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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.


  1. Scarlet Gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata)

    Scarlet Gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata)

    Here we can see the yellow stamens projecting beyond the flower tube, helping to distinguish this species from the Lavender Gilia (Slendertube Skyrocket) which I posted yesterday. BTW, it is pronounced "Jee-lee-uh" after its namesake, Italian scientist and clergyman Filippo Luigi Gilii.
  2. Slendertube Skyrocket (Ipomopsis tenuituba)

    Slendertube Skyrocket (Ipomopsis tenuituba)

    Also known as Lavender Gilia, this attractive member of the Phlox family can be found on the North Central and East slope of the Sierra Nevada where it prefers gravelly or rocky slopes. Note that the stamens do not extend beyond the flower tube helping to distinguish this species from the...
  3. Yellow Waterlily (Nymphaea mexicana)

    Yellow Waterlily (Nymphaea mexicana)

    This obligate hydrophyte (restriced to wetlands) is native to the Southern United States and Mexico. It has been introduced as an ornamental elsewhere including here in California where it is considered a "noxious weed" because it may choke out waterways.
  4. Gray Buckeye (Junonia grisea)

    Gray Buckeye (Junonia grisea)

    Formerly considered a race of the Common Buckeye (J. coenia), this population from West of the Rockies is now considered a separate species with a new scientific name. The split was based primarily on genetics. Both species exhibit considerable individual variation and I have been unable to find...
  5. Risso's Dolphin (Grampus griseus)

    Risso's Dolphin (Grampus griseus)

    Formerly scarce in our offshore waters, but now increasing possibly because of increasing sea temperatures. This largest of the world's dolphins also goes by the name "Gray Grampus." Note the bulbous white head and long flippers.
  6. Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

    Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

    Eastern Gray Squirrels were introduced into Golden Gate Park, San Francisco around 1925 and locally elsewhere in California where they have become established. They have also been introduced to Europe where they are considered invasive. This species is polymorphic with black and brown morphs...
  7. Boisduval's Blue (Icaricia icarioides)

    Boisduval's Blue (Icaricia icarioides)

    This is a female with brownish upperwings. Note the faint submarginal spots on the underwing. I could use some guidance about the subspecies. The white spots in the medial-underwing suggest one of the populations on the East Slope of the Sierra (subspecies I. i. eosierra/fulla). Populations in...
  8. Northern Pintail

    Northern Pintail

    This is a male. The North American population has dropped from about six million to just over three million in recent decades, a decline that has been noticeable in my lifetime. Notice the fine gray herringbone pattern (technically called vermiculations) which form most of the body pattern.
  9. Townsend's Solitaire

    Townsend's Solitaire

    This morning I stopped by the botanic garden hoping to photograph the Townsend's Solitaire present since at least 22 October when found by Alok Singhal. I parked by the west fence and set up a chair. After about five minutes the solitaire appeared on top of the tall conifer near the entrance...
  10. Piute Ground Squirrel (Urocitellus mollis)

    Piute Ground Squirrel (Urocitellus mollis)

    Also known as the "Great Basin Ground Squirrel," this unassuming species is quite range restricted in California with small populations near the Northern California Nevada border. It can be confused with the larger, stockier Belding's Ground Squirrel which prefers alpine meadows. Piute lacks the...
  11. Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel (Callospermophilus lateralis)

    Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel (Callospermophilus lateralis)

    Often confused with chipmunks, these attractive highland ground squirrels lack the facial stripes that chipmunks show. Note the white lateral body stripe is bordered on both sides by black. These ground squirrels commonly attend picnic areas looking for scraps and can become quite tame. The...
  12. Williamson's Sapsucker

    Williamson's Sapsucker

    Normally inhabiting high elevation pine forests in the western mountains, this one is out of range having taken up seasonal residence in coastal lowlands. Today, Robbie Fischer and I visited Vasona Park in hopes of seeing this male Williamson's Sapsucker known to be in the area since at least 4...
  13. Thick-billed Kingbird

