Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
The Friday after Thanksgiving we worked off our meal by moving the oak logs toward the wood shed and hoo boy, wet green oak can be heavy, as I'm sure some of our neighbors can attest! We also moved some winches and other metal thingies - that's a technical term - to a new resting area close to our storage containers so Dino could even out the slope toward the house with the Kubota. Oak and heavy metal parts - great weightlifting workout!
Monday, November 24, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
On the slope just below the ranch house, Dino noticed this fungus. At some point, we'll have to look it up because he couldn't remember the name of it. It was a good foot across and sort of oozy. I took some closeups and ended up deleting them because of the ugh factor.
There was a huge gathering of blackbirds at the old schoolhouse on the other side of the river - at least a hundred or more of Brewer's and red-winged blackbirds along with starlings. They were making an amazing amount of noise so that we heard them long before we saw them.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Another shot of California farmland.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
We had our picnic lunch just below the mine near a deep pool of the river, we saw a turtle floating which of course hid itself as soon as I headed for the camera. Some day, my turtly friends! After we ate, we walked downstream for 100 yards or so through the dry riverbed - the river at this time of year is mostly underground with a few deep pools. Wow, the rocks through this part were fascinating and beautiful. We also saw some rocks that had what looked like tiny barnacles, and also some miniscule fresh water snail shells. The shell in this photo is perhaps 3 - 4 millimeters long.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
We had a nice picnic lunch by the river where there was a deep-ish pool and then Dino and I headed for a particular spot in the river where we know the ducks hang out. I was also hoping to see the turtle I scared off the week before while trying to get close enough for a picture. No turtles, but we spent a good half hour watching a large group of wood ducks swimming about. This was the closest we'd been to these ducks, which are very wary critters, but for some reason they decided not to fly off immediately as they usually do. We counted 27 of them. The males have really beautiful plumage and make the oddest sounds,not at all like what you would think of as a duck's typical quack quack. (Wood duck photo US Fish and Wildlife)
And finally, the following is so ridiculously off-topic, that I can't even dredge up any embarrassment about it. We just both were fascinated by Dolphin Rings:
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Saturday last, I got to feeling antsy and took off on a walk. I headed back up the same hill where I saw the wild pigs last week, thinking surely they would have moved on. They weren't at the top of that hill, and since I was a little bored with my route, instead of going straight back down the hill, I thought I could do a little cross country to the next hill over and walk up that one. Meanwhile, I knew of a good spring on the way where I might see some good birds so I headed for that. As I made my approach, and got up to about 50 feet away from the spring, I'll be darned if I didn't hear that same scary squealing that I did the week before. This time I saw the pig plain as day - it didn't like me much and took off downhill through the creek bed. I waited for my heart to stop pounding and caught my breath and pondered whether I wanted to continue with my plan or again make a retreat. I have to say that I had a feeling that there wasn't just the solitary pig, but I wasn't hearing or seeing any more. So I called out, "Hey is it safe to go down there? Are there any more pigs?" Instant boilup of pigs - maybe 8 or 9, all coming up out of the spring area. One of them started running in the wrong direction, i.e. toward me, so I waved it off - shoo shoo pig! What else could I do? Anyway, that tactic worked and they all went one way and I went the other.
I always thought that wild pigs were wily and wary and it was hard to get close to them. It isn't as if my approach is subtle - I just tromp along in my boots, rustling dry leaves and snapping branches, surely you would think they could hear me. I'm sure if I had had ill intent, they would be a million miles away. And yeeps, two weeks in a row!
I did continue my walk which only had one more eventful moment when I woke up a snoozy bobcat who had been taking a siesta under an oak tree.
When I got back from that excitement I had my lunch and watched several minutes of hijinks a la acorn woodpecker on the bird bath. There were three or four of them tussling and I grabbed the camera and got this shot.
