Tag Archives: California

Wild-Caught Escargot

***Warning – Some pictures and descriptions may be a bit graphic***

Over the last few weeks, I have successfully collected, prepared, and eaten my own escargots. Here in Southern California, we have an invasive snail known as the Milk Snail, genus Otala, imported from the Mediterranean. Since the climate here is very similar to Spain and North Africa, they took off and have been doing massive damage to agriculture. They are also one of the species used for human consumption.

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A Collection of Nature Pictures

Hi everybody!

I know I haven’t been updating as often as I would like, but here is a collection of the pictures I have taken recently, just to prove I’m still around. These pictures are all up on iNaturalist as well, for those of you who read my last post.

5-Black WidowsA male and a female Western Black Widow. The male is attempting to approach her to mate. In this species, cannibalism is rare, and males and females have been recorded living peacefully in the same nest.

6-Bird on SignA Western Bluebird sitting on a sign, looking very cute.

FatalThe last moments of a honeybee, caught by an Araneus orb weaver.

17-RacoonA juvenile common raccoon looking out from between the boulders of a local jetty.

5-California Ground SquirrelA California Ground Squirrel searching for food at the tide pools during low tide.

23-Blue-clawed HermitA Blue-Band Hermit Crab, in front of a Starburst Anemone in the La Jolla Tide Pools.

22-Shore CrabStriped Shore Crab waiting patiently for me to move on.

30-Harbor SealA wave coming in to wash over a group of waiting Harbor Seals.

31-Brown PelicanCalifornia Brown Pelicans have a way of soaring with stiff wings. They barely have to flap at all to keep airborne.

12-Great Blue HeronA Great Blue Heron being disagreeable.

22-Willet… in contrast to the cultured Western Willet.

30-Whimbrel 2A Whimbrel trying to blend in with the seaweed, and succeeding.

45-Marbled Godwit 4

A Marbled Godwit ending his photo-shoot.

I hope-you enjoy these shots, they’re a few of my favorites from the past couple of weeks.

~The Homesteading Hippy

Limpets: Revisited

I do not like to buy seafood, when it is so readily available and I’ve already paid an arm and a leg for a California fishing license. To that end, a couple posts ago, I talked about my first experiment cooking and eating limpets. I found out that the limpets were too chewy to cook whole. This time, I tried a different recipe that has worked well for whelks in the past. Continue reading

Coastal Prickly Pear: Opuntia Littoralis

Here’s another useful plant to be able to identify: the prickly pear cactus. There are many species of prickly pear (Opuntia) but the one most common around my area is the coastal species, Opuntia littoralis. Both the pads and the fruits of this species are edible, and easily available. Continue reading

Ice Plant: Hottentot Fig

One of the more noticeable plants in southern California is the Ice Plant, Carpobrotus edulis. It is also known as Hottentot Fig or Sour Fig. Ice Plants seem to grow everywhere here. They have beautiful large yellow flowers that catch the eye. Besides being pretty, the ice plant has a variety of uses.

1-FlowerThis is an ice plant flower. The blooms are large, two or more inches across, and I have seen them in yellow and pink.

2-Leaf Cross-sectionThe leaves are triangular and succulent. Because they are full of water, they are resistant to fires. One of the main landscaping uses of the ice plant is as a fire barrier. By planting a dense patch of ice plants, people can protect their houses from the wildfires that are so common here in the west.

4-Large PatchAs you can see, ice plants grow very densely, excluding other plants. This prevents other, more flammable plants from growing in the otherwise fireproof ice plant barrier. They also have short but strong roots that are used to prevent erosion. This makes them useful on slopes and dunes where erosion can cause serious damage. It was first imported to stabilize the ground around railroads. On the other hand, it is very heavy because it is full of water, and the weight has caused some slopes to collapse.

3-FruitsThe ice plant grows fat, succulent fruits after it blooms. They start off green, and ripen to yellow or even reddish.

5-FruitThe skin of ice plants is extremely astringent. I tasted it, and it made my mouth completely pucker up. The leaves are considered edible, but I would peel them first. I have read that chewing on the tip of a leaf (nearly all skin) is a remedy for sore throats. On the other hand, once you cut open a fruit…

6-Fruit Cross-sectionThe inside of the fruits is filled with a seedy pulp, that is very edible. You can see the comparison with figs clearly here. I couldn’t find a ripe fruit for the photos, but the flavor is sweet, tangy, and a bit salty since it grows by the coast. Quite tasty, and a good source of moisture in such a dry climate.

A word of warning: This plant can become invasive very easily. It was imported from South Africa, where it is native, to prevent erosion, and has quickly spread everywhere. If you grow it, take care that it does not spread out of your control.

~The Homesteading Hippy

Catching Lizards

I was trying to identify the lizard from my post a few days ago, and came across California’s laws regarding the catching of lizards. It falls under fishing regulations, and seemed fun, so I gave it a shot!  I drove out to a nearby park that allowed collecting, and learned how to operate a lizard noose. Check out this video to see me in action! Continue reading

What I’m Doing in California

So I’ve been showing off a bunch on the local wildlife in Southern California, but I think it’s high time that I explain exactly why I moved! I am trying to get a job working in animal husbandry at a public aquarium, and to get experience I am volunteering at the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla. Here are some pictures of what I’m doing. Continue reading

Southern California: First Nature Walk

I have been trying to locate a park close to where I live. I knew it was there, and have made several fruitless expeditions in search of it. Today, I stuck gold! Guajome County Park in Vista is a beautiful place to hike. Here are just a few of the things I saw during the four hours I was out. Continue reading

Backyard Medicine: Aloe

Of the medicinal plants, it seems that none is so well-known among the general public as Aloe vera. This species is a bit of a mystery, since it does not occur in the wild, and biologists have been unable to determine its origin. What we do know is that some 500 species of Aloe occur in the wild in Southern Africa, Madagascar, and Arabia. It is likely that Aloe vera is a hybrid of more than one of these wild species. Continue reading