Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Mountain Vernal Pool
After the backyard, mosquito-infested vernal pool met its doom, I took a drive out to see a real vernal pool in the Santa Ana mountains. The life of the pool is recorded in the number of days since it started to fill; the day I was there was day 61 and what is called the main pool was nearly at its full depth of 16 inches. It was a cold, cloudy day just before another big rainstorm, but there were still plenty of nature-seekers there willing to bundle up and walk out to the pool to see how the fairy shrimp were doing. As we passed by the areas where the (relative) depths were mysteriously obscured by marsh plants, my husband remarked "This way. Don't follow the lights." We saw no spooks or dead warriors; though you really should get down on your belly with you face pretty close to the water to see the amazing abundance of critters in the pool: I saw fairy shrimp, copepods, daphnea, gobs of springtails (identified as Isotoma viridis by ones wiser than me) on the water surface and the boardwalk, a planerian (free-living flatworm) doodling along the water's surface, and a beetle of some sort (Curculionidae family based on its snout and body shape/size) struggling to get back to dry land, sort of reminiscent of the spider caught wet-sided in the pool in my yard. It was hard to photograph the creatures that hung out deeper in the water, but here are a few views of the surface inhabitants. Oh, I also heard frogs but did not see them. All in all, very cool and well worth the visit.