    Thick-billed Kingbird

    Learning that Rich Ferrick found a Thick-billed Kingbird at Flood Park, I decided to head down in hopes of getting some pictures. Upon arrival a small group of interested birders were already on the bird and taking pictures. At first it was rather far away on top of a dead pine, but it...
  14. Douglas's Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii)

    Douglas's Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii)

    Note the dark line on the side bordering the pale belly. Belly color varies from orange to whitish. This is a rather small tree squirrel ranging from the Cascades of British Columbia to northern California. Sometimes called "Chickaree" based on its vocalizations. Populations in California are...
  15. Belding's Ground Squirrel (Urocitellus beldingi)

    Belding's Ground Squirrel (Urocitellus beldingi)

    This stocky ground squirrel is found mostly at higher elevations in the Sierra Nevada. They often sit upright to keep an eye out for danger as seen here. This is presumably the nominate subspecies U. b. beldingi which ranges in Northern California. This species is reported to breed promiscuously...
  16. Lodgepole Chipmunk (Neotamias speciosus)

    Lodgepole Chipmunk (Neotamias speciosus)

    Chipmunks in the Sierra Nevada are notoriously difficult to identify. I have tentatively identified this one as a Lodgepole Chipmunk based on the lack of a black stripe underneath the prominent white dorsal stripe. It is much less colorful and has shorter ears than the Long-eared Chipmunk which...
  17. Long-eared Chipmunk (Neotamias quadrimaculatus)

    Long-eared Chipmunk (Neotamias quadrimaculatus)

    Chipmunks in the Sierra Nevada are notoriously difficult to identify. I have tentatively identified this one based on its bright colors and long ears with distinct white post auricular patch. Here it overlaps with the Lodgepole Chipmunk which is duller with shorter ears. Also Long-eared...
  18. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

    Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

    Back again for another year, this adult is well north of its normal West Coast range. Its large swollen bill is specialized for eating crabs. This species has expanded its range northward with multiple pairs breeding in coastal Southern California as far as Ventura County. Their first successful...
  19. Western Bluebird

    Western Bluebird

    This male posed on a wire near our hawk watching site. In many areas, this species has declined because of nest site competition from introduced European Starlings, but the bluebirds seem to be increasing locally as they continue to adapt to residential areas. Although monogamous, genetic...
  20. White-throated Sparrow

    White-throated Sparrow

    This one dropped into our yard for a couple of days, but seems to have moved on. They are an uncommon winter visitor and migrant in California. They are famous for negative assortative mating between the two color morphs. White-striped morphs prefer to mate with tan-striped morphs and vice...
  21. American Crow

    American Crow

    If you look closely, there is a violet gloss to the scapular and back feathers. This species has increased rapidly in the San Francisco Bay area largely in response to discontinuing "predator control" as a "conservation" measure after the 1950's. Often confused with Common Raven, Crows are...
  22. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

    Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

    Normally found in Eastern North America, this is a rarity here in California. It is an adult male, identified by its solid red throat patch framed by black. Sapsuckers are a group of rather quiet secretive woodpeckers that feed not by sucking sap, but by drilling short wells into the cambium...
  23. Rock Wren

    Rock Wren

    These tiny gray-brown birds are easy to overlook as they forage on the towering cliffs of Devil's Slide. I am always amazed by their vocal gymnastics, including many varied phrases. Kroodsma documented that some individuals sing over 100 different songs, including mimicry of other birds. (D. E...
  24. Band-tailed Pigeon

    Band-tailed Pigeon

    This adult was attracted to birdseed on our back deck. Juveniles are similar but lack the white nape crescent. This is probably a male. Females average duller overall, with a narrower white crescent and less extensive greenish-bronze iridescent feathers on the nape. They are the largest North...
  25. Common Raven

    Common Raven

    Distinguished from similar American Crow by larger bulk, longer tail, shaggy throat feathering and heavier bill. Sometimes called Northern Raven, they are claimed to be the world's largest passerine based on body size. They complete for this title with the Thick-billed Raven (Corvus...