Friday, December 30, 2011
Katie at Nature ID and I are having a conversation about animal sign on vegetation. I'm posting these photos for her and will followup later with details. I enjoy sharing info online with other nature bloggers - it's a great way to complement our learning. More photos at "Read More"
Saturday, December 17, 2011
meteorite showers since 1986, so I was determined to try harder this time. Over the next 12 hours, curiosity and photography once again brought me face-to-face with intimate details of nature, even extraterrestrial nature.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
|Fall morning showdown between bucks at the Newt Spring.|
The wonder of it all.
In a few days, the Dipper Ranch blog will reach 30,000 hits since May 2009 (2.5 years). I actually started blogging in October 2008 but I think I didn't rig up the simple version of Google Analytics until later. I am not sure how significant 30k hits is. I know that at least one blog I follow probably gets that many hits in a day, and many things on the internet are popular but not so useful. I guess I could look into it, but I would rather spend the time researching cool season grasses.
Monday, December 5, 2011
|Coyote running in its colorful winter coat|
Sunday, November 27, 2011
|Hot day on the Coyote Brush Highway for a coyote pup.|
Friday, November 25, 2011
|Three juvenile coyotes travel past the wildlife camera on The Coyote Brush Highway.|
Monday, October 31, 2011
|English walnuts still in their green husk.|
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
|Prescribed burn in Big Basin State Park brings smoke and colorful sunsets.|
Yesterday, thick fog came rolling through the coastside passes at 5 pm and suddenly it was an early dusk. We were disappointed because we were hoping to shoot a second night of brilliant sunset colors. This week the park staff is conducting a prescribed burn in the understory of Big Basin State Park. Although the smoke temporarily degrades the crisp fall air, it provides beneficial ecological changes to the park's redwood forest and makes for fantastic sunsets. The western horizon the night before was an hour-long show of many shades of orange, pink, red and purple.
Monday, October 10, 2011
|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.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
|Over a period of a few days, hundreds of swallows gather on the powerlines along Alpine Road. Then that group sets off on its next stage of migration, and another group starts collecting.|
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
|A lacy doily made out of petals of a cudweed|
Spilling out of the old pig pen, the bank on which the mysterious farmyard doilies appeared used to be a weedy jungle, a common problem around farm buildings where the soil gets enriched by animal waste. The pigs are long gone and the pen is falling down, but every year I spend a few sweaty days there pulling out manure-robust mustard and thistle plants.
Monday, September 12, 2011
|Harvest Moonrise 2011|
For about 2 weeks, I've been watching this large rattlesnake hang out around a vacated gopher hole in the orchard. On hot mornings, the snake exposed only one coil at the entrance of its hole. On cool and bright mornings, most of its body would be just outside the threshold soaking up the maximum amount of sun. It didn't seem to be going anywhere and I couldn't make up my mind about moving it, so I just watched instead. I talked to a local man who moves snakes for people and he suggested that perhaps it was shedding. On a large snake, it can take 2 weeks to shed its skin and part of that time, the snake will have a cloudy scale over its eyes which makes it vulnerable to predators, so the snake will often stay close to safe shelter. The first day I saw this snake, it had the typical dusty appearance of a rattlesnake, but recently its scales seemed shiny.
Friday, September 9, 2011
|Rock wren (Salpinctes obsoletus) at the pig pen.|
In August while admiring the lacy cudweed pillows behind the barn, I noticed a bird hopping in the speckled light of the pig pen. It was a plain-looking bird, just another LBJ (little brown job), except it had a distinct way of flitting from one object to the next.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
|Flowers, rocks and sea life at the edge of the continent.|
Pescadero State Beach and Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve are 15.7 miles south on Highway 1 from Half Moon Bay. On one side of the highway is the ocean, beach and sandy bluff. You can follow the winding edges of Pescadero Creek under the highway to trails along brackish and freshwater marshes, creekside forests and brushy habitat for more variety of plants and good birding. Docents with the San Mateo Coast Natural History Association lead hikes to Pescadero Marsh on the first Sunday of the month at 10 AM and the third Sunday of the month at 1 PM.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
|Northern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis oreganus) with frontal portion of body sticking out of hole and soaking up morning sun. Preggers?|
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
|Moonlight bouncing off fog banks between Butano Ridge and Long Ridge.|
Saturday, July 2, 2011
|A California mountain kingsnake in hand.|
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
|Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve - Woods Trail and Barlow Road|
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
|Handsome thighs of a California red-legged frog|
|Almaden Quicksilver County Park|
Trails wind through open stands of valley oak and blue oak trees with Chinese houses, farewell-to-spring and other colorfully-named wildflowers waving in dappled light, and California quails calling from mossy rocks and crumbled brick foundations.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
|Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve, Redwood City, California|
Edgewood Park is the most consistent and reliable place to see the spring wildflower display in the Santa Cruz Mountains and it can be easily reached from any city between San Francisco and San Jose by taking Edgewood Road east from Highway 280. Highway 280 is sometimes described as one of the most beautiful highways in the world, and in addition to the darkly forested slopes to the west often crowned by great banks of cascading fog, the bright patches of Edgewood wildflowers to the east are likewise visible from the highway each spring and subtly remind the speeding motorists that they are following the course of a major faultline between two giant sliding landforms.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
As you travel on Highway 101 between San Jose and Morgan Hill, you may have noticed bright patches of spring color on the hills to the east - this is Coyote Ridge. Serpentine rock, part of our unique California fault-shaped geology, forms Coyote Ridge and soil high in some minerals and low in plant nutrients. Some California plants have evolved to be tolerant of these conditions.
