Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Annual Birthday Greetings 2016

Two teenage pumas kicking up their heels at a lovely spring day.   
Last night, I had to climb through the tangled branches of a downed oak tree intertwined with poison oak vines to pick up the memory card from this wildlife camera. We tried to go around but there was poison oak everywhere, so finally I said, "I'm going through!"

What a fantastic surprise to find photos of these young pumas. Probably worth the risk of climbing through poison oak. And I hope the Extreme Tecnu poison oak scrub works. I will know tomorrow since it usually takes 48 hours for my body to react to this allergen.

A morning greeting - mountains, fog, native grasses and one of Lola's old-fashioned flowers   
I spent my birthday this year in three preserves. First with a large group of community college students in the busy Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve.  We saw lots of different types of plants (including boughs of poison oak conveniently posing next to California blackberry vines so I could explain the different 'leaves of three'), huge old California bay trees with buttressed trunks, a wild turkey tom sleeping behind a bush which we first thought was a black plastic bag of garbage, red-tailed hawks courting across the sky, and lots of grizzled ground squirrels. At first, I saw confused looks in some of the students' eyes. The teacher, my friend the Pixie, gently reminded me that English is a second language for many of these students. I struggled to explain the local ecology in simpler terms and then I saw some of the students' eyes light up and breathe in the magic of a diverse biological world. The students enthusiastically sang me Happy Birthday in their native languages - it was truly a touching moment of cultural sharing.

Next I went to Monte Bello Open Space Preserve where my fellow botanists were checking the progress of a volunteer project. I was late arriving but they had a birthday lunch for me and I was really hungry having skipped my breakfast to call people about the puma family. We talked about how to keep improving the annual Earth Day wildflower census.  I am proud to be on the great team of nerdy botanists at the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.

The start of the Ent trail at Thornewood Open Space Preserve   
Finally, I met a class of biology students from a local private university at Thornewood Open Space Preserve to talk about the strategies of natural land management. I was hoping to see Ewoks in the redwoods (re May the Fourth Be With You Day) but it wasn't foggy enough. I swear I have seen Ents in Thornewood on extremely foggy days. The university students had tougher questions but they too kicked up their heels under the spell of a redwood forest.

Spring enthusiasm - Indian paintbrush  
That's how it goes on a biologist's birthday. I hope you are frolicking in this wonderful spring.


  1. What a great birthday, congratulations!

  2. What a wonderful way to spend your birthday! Thanks for sharing with us.

  3. Cindy, the photograph at the beginning of the Ent Trail is magical. Wondering if you used some kind of filter for the edging effect. Maybe you can dress as an Ent for the wedding....seems fitting for a biologist!

    1. I used a post-process technique in Lightroom software called vignetting which creates the same effect as a physical filter on the camera.


Comments let me know to keep on sharing what's happening at the Dipper Ranch. You can either use an existing account or choose "Anonymous" by clicking the arrow after the "Comment As" box. Your comment will appear after a delay to allow screening of spam.