Year of the Argiope!
Huge population of Argiopes discovered!
Habitat-Fall 2012-CMS 6th grade arachnologists discovered a huge population of beautiful, adult Garden Spiders known as Argiope trifasciata. A few are normally seen each fall but this year is a bumper crop! Over 30 orb webs with adult Argiopes have been found this year. Students have been doing nature journaling and field ecology experiments on them. (See research link) 2 Argiopes are classroom pets in open-air webs. These spiders are large, 4-6cm in total length, and perch face down in their 2 foot wide orb webs. They will soon lay a cocoon of eggs and die.
Beautiful Bobcat Caught by Camera
(Feb. 7th, 2011-1:15pm,Clear and sunny) While photographing some bees, I heard a flock of nearby crows break their silence with a harsh and loud chorus of "Caws". I looked up in case it was an attack out of Hitchcock's, The Birds. Instead, I was treated to a beautiful glimpse of a Bobcat (Lynx rufus), walking by, about 20 yards away. The white-tipped pointy ears and the short, banded tail identified it right away. I quickly scampered up and followed it and got a few seconds of footage. By now it had spotted me and continued to walk away, yet not seeming to be too disturbed by me. It turned and flashed its tail which probably means something in the world of animal behavior. Inspired, I did some reading up on Bobcats. I learned that they are very valuable predators for their main diet consists of rodents and rabbits, which we have in huge numbers at the Habitat. Some people think that Bobcats decimate Quail populations but the data does not support that myth. Yes, this was a cool sighting. We are lucky to have a school where we can see wildlife such as the Bobcat.
Beautiful Caterpillars Seen in Habitat
December 17, 2010. Two beautiful species of lepidopteran larvae were photographed in the habitat today. Both are infrequently seen. Though both are moth larvae, they are in different families. The lower right photo is from a Ceanothus Silk Moth (Euryalus sp.) These are the largest moths in the county, if not the western U.S. The lower left photo has yet to be identified by the Entomology division within the Nature Study department.
New Habitat Salamander Species Found!
(Winter- 2010) A Monterey Salamander (Ensatina sp.), a species regularly seen in oak or pine forest under logs during the moist time of year, was discovered in the bee garden yesterday by Dylan Riley. This species has never been seen at CMS. The only salamander seen at CMS has been the ubiquitous California Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps sp.). This, along with other new CMS Habitat additions such as Common Racer and Spotted Towhee, is likely due to the continued restoration of native plant communities. "If you plant it, they will come" is the idea and the presence of this beautiful salamander is a very pleasing sight for those of us who battle weeds and plant natives.
This gentle amphibian has bright orange shoulders, black eyes, and a notched tail base. It is in a diverse family of salamanders that lack lungs, breathing completely through their moist skin. It eats insects and exudes a milky substance from its tail when threatened. The Nature Study class is planning a "salamander habitat" building project by placing boards and rotting logs in various places around the school. Habitat Restoration is one of the best ways to help wildlife. I have salamander logs that I have placed in my yard at home.Good job, Dylan! -Pat Stadille
CMS MUSEUM Opens in Library with Mammal Exhibit !!
An interesting and informative exhibit on California Mammals, complete with skins and skulls, has opened in the debut of the CMS Museum in the Library. See the Nature Museum section on the Nature Study home page for a complete rundown.
Banana Productions returns with "Bees in Your Life."
Back after a 10 year hiatus, Banana Productions, the film company of P. R. Stadille, has returned with a stunning new motion picture, THE BEES IN YOUR LIFE. Once a busy and proud studio churning out big hits like The Waters of Carmel Bay, Resouces and You, Planet of Doom, Toga of Blood, and The Streets of the Lonely, Banana productions shut down its plant while it retooled into the digital age. Now, using amazing new technology such as Bananacolor and Bananavision, the studio plans to reassert itself as the world's leader in moving pictures. Fans can see an early release of The BEES IN YOUR LIFE by clicking on Bee Movie in the moving picture section of the Nature Study web page. The film is scheduled for world-wide release in the spring.