|A lone black wolf crosses the Lamar Valley|
Monday, December 31, 2012
Sunday, December 30, 2012
|Bighorn sheep climbing slopes high above the historic Roosevelt Arch of Yellowstone National Park|
Still, they are cautious. As the group of approximately 15 ewes and lambs moved across the slope, the first adult would check over the edge.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
|Dead Indian Pass, Wyoming|
This is part of a series of posts on wildlife observed in Yellowstone National Park in September 2012. To see more posts, select "Yellowstone" in the Sightings box in the right column.
|Wolf reconnoitering a pond in Yellowstone National Park.|
It was loping along at a good pace, crossed the road, and as I popped out of the car, it headed down a ravine.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
|Pronghorn antelope in Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park|
From the distance in September in Yellowstone National Park, I enjoyed spotting the white rumps of the pronghorn antelopes in the wide vistas of Lamar Valley. First I would see one white rump in the binoculars and then check for the oddly-shaped horns, head in profile and chest; then I would spot another white-rumped pronghorn; then many, even without the binocs.
Monday, December 24, 2012
|Coyote in Yellowstone National Park - collared and ear tagged|
Sunday, December 23, 2012
|A gray wolf in Yellowstone National Park showing the wolf's broad face and white hairs around the mouth.|
The Lion Hunter said, "Wolf. Get out!" and without thinking, I obeyed. I grabbed my binoculars and camera and walked along the top of the river bank. I didn't see anything but studied where the crowd of people were looking between the pine branches. Then I saw movement on the other side of the river and suddenly I was looking at my first wolf ever. Its fur was streaked with white but somehow it looked young to me.
|Yellowstone National Park - sky, land, water. life.|
This summer, I took a trip to Yellowstone National Park where I was saw an extraordinary amount of wildlife - amazingly, we saw wolves four times. Under the guidance of a wildlife biologist friend, I learned about animal interactions in the Yellowstone environment. I've read about Yellowstone ecology and wolf reintroduction since then, but I've got a lot more to learn.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
The California mountain kingsnake has been elected by popular vote to be the Dipper Ranch snake featured on the 2012 Dipper Ranch walnut label. Thank you readers for your votes and delightful comments. I can see that you relish the diversity of snakes in our California coastal mountains as much as I do.
NEWS FLASH - I've seen two more snakes since November 18th when I predicted the California nightsnake would be my last 2012 snake sighting on the Dipper Ranch. The snakes should be tucked away in their winter beds by now, right? Until a series of intense storms shook things up in late November. At times, the rain was falling so hard that the slopes became super-saturated and slipped and oozed beneath themselves.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
The walnut crop at the Dipper Ranch is huge this year. The guest bedroom is crammed with English walnuts drying in trays, box lids, buckets, and bags while Mango and Cole guard the harvest from mice. Every year (well, almost every year), we pick a photo of a different Dipper Ranch snake for that year's walnut label. Vote for the snake to be featured this year and you may be the lucky person to whom I give a bag of shelled walnuts.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
When the days got short and the nights crisp, the animals came to the horse meadow. Mostly they came to eat the persimmons off the tree. Long retired to the meadow, the horse shared his only tree because he wanted to watch the visitors.
The raccoons came at night. Once when it was raining, they came during the day as if the raindrops hid their bandit ways. The mama raccoon led the parade with her back rolling up
Sunday, October 7, 2012
|Northern Pacific rattlesnake captured September 27, 2012 in backyard at Dipper Ranch.|
Rattle dipped in purple calligraphy ink.
Friday, September 28, 2012
|These are all photos I took while camping in Yellowstone and Tetons National Parks in September. Wildlife abounds.|
Today, while waiting for a budget meeting to start (yah, biologists gotta do that too), I learned the word zugunruhe - a fall nervousness as the tension to migrate builds up. I'm trying to behave, I'm trying to get along with people, but sometimes these human affairs are just soooo pedestrian in comparison to predators and the dissolution of rocks and I want to fly away. Now I am wondering if the swallows collecting by the thousands on the telephone wires on the Dipper Ranch ridgelines are making snotty little comments to each other and if that rattlesnake that buzzed me in the backyard two nights ago is just suffering from too much late summer fat accumulation. Hah, I trapped that rattlesnake in a bucket with a locking lid! It is not a monster like The Roper has in East Bay but the largest I have seen on the Dipper Ranch, so it may take a few days before I work up the courage to move it far away from the house. Rattle, rattle, write, read, write, please do not disturb me with your politics.
The Bay Area Tracking Club visited the Dipper Ranch on September 9, 2012. With about 20 people attending, we set off on a dirt road towards the Newt Pond and the Newt Spring to look for animal sign.
