California Wildlife II - Everything else except birds

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This page covers all Californian wildlife pictures I've taken except birds.

Mammals: Start with Carnivores. Carnivores are scarce in California, because they are on top of the food chain and require a bigger ecosystem to survive. Loss of habitat from modern development has a bigger effect on the number of carnivores. Large carnivores like grizzly bears are extinct in California. Probably the only grizzly bear left is in our state seal. From left to right, a Coyote (Canis latrans) in Death Valley (2 pix). A Raccoon (Procyon lotor) drinks water from a lake at night near my apartment (3 pix). In the last pic is a pair of grizzly bear (Ursus arctos ssp.). Once upon a time, it's so ubiquitous that our state put it in their state seal. Now it's all but extinct in the Californian wild.

A Grey Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) in Cyote Hill Regional Park. The next spring, two cubs appeared. Their favorit prey, the ubiquitous Jackrabbits.

A North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis, 1-4th). A very good swimmer and can stay under wafer for up to 4 minutes and travel up to 400 meters, making it rather difficult to tack. A Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis, 5-6th) - I certainly shall keep my distant.


Marine Mammals. Northern Elephant seals (M. angustirostris) resting on the shore of Point Reyes National Seashore (1st 3 pix) and along the Pacific coast (CA-1). The largest and heaviest seal, the elephant seal is named for the large extended snout in male, which resemble the trunk of an elephant. Their gigantic sizes, which can reach 18 ft (5.5m) and 5,000 lbs (2.2 tons), might also have contributed to the name.

Californian Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus) Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco (4 pix) and Point Lobo State Reserve (last pic). The males can grow up to 8 ft (2.4m) and 600 lbs (300kgs) and the females are smaller. Theses are smart and adaptable animals, often trained in marin parks, zoos, and circuses.

Smaller marine mammals. Harbor Seals or Common Seals (Phoca vitulina, 3 pix) are relative of Sea Lions, but a bit smaller (up to 6ft and 300lbs). They like to stick their head above water curiously. The last 3 pix is a Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris) playing on water. Otters love to lie with their belly up, one claw holds the food (usually shell fish or dungeness crab), then crack them with stone holding on the other hand... pretty smart eh?

Whales! Every spring (March-April), large group of Grey Whale (Eschrichtius robustus, 1st 2 pix) migrate from Baja, Mexico to Alaska. Since they like to stay close to the coast for food, you can often spot them from Point Reyes. The first pic is a pair of mother and cub. Adult grey whale are typically over 40 feet long. The next 4 pix are Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) spotted in Point Lobos State Reserve. They are similar in size with the grey whale but apparently more acrobatic. They often show off their hump back, then its tail for a dive deep into the water.


Deer. A Black-tailed Deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) wondering in Point Lobo State Reserve. Black-tailed deer are commonly found in the west and spread as eastward as Wyoming.

Elks (Cervus canadensis) in Redwood National Park (2 pix). A Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus, 3 pix).

A White-tailed Jackrabbit or Prairie Hare (Lepus townsendii, 6 pix); and a funny-looking Pocket Gopher (Thomomys bottae) emerging from its burrow in the last 4 pix.

A California Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus beecheyi, 1 pic, lives underground) and Tree Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) in Golden Gate Park (2 pix). Chipmunks (Tamias) can be distinguished by the stripes (3 pix). Like ground squirrels, chipmunks also live in burrows.


Reptiles: First three pix are probably Southern Alligator Lizards (Elgaria multicarinata). The following three pix is a San Francisco Alligator Lizard (E.c. coerulea), found in Castle Rock in Santa Cruz County of the bay area.

Hiding in the grass is a Gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer, 3 pic). It's non poisonous, and feeds mainly on small mammals, birds, eggs, reptiles, and occasionally insects, but basically harmless to human. Western Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus) in the next pic, however, is venomous and has a more respectable reputation. The fact is, rattlesnakes are generally not as aggressive as we think. They rarely attack human, unless provoked or harassed. In the last two pix are couple of turtles (Testudines).

Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) The adult has a characteristic blue hue on the abdomen, earning it the nickname "Blue-belly."


Amphibians: The first row is about California Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma californiense), the first 3 pix are its larva and the last one is a pix of adult I grabbed from the web. An endangered amphibian, the larva has both lung and external gills (sticking out like fins, very much like early stage of tadpole).