Poor soils often make for good wildflowers. Coyote Ridge supports a colorful spring bloom of wildflowers including more than a dozen rare species. It is also one of the few remaining habitats for the threatened bay checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha bayensis) which is dependent on a few small native plant species for adult nectar and caterpillar forage. Increased deposition of nitrogen from the air, probably primarily from automobile exhaust, is changing the unique soil conditions that create the serpentine grasslands and is allowing European annual grasses to spread on Coyote Ridge and outcompete the colorful native color that also supports the rare butterfly.
Friday, April 22, 2011
|On cloudy days, some flowers stay closed.|
Many generous local plant people have nominated their favorite hikes and allowed me to use their wonderful photographs which I will be sharing at the show. Over the next few weeks, I will be posting some of those photos here with more details on spring hikes, giving you tips on how to find and enjoy wildflowers and providing links to some of these great photographers. Go to the "Search This Blog" window in the middle of the right-hand column and enter "wildflowers" or "hikes" to find the updated posts about wildflower hikes. Please add your observations and check the comments for the most recent information.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
|Santa Cruz gartersnake cruising over yellow starthistle seedling.|
This subspecies has a whitish to lemon-yellow throat.
Draped over a yellow starthistle seedling, I saw the first snake of the year - a Santa Cruz aquatic garter snake. Sunning on the new section of the White Oaks Trail, this was probably a young-of-the-year snake only 8" long and 1/4" wide. Aquatic garter snakes are born in late August to mid-October.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Monday, March 7, 2011
|Cattle reflect at the Barn Pond, an ephemeral pond which appears for a few days after heavy and steady rain.|
How, they wonder, do frogs and newts know not to lay eggs in this pond,
while ducks make a paddle-visit.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Find a caption for each of the photos below by sorting out the smashed-together words at the end. All photos are plants and animals currently strutting their stuff in February on the Dipper Ranch. Click on a photo for a larger view.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
If you saw this on a drive down a quiet country road, what would you think?
Press "Post a Comment" below to share your thoughts.
----------------------------------------------- A Followup: ---------------------------------------------
A few days ago, I invited readers to share their thoughts about the above photo. Responses here and ones I otherwise received speculated this situation was the result of humans persecuting animals, a giant shrike or other predator taking advantage of a barbed wire fence, even witchcraft (see comment section below). Let me share the specific facts as I heard them, biological facts as I've learned them, and unmask this story of predators.
That is a bobcat carcass hanging on a barbed wire fence. I did not stage that photo. It is exactly how I found it.
Monday, January 31, 2011
|Rib bones still attached to the steer carcass with their surface shredded|
Sunday, January 23, 2011
|Two coyotes working the carcass on the night of Day 2.|
On Day 2 of my dead-steer observations, I watched from the backyard with binoculars as ravens landed on the carcass and frequently flew off again throughout the morning. By high noon, the cattle were peacefully grazing in the Golf Tee pasture near the carcass so I decided it was safe to check the wildlife camera. When I opened the sheep gate to the Golf Tee, the living cattle looked up and trotted out of view.
Please note: the remainder of this blog post contains graphic descriptions and photos of a carcass and predators feeding on it. Do not select "Read More" below if you do not want to see these. If your curiosity is greater than your gag reflex, press on.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
|Deer skull in the Bone Yard|
There's a field below the house I call the Bone Yard. On the edge of a dark oak forest, it is littered with a collection of white-grey bones old enough to have been separated and scattered into what I imagine are chewing piles. Bones of a large cow, several deer and even a coyote skull suggest that this is some type of wildlife 'killing zone'.
Please note: the remainder of this blog post contains some graphic descriptions and photos of a carcass. Do not select "Read More" below if you do not want to see these. If you are interested in amateur wildlife detective challenges, press on.