Saturday, September 18, 2010

International Rock Flippin' Day

International Rock Flipping Day is today (September 12).  Go ahead,  flip a rock, record what you observe, and send info including photos, sketches, notes, sound effects to link at end of this post.  Make sure you are careful with the critters that live under rocks and put the rock back gently where you find it.  Good tips at link above.  I'll post whatever I find under rocks at the Dipper Ranch.
And here is what I found.  Mid-September in summer-dry California requires strategic thinking for rock flipping day.
 I was lazy and chose rocks in the farmyard:  by the buckeye tree where I found slender salamanders in March, holding down the tarp that a huge gopher snake slithered under in April, where the alligator lizard hid in May as if it knew I wouldn't mow the blue-eyed grass.  And I found no critters.

Finally I moved over to the shady maple trees and rolled an old garden edger.  A spider quickly scampered beneath his webbed tunnels into the earth and a bright green caterpillar was revealed.  As I set up my camera to shoot in the shadows, the caterpillar slowly started moving.  When the caterpillar got to the edge of the flipped rock and brushed against the webbing, the spider raced back up from its lair.  But it seemed disappointed to find just the caterpillar and went in hiding again.  I don't know why that spider didn't eat the itsy-bitsy juicy caterpillar.

While I was searching the ground, I found a gopher that could spell:

And a fence lizard that liked the sunny side of a rock:

Next year, I will plan ahead for rock-flipping day and either go down to Peter's Creek to flip stream rocks for damselfly larvae, or head to the exposed pile of rocks at the ridge top where I suspect the snakes find summertime shade.  To see the results from more successful international rock flippers, go to: 

Rock Flipping Day 2010 Update  (giant beach-living earwigs!)

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