Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bowling for Salamanders

 A small creature uncovered

In celebration of yet another week of raining, I would like to share how I discovered rock bowling.  In the beginning, I wanted to start a vegetable garden but in the country you have to put up a deer fence to garden, and a deer fence requires somewhat level ground which only exists in my backyard under the buildings where plants won't grow, so I need to install a low rock wall to hold the leveled soil, and I don't want to go all suburban by buying fancy manufactured retaining wall blocks, so I have been combing the hills and dales of the Dipper Ranch for suitable garden wall rocks. I am sure others have discovered rock bowling although maybe not by such a circuitous route.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Three Fawn Sunset

Field of wildflowers at Russian Ridge

Fascinating end-of-May weather.  Still raining and cool on some days, bright sun with a bit of warmness on other days, and just plain cold (for us Californios) at night.  I'm racing between end-of-rainy-season and beginning-of-summer projects and am about to finish a run of 14 straight work days.  I squeeze in morning or afternoons off to enjoy the succulent air.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Still Raining

 Rain beetle with interesting orange-red combs on its antennae.

It's still raining gobs in May which is unusual for California.  I feel like I'm still in Florida with the gators and moss.  I'm not complaining.  To show my appreciation for this unusual supply of precipitation, I'll share some info on one of the less common rain critters before moving onto spring wildflowers.

Monday, May 17, 2010

First Fawn

I saw the first fawn this morning while washing dishes.  I noticed a group of six deer browsing in dense fog above the orchard.  One pair of ears barely cleared the tall grass.  When those ears passed into a clear spot, a small, white-spotted body revealed itself as connected.  One by one, 3 does and a yearling buck walked up to sniff the fawn and gently nudge it.  If they spent more than a few seconds near the small one, another doe would charge and chase them back a short distance.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Colors Brown

The answers to last week's quiz on whether the photo was a Northern Pacific rattlesnake or a Pacific gopher snake are below :

(click on photos for larger version or go to original Brown vs. Brown post)

Snake #1: gopher snake - sharp tail tip, glossy coloration.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Brown vs. Brown

As promised in last week's adventure with brown snakes, here is your snake quiz.  See if you can tell which of the following snakes are rattlesnakes and which are gopher snakes.  The photographs below are all from the Dipper Ranch of the central California coast and are therefore either Northern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus oreganus) or Pacific gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer catenifer).  You can click on each photo to see an enlarged version.

Snake #1

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Half a Century Outside

Today I was visited by the stag twice.  Once in the morning at my bedroom window with a wave of his velvety 2-prong antlers.  Once in the evening with a flash of his white butt nobly pooping below the springbox.  A coyote, the pale-faced one with paler eyes that I think of as a middle-aged dam, searched the pasture for breakfast as I drove up the drive.  A pair of bluebirds landed on the barbwire fence for a morning breather while I reluctantly opened the front gate.

I don't remember the daytime business hours.