStenopelmatus species

FAMILY: Stenopelmatidae

LIFE LIST DATE4/30/2016

LOCATION: La Cresta, Murrieta, SW Riverside County, CA

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)



 5/1/16 On a butterfly bush outside our front portico, La Cresta, Murrieta,
SW Riverside County, CA

5/1/16

4/22/16 On my herb garden gate

4/22/16 

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Mourning Cloak

SPECIESNymphalis antiopa

FAMILY: Nymphalidae (Brush-Footed Butterflies)

LIFE LIST DATE4/22/2016

LOCATION: On our property (my herb garden gate) in La Cresta, Murrieta, SW Riverside County, CA

Ringed Turtle-Dove (Streptopelia risoria)


4/22/16 Eating birdseed on our property in La Cresta, Murrieta, SW Riverside County, CA

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Ringed Turtle-Dove, Barbary Dove

SPECIESStreptopelia risoria

FAMILY: Columbidae (Pigeons & Doves)

LIFE LIST DATE4/22/2016

LOCATION: Eating birdseed on our property in La Cresta, Murrieta, SW Riverside County, CA


HABITAT/BEHAVIOR: Birds that are seen are often escaped pets and are often called Ringed Turtle-Doves, a form of African Collared-Dove that has been domesticated for centuries. These birds frequently escape from captivity, and feral populations have become established in some cities in the southern United States.

IDENTIFYING MARKS: Medium-sized bird with small head; pale buff to white body and head; black half collar on back of neck; medium long square tail. Adult eyes are red. 

VOICE: (From Kaufman Focus Guide to Birds of North America) - cooing with drawn out rolling sound cooo-krrrrooooooo.

Friday, November 13, 2015

House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)

4/3/11 Meccacopia Trail, Mecca Hills, Riverside County, CA

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: House Finch

SPECIESCarpodacus mexicanus

FAMILY: Fringillidae (Finches)

LIFE LIST DATE1/14/2001

LOCATION: Andree Clark Bird Refuge, Santa Barbara County, CA

From Kaufman Focus Guide-Birds of North America:

HABITAT/BEHAVIOR: An abundant and familiar bird of back yards, cities, open woods, deserts, canyons. Native to the west, but has spread to the east through introduction. Commonly visits bird feeders, often in flocks. Nest is hidden in sites such as dense trees, palms, vines on walls, and hanging pots. 

IDENTIFYING MARKS: 5 1/2"; Female and young have rather plain brown face, blurry stripes all over pale underparts. Male has red eyebrow and forehead contrasting with brown cap. Throat and chest red, lower underparts whitish, with dark stripes on sides. 

VOICE: fast cheery warbling, usually with loud rough note at end. Call notes: musical chirping.

Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)

7/6/05 Convict Lake, Eastern Sierra, Mono County, CA

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Winter Wren

SPECIESTroglodytes troglodytes

FAMILY: Troglodytidae (Wrens)

LIFE LIST DATE7/6/2005

LOCATION: One observed in dense thickets at Convict Lake, Eastern Sierra, Mono County, CA

From Kaufman Focus Guide-Birds of North America:

HABITAT/BEHAVIOR: A stub-tailed gnome that haunts northern evergreen forest in summer, moving south in winter. Often very hard to see, creeping like a rodent under fallen logs, through dense thickets, along streambanks. 

IDENTIFYING MARKS: 4"; Small and dark, suggests house wren but has shorter tail, stronger barring on flanks, different callnote. 

VOICE: Squeaky kimp-kimp; sometimes a dry chatter. 

Western Wood-Peewee (Contopus sordidulus)

7/7/05 Nesting on aspen tree outside our rental cabin at Convict Lake, Eastern Sierra, Mono County, CA

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Black-Billed Magpie

SPECIESPica hudsonia

FAMILY: Corvidae (Crows, Jays & Magpies)

LIFE LIST DATE7/7/2005

LOCATION: Pair nesting on aspen tree at Convict Lake, Eastern Sierra, Mono County, CA

From Kaufman Focus Guide-Birds of North America:

HABITAT/BEHAVIOR: Open woods, stream side trees. Common in summer in woods of canyons and riversides. Flies out from perch to catch aerial insects. Compact nests of plant fibers and downy materials, covered with silvery leaves or lichens, built over a horizontal limb or fork 8-40 ft. high. 

IDENTIFYING MARKS: 6 1/2"; Confusingly plain, with faint wing bars, no eye ring. Prominent peach at back of head; grayish olive above, whitish throat. Adult has black upper bill, usually some orange at base of lower bill. 

VOICE: Song is a fee-err-reet. Call is a burry descending feeer. Male sings continuously through breeding season. Dawn-song, a rapidly repeated version of song, lasting up to half an hour, can be given early in morning. 

Olive-Sided Flycatcher (Canopus cooperi)


9/15/06 On our property, La Cresta, Murrieta, Riverside County, CA

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Olive-Sided Flycatcher

SPECIESCanopus cooperi

FAMILY: Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

LIFE LIST DATE9/15/2006

LOCATION: One observed perched on an Engelmann oak tree at the top of our property. La Cresta, Murrieta, SW Riverside County

From Kaufman Focus Guide-Birds of North America:

HABITAT/BEHAVIOR: Uncommon in summer in coniferous forest, usually near water. Typical on bare twig at top of tree, flying out to catch insects, returning to same perch. 

IDENTIFYING MARKS: 7 1/2"; Dark mottled sides contrast with white stripe down center of chest (like unbuttoned vest). Has big-headed, short-tailed look. Tuft of white may show above wing. 

VOICE: Whistled quick-three-beers! Callnote: sharp pip-pip.

Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani)

1/15/05 Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival event "Birding the Bluff." Bluff Trail, Montana de Oro State Park, 
San Luis Obispo County, CA

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Black Oystercatcher

SPECIESHaematopus bachmani

FAMILY: Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)

LIFE LIST DATE8/19/2004

LOCATION: Spooner's Cove, Montana de Oro State Park, San Luis Obispo County, CA

From Kaufman Focus Guide-Birds of North America:

HABITAT/BEHAVIOR: Along the Pacific coast, this bird haunts wave-washed rocks and is seldom found where the coast lacks rocky areas. Usually seen in pairs. 

IDENTIFYING MARKS: 17 1/2"; All black (browned on back) with oversized red bill, yellow eyes. Juvenile has dark tip on bill. 

VOICE: Loud, clear wheeep with quality of human whistle.