Dr. Free-Ride: Hey, can you guys draw me a picture with some of the wildlife you’ve seen in the last week?
Elder offspring: Sure!
Younger offspring: But … I haven’t seen any wildlife in the last week.
Dr. Free-Ride: What are you talking about? We see wildlife every day when we walk to school.
Elder offspring: Yeah, the squirrels and the different kinds of birds and the snails.
Younger offspring: That counts as wildlife? OK, I can make you a picture.
As mentioned last week, the sprogs and I tried to undertake some noticing-of-wildlife as part of the First Annual Blogger Bioblitz. As a transplant from the East Coast to the San Francisco Bay Area, I figured we’d have an easy time of it, given that the weather here is already pretty conducive to being outside and that our proximity to both the bay and a major creek means there’s lots of nature close to home (since between work, school, soccer practices, homework, and the like, we turn out to be pretty busy).
What I didn’t count on (but discovered from the conversation transcribed above) is that the constant presence of wildlife in your daily life can render it invisible. Wildlife where? You’re soaking in it!
Luckily, the sprogs are quick on their feet. When asked to re-examine their week, they were able to help me compile the list of critters encountered in our regular territory. (We’ve not included the Linnaean binomials — feel free to share if you know them!)
Canada geese a-plenty. They like the field at the elementary school. Elder offspring suspects that they are “on dates” when we see them grazing in pairs (“because it might be goose mating season”).
Seagulls. (If they mostly frequent the bay, are they more properly baygulls?)
Sparrows (including one that got into the elementary school lunchroom).
These little birds with yellowish heads that are always gone by the time I find my camera.
Turkey vultures (flying overhead).
Hawks (flying overhead).
A pelican (flying overhead, and not something we see every day).
We didn’t actually observe any ultraviolet sparrows. I suspect that requires special equipment.
Bugs and other crawly things:
Numerous ladybugs. (Yay ladybugs! Bring your friends! Our garden always has room for more ladybugs.)
Spiders of various sizes and colors. (At least one might have been a Golden Garden spider, but it was on its way someplace and seemed to be in a hurry.)
Pillbugs (including the unfortunate pillbug pictured above, caught in a spider’s web).
Light green larvae of some sort that were in the ground (uncovered during a weeding jag).
Little black beetles.
The vaguely diamond-shaped black bug with red spots pictured here on a rose:
Lots of slugs (from tiny baby slugs to honking big slugs).
Lots of snails, including these two snails “on a date”:
We did not observe any coddling moths, so maybe our apples won’t be too wormy this year.
Squirrels in profusion.
Also, a neighbor saw a skunk who, apparently, hadn’t gotten the memo that skunks are largely nocturnal, since it was broad daylight.
The raccoons and possums that we sometimes see at night apparently celebrated National Wildlife Week by taking the week off.
Feel free to report any interesting critters you may have encountered this week in the comments.