The first pic is a Coast Range Newt (Taricha torosa torosa). Then two Western Toads (Bufo boreas, 2 pix), and a greenish Pacific Treefrog (Pseudacris regilla) that live in my balcony (it prefers to live under the leaves of my Aloe Vera).


Insects and Other Invertebrates:

The pollen lovers: Honey Bees (Apis mellifera, 2 pix) and Yellow-faced Bumble Bees (Bombus vosnesenskii, 2 pix) on various flowers. In the last 2 pix, possibly a Sweat Bee (Halictus farinosus).

In the first 3 pix is a Golden Paper Wasp (Polistes aurifer). Last 3 pix, a group of Western Yellowjacket Wasps (Vespula pensylvanica) were attaching our plate of smoked turkey -- these are apparently ferocious meat eaters.

In the first pic is a Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta, 1 pic), followed by a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui, yeah, kinda colorful, 1 pic). In the last 3 pix is an Anise Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio zelicaon).

In the first pic is a Buckeye Butterfly (Junonia coenia, 1 pic), followed by a Mylitta Crescent (Phyciodes mylitta, 1 pic) and a a Cabbage Butterfly (Pieris rapae); in the last 2 pix is a Silvery Blue Butterfly (Glaucopsyche lygdamus).

In the first 3 pix, a Monarch (Danaus plexippus), one of the more familiar butterfly species in North America. In the 4th pic is a Western Branded Skipper (Hesperia colorado, 1 pic). In the last pic, the Caterpillar is actually the lava of Bay Checkerspot Butterfly (Euphydryas editha bayensis),

Dragonflies. A ferocious-looking Blue-eyed Darner (Aeshna multicolor, syn. Rhionaeschna multicolor, 2 pix); followed by 2 pix of a Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata). The name apparently comes from the two stains on its wing, resembling a pair of saddlebags. In the last pic is a similar species, Red Saddlebags (Tramea onusta).

Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum, 4 pix). In the 2nd-4th pix, the pair were performing their amazingly acrobatic mating ritual and dipping their eggs into water. In the last pic, a Cyrano Darner (Nasiaeschna pentacantha).

In the first 2 pix, a Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis). Next two are the similar but much smaller damseflies, a Vivid Dancer (Argia vivida, 3rd pic), and a Western Forktail (Ischnura perparva, 4th pic). Lastly, a Yellow Flower Spider (Misumena vatia) hiding in a Blue Dicks.

An European Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus, 1-3rd pic). In the next 2 pix is an interesting bug call Water Boatman (Family Corixidae). The name apparently comes from the two long and hairy hind legs that shape and row like two oars as it swims. In the last pic, a Tadpole shrimp (Triops longicaudatus, 1st pic), which is often found in California fresh wafer ponds or pools. It's been around for 70 million years, a living fossil.

Red Swamp Crayfish (Procambarus clarkii, 1-3rd pix) is originally from Southeastern US. An invasive species, now it has become a pest in many other continents. But at least it's delicious, Cajun style; so if anything, we can still gobble them into extinction to save the world. In the last 3 pix are Green Shore Crabs (Carcinus maenas). An invasive species from Northeast Atlantic, it has colonize the Pacific Coast and thrive in the Bay Area.

Another common species, Striped Shore Crab (Pachygrapsus crassipes, 3 pix) can be found in rock crevasses along the California coast. A more interesting species is the Blueband Hermit Crab (Pagurus samuelis), with characteristic bands on the limbs. It's got a particular taste for abandoned shells of Black Turbine Snails.

The two Flea Beatles (Family Chrysomelidae) are busy having fun. Next is a Western Box-elder Bug (Boisea rubrolineata, 2 pix) a little Hover Fly (Family Syrphidae, 1 pic); a bluish beatle I can't identify (Spanish fly? Just kidding. last pic);

A Lady bug (Family Coccinellidae), a Grasshopper, and a Stink Beetle (Eleodes obscurus, with its butt up, 1 pic). What do you think this black little guy is doing? If it is disturbed further, from its butt would come a noxious liquid that would scare away most predators. Watch out! :) Lastly, a Millipede, a Water striders (Family Gerridae), and a Banana Slug (Genus Ariolimax).



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