Spring has sprung!

Even though it’s only February, it’s already spring in Southern California. Green leaves and shoots are popping up all over, and the earliest flowering plants are starting to bloom.

One of the first to flower is the White-flowering Currant (Ribes indecorum), which is making a show all over the Wilderness Park just now. This large deciduous shrub of chaparral and sage scrub has lobed, wrinkled bright green leaves that are slightly sticky and clusters of small white flowers in loose, dangling clusters, which are visited by bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The photo of the flowering plant above was taken last week in Johnson’s Pasture.

In late spring and summer, the White-flowering Currant has blue-purple berries, which are attractive to birds.

Berries of Ribes indecorum.
A bright green, wrinkled leaf of Ribes indecorum
The undersides of the leaves of Ribes indecorum have hairs that give them a whitish appearance.

Lots more plants will be flowering soon, so keep your eyes out! If you like looking at and photographing plants and animals in the Park, please think about posting to iNaturalist. Anything you post in the Park will be collected by our Biota of the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park project.

P.S. We have no idea why the specific name is indecorum. This plant’s decorum seems fine to us!

Endangered Species Day May 15!

May 15, 2020 is Endangered Species Day, and we’re highlighting Endangered Species in the Wilderness Park – Nevin’s Barberry (Berberis nevinii), which is listed as Endangered by both the State of California and US Fish & Wildlife, and Crotch’s Bumble Bee, which is a candidate for Endangered Species listing in the state of California.

Nevin’s Barberry (shown above) is an evergreen shrub with prickly leaves bearing bright yellow, sweetly scented flowers in the early spring, followed by red-orange berries. Many bees and wasps love its flowers.

Crotch’s Bumble Bee (Bombus crotchii) could be confused with the much more common Yellow-faced Bumble Bee (Bombus vosnesenskii), but it’s face is black, and the yellow stripe on the abdomen is wider and closer to the thorax.

Bombus_crotchii-051419-3113

If you are out in the Wilderness Park, and spot any rare or endangered species, please let us know by emailing info@friendsofthewildernesspark.org. If you are an iNaturalist user, please post any photos to iNaturalist, but do also email us. Because iNaturalist obscures the location, the sighting won’t appear in our Wilderness Park project (https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/biota-of-the-claremont-hills-wilderness-park).

For more information on Endangered Species Day and what you can do to help Endangered Species, see:

https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esday/index.html

California Biodiversity Day at the Wilderness Park

Thanks to everyone who participated in California Biodiversity Day at the Wilderness Park, and especially the Rangers, who set it all up!  On Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 7 and 8, forty-eight new observations were reported to our iNaturalist project.  Thirty-seven different species were reported, including 13 species not previously reported to iNaturalist for the Park.  Here are a few of our favorites.  The ones with * are new species for our iNaturalist project.

*Lorquin’s Admiral (Limenitis lorquini):
Limenitis_lorquini-090819-5389The Lorquin’s Admiral is thought to be a Batesian mimic of the California Sister, which is reportedly much less palatable to predators.

Woodland Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanoides) nectaring on *Douglas’s Threadleaf Ragwort (Senecio flaccidus var. douglasii):Ochlodes_sylvanoides-090819-5517The Woodland Skippers were all over Evey Canyon on Sunday.  Douglas’s Threadleaf Ragwort blooms later than most and attracts a lot of bees and butterflies in late summer and early fall.

A robber fly (*Stenopogon sp.) with a *Western Yellowjacket (Vespula pensylvanica) prey:Robber_fly-090819-5435This was a two-fer!  Both the Stenopogon robber fly and the Western Yellowjacket were new additions to our project. Isn’t the robber fly a fearsome-looking creature?

A long-horned beetle (*Tragidion annulatum):Tragidion_annulatum-090819-5486With its blue iridescent body and coppery elytra, this large, colorful beetle is an amazing tarantula hawk mimic.

*Genista Broom Moth (Uresiphita reversalis) caterpillar on Spanish Broom (Spartium junceum):Uresiphita_reversalis-090819-5573There were quite a few of these on the broom in Evey Canyon – four on this plant alone. Who knew there was a moth that used broom as a host plant?  We say, “Go caterpillars!  Eat broom!”

If you made observations in the Park but didn’t report them, don’t worry!  You can submit them any time, and they will still be counted both for the Park and for the statewide California Biodiversity Day project.

Celebrate Biodiversity Day at the Wilderness Park!

September 7, 2019 marks the first official celebration of California Biodiversity Day, an annual event created last year to celebrate the state’s exceptional biodiversity and encourage actions to protect it.  The city of Claremont Park Rangers together with the Friends of the Wilderness Park will be observing California Biodiversity Day 2019 at the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park.

Join us this Saturday, September 7th from 6:30am to 9:30am and learn how to use your phone to contribute to science and the Wilderness Park with iNaturalist!  Just look for the canopy near the North Mills entrance for more information!

Already an iNaturalist user?

Please come and help show others to use the iNaturalist app!

New to iNaturalist?

iNaturalist is an online social network of people sharing biodiversity information to help each other learn about nature. iNaturalist is a collaboration between National Geographic and the California Academy of Sciences.  Anyone can participate in iNaturalist!

