Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Stuck Calf

A maple tree in spring bud at the west corner of the holding pen.   
When Cowboy V delivered the new cattle in January, I was perplexed to see calves follow their mammas' swaying udders into the holding pen. In prior years, he brought out only stockers - weaned steers and heifers which double their size in the winter-spring grazing season before they move on to other ranches with more summer water. Why would he bring small calves to the Dipper Ranch where predators have sometimes taken down steers weighing over 500 pounds?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Mindego Gateway - A New Trailhead to Russian Ridge

A rainstorm at the Mindego Gateway parking lot   
There's a new kid in the neighborhood. Mindego Gateway is a new trailhead and parking lot in the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve. In addition to connecting with ten miles of existing trails to popular locations like Borel Hill and the Ancient Oaksthe Gateway will provide access to a new trail in Spring 2016 that will climb Mindego HillFor those who like short walks with gorgeous views, there is also a path from the new parking lot to a tiered deck.

While building the parking lot, we discovered hidden plants and animals, and clues that many others have touched this land before us.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Big Red Is Down

Hello, hello, are you dead yet?
The driveway and the front gate have a good view across the Dipper Ranch, so I always scan the property when I come and go. On May 18th, 2015, I left the Dipper Ranch to run an errand and all seemed right with the Dipper world.

When I returned four hours later and opened the front gate, I noticed the big red cow lying on her side in a far sunny corner of Pasture 2. With her head on the ground in the middle of the day, it didn't look right.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Listing Swallows

A male violet-green swallow lists to the side in the hot sun. July 4, 2014   
Swallows appear in large numbers at the Dipper Ranch from July through September. They have finished nesting and gather the tribe before they head south for their winter grounds.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Grassland Snakes of the Santa Cruz Mountains

Special guest at today's volunteer project    
Today at a volunteer project, I am making a lunchtime presentation about snakes commonly found in grasslands of our local Santa Cruz Mountains in the central coast of California.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Leprechaun Day

Female timema from oak tree, 3/14/15  
Oaks have spring flowers too. Yellow male catkins dangle from the tips of oak branches the better to release their pollen in a breeze. Oak flowers don't have decorative petals because they are wind-pollinated and have no need to attract insects.  While examining the catkins of a coast live oak, a tiny green critter jumped onto my hand.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Spring 2015 - Full Throttle Ahead

Just another photo of California poppy.
First poppy blooming this year at Dipper gate.
Does that look like a February sky?
Eschscholzia californica, 2/12/15.      
Since we haven't had a winter (sorry, Boston), it's kinda disingenuous to say that spring is early in California and moving quickly.

Monday, February 2, 2015


Red-bellied newts spend most of their lives underground and we know little about what they do there.   
The genetic results for the unusual population of red-bellied newts were in. Two newts from the newly discovered population in Santa Clara County were compared to forty newts from the main range in Sonoma, Mendocino, and Humboldt Counties. The populations were genetically indistinguishable from each other.

They were all the same. We were stunned.

This meant we could not determine if the previously unknown Stevens Creek newts were a naturally disjunct population or were introduced by humans from the northern range. These were surprising results for a salamander species.