|Female hairy woodpecker showing a black back with a white blaze down the middle and white checkering on her black wing feathers.|
Sunday, December 29, 2013
Friday, December 27, 2013
|An agile red-breasted sapsucker feasts on a ripe persimmon.|
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Saturday, November 30, 2013
|Forest sharp-tailed snake showing its ladder-striped underside, sharp-spined tail, orangish lateral stripe, blunt nose and overall small size.|
Snake video follows.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
|A top view of the forest sharp-tailed snake showing the red-brown line down each side, spine-tipped tail, and blunt nose.|
Sunday, November 3, 2013
|Not an advertisement for Stihl helmets, just a place to keep a small California mountain kingsnake safe while putting down the Stihl brushcutter. Amazing how the colors match.|
The dusky-footed woodrat who lives in the barn is pleased to know this. So are my co-workers and neighbors who are coming to harvest walnuts, watch the sun set, and potluck it.
Walnut harvest means it is time for the annual reader poll. From all the snakes seen at the Dipper Ranch this year, you get to vote on which one will be featured on the 2013 Dipper Ranch Walnuts label.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
|In the family of "goatsuckers", I first starting seeing these small birds hunkered down on the ground at night at the Dipper Ranch after we put a thick layer of gravel on the driveway.|
Those night critters.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Sunday, October 13, 2013
|Summer-dry brown in October. That's SoCal.|
Something for us ecologists to consider when we are restoring land to natural conditions. How do we convert abandoned agricultural fields, mining pits, eroded bluffs, dissolving roads, buried or channelized creeks to diverse, functioning, sustainable natural systems? In the future climate, are these areas best suited as forests, grasslands, chaparral or ephemeral streams? With climate change, there's no going back so what is the path forward?
Friday, October 4, 2013
|Gray fox scurrying off with prey. Are those floppy bunny ears hanging down?|
Sunday, September 29, 2013
|Bold white stripes framed by a pert beanie cap on one end and a fluffy white and black tail on the other end = striped skunk|
In the next few posts, I thought I would feature what the wildlife are wearing to the Newt Spring in the late summer and fall.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Tonight, I think I will share some photos of my favorite times with California herps to say my goodbye. So many scaly and slimy adventures of learning and delight.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
|Not much grows on a scree slope|
Photo by randomtruth.
Every day in our wildlife camera trapping workshop at the Sierra Nevada Field Campus, we ventured into the beautiful montane landscape of Yuba Pass to practice our skills in a new environment. One morning, workshop instructor Dr. Chris Wemmer led the class across the North Yuba River in search of the bushy-tailed woodrat (Neotoma cinerea). But first we had to climb the side of a mountain.
Sunday, September 15, 2013
|The bushy-tailed woodrat leaving its den in the scree slope at night.|
As one of my classmates in our trail camera workshop described, setting a camera is like walking onto an empty theatre stage. You've read the lines but now you must flesh out the play by imagining the future actors and scenery. With a new camera in hand and rocks underfoot, I needed to conjure up my next few steps. At the high elevation, I felt closer to the ground, the animal level, but the logistics of technology were slipping away.
Sunday, September 8, 2013
|A bushy-tailed woodrat eating mystery food in the Sierras.|
This photo was adjusted for exposure and sharpness.
Standing on a scree slope above 6700-foot Yuba Pass in the Sierra Nevada mountain range is a good place to take a mental leap. I wanted to photograph bushy-tailed woodrats (Neotoma cinerea) which den under the rocks but I was struggling to understand the new Bushnell HD Trophy camera. You would think that setting up trail cameras, aka as wildlife cameras, is all about the technology - the sensors, trigger, flash, and digital equipment. But you also need a feral imagination since you are not going to be there when the camera is triggered. You have to picture the animal moving in the landscape, often at night, and contrive a plan to steal a few moments of its life on a carefully set camera.
Monday, August 19, 2013
|A brush rabbit in a willow thicket at dusk.|
Photo taken with Moultrie M100 trail camera and post-processed (cropped, exposure and contrast adjusted).
I learned a lot at the workshop especially from my mistakes. What the heck, why not share my cam trap bloopers? In these next few posts, I will reveal the trials of a novice cam trapper and throw in my subjective reviews of a few commercial trail cameras with example photos (and maybe videos?).
