|Southern alligator lizard (Elgaria multicarinata) sunning next to filaree seedlings.|
As with last year, filaree seedlings were the first to pop up after 3 dry months. The tunnels and dens of the underground must have been cold and wet because I saw quite a few reptiles basking in the open.
|With legs tucked tightly by its side, at first this southern alligator lizard looks like a snake with extra long jaws.|
|Two in three weeks is too many northern Pacific rattlesnakes (Crotalus oreganus) in the farmyard.|
In September, I was initially confused as to how many rattlesnakes I was dealing with. The rattler I was seeing in mid-September would bask with either just a coil or its head out of the hole, or would curl its entire body right at the entrance of the hole. Then I moved that rattler and there were no snakes in the orchard for a few days. But in late September, I was seeing a rattler at nearly the same location. Did the first one come back or was this another one perhaps attracted to the scent of the original one? This snake was acting differently, however, and would bask with its body curled under a clump of bunchgrass behind the hole and never revealed its rattle. Was this the same snake just exhibiting a range of behavior, or did different snakes have distinct basking behaviors?
Finally last Sunday, I found the rattler fat and content in the orchard's sun. I caught it easily with net and snake tongs, and I am fairly certain it was the same snake that had been roaming the barn at night. I am wondering if the brush rabbit, which usually hides in the barn but I haven't seen in the last few days, is what slowed this rattler down long enough for me to capture it.
|Long spider kites floating high overhead|
|Spider parachute covering more newly emerged filaree seedlings|
|Some ballooning spiders land on wild oat stems.|
As the air stilled in the late afternoon, I saw many of the spider kites snagged on trees, grass and fences. I poked through the landed webs looking for a spider pilot or egg case, but just got strings stuck to my fingers.
|Spider silk - strong and flexible, good properties for aerial migration of small passengers.|
|New arachnid home?|
|Early season precipitation will mean different changes in the Sierra Nevada mountain range where winter temperatures get much lower than at the coast.|
Laurence M. Klauber, 1982, Rattlesnakes, Their Habits, Life Histories, & Influence on Mankind, Abridged Edition.