There were lots of deer tracks and some coyote and bird tracks, and we found two types of hairs caught on a strand of a barbwire fence about 8 inches above the ground. Coyote and a high-jumping rabbit, coyote dragging rabbit under the fence?
|Curious trackers examine the evidence.|
Sunday, September 23, 2012
|Vultures checking out the new cattle trough.|
So that got me thinking about two particular water sources at the Dipper Ranch this summer. One is a spring that leaks out of a cut bank. Usually, this has a bathtub size pool beneath it but with the reduced amount of rainfall this winter, the spring is barely dripping. By late August, the pool was just mud. So I dug a series of small pools beneath it to provide summer water for the wildlife, and put up a wildlife camera. Visiting this spring pool seems to be a family affair.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
|House finch nestlings growing rapidly and waiting for more food.|
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Thursday, August 23, 2012
|Large tracks on Windy Hill Open Space Preserve|
(no longer sure whether these are mountain lion or not, see comments)
Sunday, August 19, 2012
|You look into the Djerassi forest and there is a sprite looking back at you.|
Or is this your forest reflection?
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve to check on the Brandt's cormorants. I was tickled to see the cormorants still squatting on Guillemot Island.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
|Male Brandt's cormorant in breeding display - head tipped back over back, distinct bright blue gular pouch inflated, wings fluttering, tail cocked.|
I've toured the grassy hills of Palo Corona Regional Park above this section of the coast with fellow ecologists, and pulled ice plant at Garrapata State Park to the south, but never had I witnessed this rough and jagged shore with numerous small coves and changing vistas. Coastal California has so many beautiful places, it's hard to keep them all straight. The big clouds of a storm front were blowing in over the ocean and making large waves, so it looked like it was going to be a day of photographing white spray and aquamarine droplets flung at the rugged rocks. Except I got distracted by nature which tends to happen to me at nature photography workshops.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Monday, May 21, 2012
lunar eclipse in December 2011, I invited myself on a trip he was planning for the May 20, 2012 solar eclipse.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Go now. Go anywhere in the Santa Cruz Mountains now to hike in the fresh air and catch the spring wildflower bloom because it is moving fast. We had lower than average rainfall this winter, so the fields are not heavy with flowers. Still, there is a good variety of colors and shapes to enjoy, just more widely spaced apart.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
What does it mean when people leave dead snakes on your desk? It was only a 4-inch long nightsnake, its death a mystery to the finder, but why leave it on my desk? There is no in-box in my cubicle that says, "Leave all manner of crumbled flowers, mushy weeds, bugs and dead animals here."
Ok, I have eccentric friends and I share their nature geek reputation. Still, geek-to-geek, shouldn't one remember that fellow biologists are often out of the office for days at a time, and even a small snake will get smelly after a few days when it is dead? I have forgiven the geek in question because she really wanted to confirm this was one of the rarely seen nightsnakes, and she has pulled me out of many a pickle. And the petri dish coffin was a nice touch. How does your nature geek club keep things interesting?
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Monday, April 30, 2012
|Discover trails - Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve|
Here is a list of places I recommend for wildflower viewing in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, primarily in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties with a few farther locations added at the end. Edgewood Park, Coyote Lake, Santa Teresa, and Russian Ridge are particularly recommended through May.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
|Welcome back. Ash-throated flycatchers fly up to the Western US to nest in cavities, often in manmade structures like fenceposts and telephone poles.|
Saturday morning when I heard a familiar chirp-trill from the maples trees, I popped out of bed and ran around the house announcing, "The ash-throated flycatchers are back! All the way from Costa Rica! Get up, get up! Greet the arrival of spring!" Like a pesky dog, I was sent outside where the flycatchers entertained me by chasing each other at high speeds around the farmyard with loud "weet" calls and flashing of tail feathers.
Saturday, March 31, 2012
|Three reasons to slow down on Page Mill Road - sharp curves, bicyclists on the road, and wildflowers.|
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
|Seven bucks in formal antler attire, Dipper Ranch sunset, Christmas 2011|
The Columbian black-tailed buck grows and sheds its antlers every year. The antler calendar goes something like this:
Sunday, March 4, 2012
|Slender hair grass (Deschampsia elongata) with green seedheads in May|
Friday, February 17, 2012
|Male coyote in front, female coyote in back.|
|Smaller male on left, female in center, larger male on right.|
Monday, February 13, 2012
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
I've been invited to lead a storytelling evening:
The Coyote Brush Highway
South Skyline Association General Meeting
South Skyline Association General Meeting
Friday, January 27, 2012, 7:00 pm
Saratoga Summit Fire Station
"Mountain resident and biologist, Cindy Roessler, will tell a story and share photos about her recent encounters with a family of coyotes on the Dipper Ranch in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Coyote (aka the Trickster, the Western Songdog and many other names) inspires stories of wonder, frustration and imagination. Bring your coyote stories and let's share an evening of real tails and tall tales."
Monday, January 16, 2012
|Tracks at edge of Newt Pond, San Mateo Co, California, 12/29/2011|
Total width 3.8 cm, width of central drag mark 3 mm
footprints 1 cm wide x 1.5 cm long
Probably a track of the coast range newt
When it comes to interpreting animal sign, observe the where, when and size of the marks, and look around for other clues. By absorbing the nature of the site in addition to observing the actual marks, you can make a good guess at the behavior of the animal.