First up is The Stubborn Brush Rabbit.
Monday, August 5, 2013
|A grey fox smiling at a tasty meal or the Flehman response?|
Sunday, July 28, 2013
|An unexpected calf on the Dipper Ranch in May|
In May, I found a small black calf on the ranch. How did that happen?
Thursday, July 25, 2013
|Black-tailed does at the water trough as seen through a window screen on an early summer morning.|
Sunday, July 7, 2013
|Sharp-tailed snake showing the black-white crossbars underneath and spine on the tip of its tail.|
Recognizing a distinct black-white pattern helped me respond quickly to a little snake that appeared in the yard in April. Was this the newly described forest sharp-tailed snake? I immediately abandoned my yardwork and spent the rest of the afternoon playing citizen scientist.
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
|A mountain lion journeys along the old stage coach road.|
The trusty old Recon camera, however, had a short series of very interesting photos taken three mornings earlier:
Monday, July 1, 2013
|To find a raccoon, be a raccoon|
Sunday, June 2, 2013
|Goodnight Mindego Hill. Goodnight land of San Francisco gartersnakes.|
Goodnight slowly diminishing hillsides of purple starthistle.
Weeding can be hard and weeds can be depressing. We need a coping mechanism. Every few days, I make sure to weed where I can watch the sun set. Recently while admiring a tangerine-blasted horizon, I found myself singing while tossing thistles into an overflowing wheelbarrow. From whence comes such joy? Weeding at sunset is like a prayer.
Saturday, June 1, 2013
|Grazed hillsides in late spring on the Dipper Ranch.|
Soon the cattle will be leaving at the end of their grazing season. Things will get quieter.
Here's what I am working on:
Friday, May 3, 2013
|A clear day in April on hills that often burn. View to the west from Walker Ridge, Lake County, California.|
Thursday, May 2, 2013
|Fresh sawdust chips on a trunk.|
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Monday, April 22, 2013
|This way or that way? As a large mammal, mountain lions have choices on where they can go but they are still blocked by roads and human conversion of natural lands.|
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
|Blue oaks (Quercus douglasii) have large gaps in their canopy through which you can see the stars. Growing only here, blue oaks are California natives.|
Saturday, April 13, 2013
|On a full-moon night, the moon rises at the same time the sun sets.|
Spring has arrived and it brings the changing of the herpetofauna guard. The lizards are coming out and bowing to the sun and the amphibians are finishing their aquatic breeding and returning to the dark, damp earth.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
|Santa Teresa County Park featuring California poppy and gypsum spring beauty|
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
|Comet PANSTARRS - thanks to sky-aware friends who point out these things.|
Sunday, March 3, 2013
|Nighttime silhouette in the wildlife camera at the cattle pen.|
In the middle of the night before the 4WD class, I woke suddenly. Everything was silent. There were no kids or cats jumping on the bed, so I looked out the window to check on Orion's progress. Under the foggy full moon, the backyard was blurred by swaying tree shadows. Then I saw an especially dark shadow slink in a diagonal path. Was that an animal moving or was I just sleepy?
Thursday, February 28, 2013
|Full moon through California buckeye tree at the Dipper Ranch, February 25, 2013|
I meant to photograph the full moon just as it was coming over Georgia's Ridge. I was inside getting ready by cleaning my best lens only to get distracted by amazing reflections of the cowboy light in the newly cleaned lens.
Monday, February 4, 2013
One afternoon in Yellowstone National Park I wanted to hike, but I was on my own and the Park Service strongly recommends that people hike in groups of three or more for safety in grizzly bear country. So I settled for a solitary stroll on the boardwalk at LeHardy Rapids on the Yellowstone River.
The boardwalk was too short to soothe my wanderlust, but it provided an excellent view of the rapids, so I settled onto the grizzly-free deck to watch the river noisily leap over and surge around rocks. Even here, in this little byway where the Yellowstone River regains its tumbling nature after leaving Yellowstone Lake, the park offered a rich opportunity to view wildlife. Out of a curtain of splashing bubbles, a bright orange bill appeared above a lowrider feathered back.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
|A lone wolf surveys a bison herd at Yellowstone National Park|