Before arriving on Saturday please:

  1. Go to iNaturalist.org and create a free account. You should see “SIGN UP” featured prominently on the homepage.   Otherwise, there’s a “Sign Up” link in the top right corner.
  2. On your smart phone, go to the Apple Store or the Google Play store and download the iNaturalist app.

Once you’ve signed up, you can enter observations from either your phone or computer.  The iNaturalist site has a really good explanation here:

https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/getting+started

The page also has links to video tutorials.

The Wilderness Park Biota Project:

iNat_project_header

The Friends of the Wilderness Park have created an iNaturalist project for documenting the plants and animals of the Wilderness Park.  If you make iNaturalist observations in the Park, they will automatically be collected and added to the project!

If you’d like to check out the CHWP project and see what’s already been reported, just go here:

https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/biotaoftheclaremonthillswildernesspark

A few tips for best practices:

  • If feasible, crop your photos to feature the subject, especially if it’s not clear whether the subject is the bird or the tree, for example.
  • Include a little description. For one thing, you can use the description to say what’s the subject.  But you can also note any additional details, interesting behavior, type of habitat, odors, etc. that may not be obvious from the photo.
  • Give the most specific ID you can, even if it’s not to the species level. For instance, “insect”, “snake”, or even “plant” or “animal” is better than just having “unknown”.
  • Give a little info about yourself in your profile — it increases your credibility.

 

Question of the Day: … but it wasn’t a rattlesnake … or was it?

Today’s question was posed to us by recent Park visitor.

The question is:
I saw this snake on the trail, but it wasn’t a rattlesnake … or was it? It didn’t rattle.

We checked it out!  Here is a photo of the snake in question:

Crotalus_oreganus_helleri-071219-3615.jpg

And the answer is:
Definitely a rattlesnake!

It’s a young Southern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus helleri), which is the only rattlesnake that occurs in our area.  The only other snake in the Wilderness Park with a similar pattern is the San Diego Gophersnake (Pituophis catenifer annectens).  Here’s how to tell them apart (image and information adapted from California Herps’ “Living with Rattlesnakes”):

rattlesnake-gophernake.jpg

Rattlesnake:
 Triangular head, definitely larger than neck
 • Thick, dull, non-gloss body
 • Blunt tail with one or more rattles

Gohpersnake:
Head only slightly larger than neck
 • Slender, glossy body
 • Pointed tail

You can see that the subject of our question meets all three criteria for rattlesnakes!

Close examination of this one’s tail reveals two rattle segments in addition to the terminal button (which it had when it was born).  Young rattlesnakes grow quickly, and they add a new rattle segment each time they shed their skin, so this one is probably less than a year old.

As evidenced by the snake that prompted the question, rattlesnakes do not always rattle. Again, from “Living with Rattlesnakes”: “They will often remain silent when they sense a threat, using their cryptic color and pattern to blend into their surroundings to hide from the threat. In this situation making noise risks advertising their presence. They also use their natural camouflage to hunt by sitting still and not rattling, trying to remain invisible as they wait for a warm-blooded prey animal to pass close enough for the snake to strike it,” although they do often rattle loudly to warn potential enemies of their presence.

Rattlesnakes are the only venomous snakes in our area. (Although some people might call them as “poisonous”, they’re not – poisonous snakes are technically ones that make you sick if your eat them.) Although rattlesnake bites can be extremely dangerous,  rattlesnakes are not aggressive or vicious.  They do not strike or bite without provocation. If rattlesnakes are given some space and time to escape to a safe place, they will usually just crawl away and avoid confrontation.

What should you do if you meet a rattlesnake in the Wilderness Park:

  • Leave it alone!
  • Give the snake a wide berth and walk by; if you can’t pass comfortably at a distance, retrace your steps.
  • Don’t even think about picking it up or poking it with a stick!
  • Don’t yell at the snake or throw rocks at them. They have poor hearing, so they won’t hear you shouting and hitting one with a rock will just irritate or injure the snake.

Be proactive to minimize rattlesnake encounters:

  • Be alert! Rattlesnake behavior changes with the weather. When they want to warm up, they may bask right in the middle of the trail.
  • Stick to the trails. (You’re supposed to do this, anyway!) During the day, snakes may hide in tall grass, weeds or heavy underbrush.
  • Check out stumps or logs before sitting down.
  • Don’t hike alone. Always have someone with you who can assist in an emergency.
  • Leash your dog. (This is already required in the Wilderness Park!) Dogs are at increased risk of being bitten due to holding their nose to the ground while investigating the outdoors.

What should you do if you are bitten?

  • Stay calm but act quickly.
  • Remove watches, rings, etc., which may constrict swelling.
  • Call the Claremont Police Department emergency number (909) 626-1296.
  • Transport the victim to the nearest medical facility.
  • Don’t apply a tourniquet, pack the bit in ice, cut the wound with a knife or razor, or use your mouth to suck out the venom!

More information:

What’s your question?  If you have a question about the Wilderness Park, please email us at info@friendsofthewildernesspark.org.