San Mateo County, California
A Century of Field Identification
Speaker: Joe Morlan
Thursday, March 13, 2014, 7:00 pm
Joe Morlan will present a history of bird identification starting with early pioneers in sight identification, and a personal look back at how birding and bird identification has changed over the decades. Sight identifications considered by Ludlow Griscom to be impossible in 1922 are routine today. Likewise our knowledge of bird distribution has grown dramatically since the days of Griscom and other pioneers. But what will future generations think of our own conventional wisdom when it comes to bird identification and distribution? Technology continues to advance in the fields of optics and photography. These advances have been an integral part of the rapid evolutionary changes in the way we see birds and the way future generations will see them. Join us for this entertaining and thought-provoking presentation.
Joe Morlan has long been one of the premier birders in California. He established the Northern California Bird Box and has a superb website. He is co-author of "Birds of San Francisco and the Bay Area" and "Birds of Northern California." He has taught birding classes for adults through the San Francisco Unified School District. He is the winner of the American Birding Association's Ludlow Griscom Award for 2010.
Wildlife of the Eastern and Central Tropical Pacific
Speaker: Sophie Webb
Thursday, April 10, 2014, 7:00 pm
About 12 years ago Sophie Webb started to spend up to 7 months a year at sea working on a variety of research cruises censusing seabirds. These ranged from cruises of a short duration, 2 weeks to longer cruises that lasted up to 5 months. Her talk will be about the latter cruises.
The long cruises were run by the Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) a lab of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) based in La Jolla California. The main purpose of the expeditions was to census marine mammals in either the US EEZ in the central Pacific (Hawaii, Palmyra, Johnston Atoll), the Pacific Coast of the US or in the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) a vast area about the size of Africa, extending from San Diego to Hawaii to Ecuador or Northern Peru.
Rather than look solely at marine mammals given the unique nature (and expense) of where the cruises were going the researchers at SWFSC created an interdisciplinary program that included oceanography, turtle, fish and squid sampling and seabird censusing: the latter being my contribution to the overall picture of the ecology and seabird distribution. Her talk will focus on the wildlife (mainly birds and marine mammals) encountered on the tropical cruises in the Central and Eastern Tropical Pacific. Many species of seabirds, some little known, migrate to or through the region from remote Pacific Islands. The data gathered on the cruises have increased our understanding of seabird ranges away from their breeding colonies and marine mammal distribution and recovery (or lack of) in the Pacific.
Sophie Webb has travelled from the Antarctic to the Arctic and numerous places in between to both draw and study birds. She co-authored and illustrated a Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America (OU Press) and a Field Guide to the Marine Mammals of the Pacific Coast (UC Press). She has contributed illustrations to a variety of bird guides, books and magazines. In recent years she has written and illustrated three children's books about research projects she has worked on (HMCo). One of her favorite past-times is to sketch wildlife in the field. She is a director of Oikonos: ecosystem knowledge, a research associate of PRBO Conservation Science (now Point Blue) and a sometime employee of NOAA's South West Fisheries Science Center.
Tigers on Market Street!
A Remarkable Tale of Butterfly Habitat along San Francisco's Busiest Urban Corridor
Speakers: Liam O'Brien and Amber Hasselbring
Thursday, May 8, 2014, 7:00 pm
Saturday, May 10th - Field trip to Edgewood Park for Butterflies
Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
Not long after the transit tunnels of Muni and Bart went in below Market Street in the 70's, a San Franciscan butterfly - the Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus) discovered an ecosystem freshly lined with one of the butterfly's larval food, or host trees: the London Plane sycamore (Plantanus acerifolia). Males fly among the treetops, females lay eggs on the leaves, caterpillars feed and pupate, and adult butterflies emerge. This creature's entire lifecycle has played out for years unheralded by the thousands who walk below this canopy daily. As the city re-imagines our grandest boulevard with the Better Market Street Project, join us for this evening, and learn about a creature that seems to be keeping up in this human-altered landscape. And, add your two cents to this fascinating convergence of city coexistence. Lepidopterists and artists Amber Hasselbring and Liam O'Brien will "tell the tale of a swallow-tail" and propose novel ideas of connecting our two species."
Liam O'Brien is an illustrator, lepidopterist and conservationist. In his former life, Liam was a stage actor and in 1996 he was hired to understudy Prior in Angels in America at A.C.T. At the time he was living off the Dubose Triangle and a Western Tiger Swallowtail flew into his yard. He watched it for a long time – not knowing that his life had just made a giant shift in a new direction. He joined the Lepidopterists' Society that year and started traveling around the country, keeping an intense field journal. He would paint or photograph a location and then illustrate the butterflies and moths that flew there. In 2007 he decided to see what was flying in San Francisco and has visited every vacant lot, every park, every open space, even the islands in search of things on the wing.
Mysterious Marbled Murrelets
Speaker: Portia Halbert, California State Parks Environmental Scientist
Thursday, June 12, 2014, 7:00 pm
Saturday, June 14th - Dawn Marbled Murrelet Survey – reservations only.
Discover the elusive, endangered Marbled Murrelet, which lives most of its life at sea, but nests only in old-growth. The story begins with how this mysterious bird was "re-discovered" following a winter storm at Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the early 1970s. Learn about marbled murrelet habitat, life cycle and the efforts underway to prevent its extinction in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Portia Halbert is an Environmental Scientist with the Santa Cruz District of California State Parks. For 13 years she has been part of a resource management team who works to manage parkland and restore habitat in the 70,000 acres of Parks in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties. Her experience is based in field work: restoration using heavy equipment for earthmoving, planting and maintaining large areas with native plants, refining the work on invasive exotic plants and incorporating early detection and rapid response, and working with sensitive species such as the California red-legged frog and San Francisco garter snake. As a last and personal favorite, she is also a member the statewide burn crew, helping to reintroduce fire to the landscape.
The programs for additional meetings will be posted when available. (Topics subject to change.)