Sunday, September 23, 2012

Nature Study - 09/23/12

I'm catching up on some pictures of our nature findings from this past month. This is our sunflower plant out front; it grew slouched over from lack of watering and as a result, only part of the flower received sunlight. Interestingly, the side that didn't receive light grew much slower. I always thought they bloomed symmetrically but this makes sense being that they are all separate individual flowers. 

Here's a picture I took standing in ankle deep water at Diver's Cove in Laguna Beach. I don't know the man in the picture, I just wanted to get a picture that showed how clearly you can see the leopard sharks and how close to shore they are. We also saw white sea bass the length of my forearm swimming just as close. 

This is from the same beach in Laguna. During the summer months they rent paddleboards for $25 an hour right on the beach. This lucky boarder got his money's worth! What caught my attention is the location of the spout in this picture, the majority of the fish is behind the spout (to the left, since this one is headed north; to the right.) What we're seeing is not even half of the fish!

This clump of mud was stuck on a brick wall out front for over a year. Any idea what it is?

Here's the backside after I took a knife and gently pried it off the wall. It's a mud-dauber nest. Can you see the amber colored casings left in three of the compartments? There were no wasps in them, only casings. I'm guessing they cocoon just like caterpillars and then emerge, leaving those casings behind. Look at how large they are; they fill the whole cell. 

Here's a side view after we opened a couple of the compartments. This is where they emerge. 

And here's a very brief video of the mud dauber gathering mud for its nest. Maybe it's the one that came out of the nest we found off to make its own. Its nest is way up by the roof where we can't access it this time.

This is hard to see, but I wondered if it might be a sundog of sorts. The u shaped cloud had rainbow colors in it. The red is closest to the sun and the blue farther away which matches what is said of them. 

Here is a picture of something that we've been seeing all over the kelp along the beach here. My best attempt at discovering what it is landed me at "lichenopora," a type of bryozoa. It is hard like a shell and pinkish in color. I heard it briefly mentioned on this video by Dr. Bill Bushing (who lives on Catalina Island diving and filming underwater sea life in 'self-imposed poverty' lol!) Catalina is 37 miles off the mainland here and an hour and a half boat ride away. There are non-native Bison that roam there and the chewing gum giant Wrigley's mansion is open for tours. Our sun always sets on Catalina on clearer days.

Here is another kind of bryozoa which I mentioned before. What struck me this time is that they are all in the creases of the kelp. I wonder if it is an accident or if they select it as a more protected area.

Here is a gorgeous sunset sky, Catalina is not visible in it. I keep meaning to purchase this cloud poster in hopes of learning more about the types of clouds we see. I can't help but wonder if it's truly an exact science -- they seem like they could be a couple of different kinds to me. Alas, we have much to learn.   

 Here's a short video of a sea hare we found hanging on for dear life to a little piece of rose colored seaweed in the surf. I think it's the smallest one we've seen.

The water had a lot of kelp in it today. I wonder if it has to do with recent storms elsewhere. There were several big batches of kelp like this floating off shore and drifting up on onto the beach. 

Here's the holdfast of the kelp. Guess what my four-year-old found hiding in it?

Little brittle stars :)

And here is the view as we headed home {gasp}. Glorious sky!

Last, and certainly least, we have shrimp for pets now! Every now and then we would end up with a bunch of tiny shrimp lying dead in our entryway and we couldn't figure out for the life of us why. Then we put out a bowl of water for a bird bath and the next morning we had tiny shrimp swimming in it! I finally got around to looking it up and apparently they are 'lawn shrimp' or 'house hoppers' -- they live where there is a lot of moisture and our front area tends to get flooded because it's at the bottom of two hills so it makes sense! We're going to see how long we can keep them :)