Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Pile of Rattlesnakes

A pile of rattlesnakes warming up in the sun under the barn door on an early March day.  
We saw 18 snakes on the Dipper Ranch in 2015 despite the fourth year of drought compared to just 9 snakes in 2014. Rather than slam all the 2015 snake photos and stories into one post, I'll split them into shorter posts over the next week. At the end, you'll get to vote for your favorite snake which will go on the Dipper Ranch 2015 walnut label.

We've carefully moved Northern Pacific rattlesnakes away from the farmyard for many years, but we still have a lot to learn from them. The 2015 snake sightings began and ended with rattlesnakes, but 8 total rattlers isn't out of the range of prior years. The days and nights turned consistently warm early in 2015, and I knew the snake season was also starting early when I saw four rattlesnakes around the barn in early March. Did I mention that I think the abandoned barn is a winter den for rattlesnakes?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Climate Change Made Me Do It

A sapsucker stretches after its winter arrival at the Dipper Ranch orchard.
This one looks like a cross between the red-naped sapsucker and the red-breasted sapsucker.  
Me in October:
Hardly any walnuts have fallen on the ground at the Dipper Ranch and they're all pecked open by birds. There will be no walnut harvest party this year.  It must be the four-year drought. The walnut trees leafed out in June this year - two months late. It must be climate change.
 The Dipper Ranch walnut trees in December:
Here's a few thousand walnuts on the ground for you. Sorry, dropped them in their husks this year. And it's going to rain soon so you better pick them up before they mold. Isn't climate always changing?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Who Scrapes There?

The first time a bobcat goes by the camera in this time period is November 12 near first light.   
A few days after I posted the Puma Scrapes story, I took a hike with my neighbors. To celebrate each new year, we take a hike across our rural neighborhood, usually from one house to another. On this year's Cuppa Sugar Hike, we found a fresh scrape on a trail at the edge of a wooded area.

"What animal left this mark?" we wondered. Especially since the scrape was unusually shaped, more of a square than a rectangle, and with a long narrow scat at the back.

"No problem," I said, "I've got a wildlife camera mounted just uphill. We'll check which animal went by after the rain five days ago and then we'll know."