Point Isabel in June 2019

White-lined Sphinx Moth larva
White-lined Sphinx Moth larva. Photo by Jane Kelly.

The events at Point Isabel in June demonstrated once again how fortunate we are to live among such a caring and knowledgeable environmental community.

At our first work party, EBCNPS Field Trip Leader Janet Gawthrop set her sights on a couple of large infestations of valerian (Valeriana officinalis) that we had not yet been able to remove. Janet dug down deeply into the soil, eradicating most of the weed and John Kenny followed up and finished the task. It was a relief for us to have it eliminated before it was out of control.

We spotted a beautiful bright green larva that none of us recognized so we sent the photo to Heath Bartosh of Nomad Ecology who referred us to BugGuide where we posted the photo with an inquiry. Within 20 minutes a contributor identified the little creature as a White-lined Sphinx Moth larva (Hyles lineata). Our volunteer, Karen Dabrusin, had referred us to naturalist and educator Charlotte Torgovitsky of the “not-for-profit, volunteer-powered nursery” Home Ground Habitats in Novato. Charlotte also identified the larva, highlighting the beauty and hummingbird-like behavior of the White-lined Sphinx Moth itself.

Sticky sand-spurrey
Sticky sand-spurrey. Photo by Jane Kelly.

At our second work party, John Kenny spotted a new (to us) plant alongside Hoffman Marsh. We reached out to Restoration Ecologist & Botanist Lech Naumovich who viewed our photos and confirmed the ID we had tentatively surmised as sticky sand-spurrey (Spergularia macrotheca). Based on its distribution, Lech says it has the most likely subspecific ID of Spergularia macrotheca var. macrotheca which shows a strong perennial form and has notably pink corollas that open in the afternoon/late pm. (We managed to photograph the blooms at 5pm one day.) Lech tells us this is a fantastic taxon with a very interesting distribution – coastal and inland sands, alike – and that it is a locally rare plant.

Point Isabel is in full bloom with many different farewell-to-spring (Clarkia) plants in flower amidst the California poppies (Eschscholzia californica), the golden deerweeds (Acmispon glaber) with their visiting bumblebees, and the narrow-leaf buckwheats (Eriogonum fasciculatum) just beginning to show their pink buds.

Our sincere thanks go to all the environmental community members who so generously share their knowledge and their time with us.

Many thanks also to the EBRPD for its steadfast support, to the City of Richmond for its speedy and consistent response to our requests for trash collection, and to all the stewards and volunteers for their dedicated habitat restoration work at multiple sites.

Jane and Tom Kelly