Sunday, June 21, 2009
Father's Day Hike
We took a spectacular hike today on Tomales Point, all the way to the very end. There were lots of people on the trail: young fathers, old fathers, fathers with daughters, fathers with sons, fathers with fathers, and also people who were not with their fathers. In the air there were pelicans, cormorants, an osprey, swifts, and lots of white crowned sparrows. On land there were elk and ladybugs and a small garter snake and this caterpillar, who was going somewhere in a hurry.
I've been trying to work out what it is using the Internet, since my wonderful butterfly book doesn't cover moths. It looks most like a Ranchman's Tiger Moth (Platyprepia virginalis) caterpillar, also known as a "woolly bear" caterpillar, a name that is applied to a lot of different species.
The sites that have the most photos don't have a lot of specific information about where the species is found, what they eat, etc. So I did more searches and found an article about the interaction of Platyprepia virginalis and another species that are very common on Lupinus arboreus. Well, guess what? Our entire hike was through a sea of Lupinus arboreus (yellow bush lupine).
That was a clue that maybe I was on the right track. Then I found a photo of an adult Platyprepia virginalis taken at Point Reyes. That pretty much clinched it.
It gave all of us an ecstatic feeling to walk all the way to the very tip of Tomales Point, down to where the rocks would toss us into the ocean if we walked any further. There were seals lounging on the rock shelves and pelicans flying around the tip at our eye level. My son kept saying he couldn't believe there was a place like this so close to San Francisco. To me it felt very far away, like another world.