More wildlife doings: some weeks ago, the Dinosaur found an empty Western Pond Turtle shell and brought it back to the house as a point of interest. Evidently, he put some saddle soap on it in the hopes of preserving the turtle leather. Lo and behold, waiting for us this weekend: evidence of coyote tampering. Guess they don't like soap.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
It is starting to bloom now, with small yellow blossoms appearing at the end of the stalk. It is very well adapted to the very dry conditions and seems to be one of the few plants that bloom this time of the year. In the photo below, pretty much everything in the meadow that has even the slightest appearance of green-ness (other than the tree leaves) is tar weed.
Some additional links to descriptions of tar weed:
Saturday, July 26, 2008
At the Upper Spring, when not meditating, er snoozing, we were rewarded by sightings of nuthatches, bushtits and this lovely couple: an oak titmouse and a sun-lazy lizard.
We walked to the tree that houses the Cooper's Hawk nest but it appears the hawks themselves have moved on. They were there two weeks ago but not since. However, the area around the nest tree is nicely coated with with a circle of splatterings that serve as a reminder of their presence. Now that we know that area is being used by these hawks, we will certainly remember to go back next year to see if the nest is reused.
The Saurus also cleaned out the house finch nest in this lantern. We believe they raised two broods in it this year, although we are still stumped as to how they actually managed to get inside. There were actually three other nests, two under the front porch eaves and the other on a big oak tree not far away.
Monday, July 14, 2008
In addition, rubber drip tubing was freshly provided for the epicures among the rodent population - apparently the ground squirrels and rabbits find this stuff not only palatable but scrumptious. We have a suspicion that some other critter may be attending the banquet, specifically a pack rat, as there is evidence of nest building using iris and oak leaves. We took steps to discourage additional construction, an activity only one of us thinks may actually work.
A coyote hopped the fence into the upper garden, feasting on the berries left behind from the recent manzanita massacre. The ants were busy the next day removing the evidence said coyote had left behind. Ew, poop-eating ants!
The Cooper's Hawks and a Sharp-Shinned Hawk have obviously been busy killing and eating a goodly number of the other birds at Dryad Ranch, based on feathers left behind and what appears to be a healthy juvenile population of the hawks. We have consistently been seeing the group of Cooper's youngsters on the approach to Upper Spring.
A young alligator lizard snuck around the side of the house and took off, among a springing horde of grasshoppers, as if running for cover from the hopping crew. The little guy measured at most 5 inches, head to tail.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Monday, June 30, 2008
We've been watching twin Chinook helicopters fly over the ranch many many times a day going back and forth to the Oliver fire, which Bill tells me is 65% contained now. The air is definitely better, with even some blue sky showing through this afternoon.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Wrentit photo in the public domain US Fish and Wildlife Service
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
We saw our first fish of the season in the river - little inch long minnow type jobbers. Also saw many butterflies and dragonflies and the ridiculous European bullfrogs which go "Eeeeek!" and jump in the river as you walk by.
While cleaning up under the eaves, we found a little two foot rattlesnake tucked up behind a pile of something - it was making its music. We watched it for a bit and then went off to inspect a tarantula that had also scared up out of somewhere. Usually the tarantulas don't come out of their hidey holes until the fall, so this one probably wasn't too thrilled.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
In other bird news, the ash-throated flycatchers have returned and are very busy catching things. Hopefully whatever grasshoppers may be around. We also saw a killdeer just off the road on our way out of the ranch as we were heading back to the Bay Area. This is the first killdeer we’ve seen around here, so it was exciting to be able to add a new name to our ranch list!
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Only one of us was able to attend this year (sob sob, I had to stay behind) but it’s always fun, if often hot and/or dusty. We get to visit with the neighbors, catch up from last year and of course – see all of our horse buddies also!
The horses will be gathered up again soon and will make a journey to the High Sierra, where they live at Muir Trail Ranch, the guest ranch run by the aforementioned neighbors (and also relatives!).
And now for some strictly Dryad Ranch updates:
A tree frog was discovered lurking in the shower over the weekend, and was duly and appropriately moved outdoors, where evidently it took off like a shot to more appropriately tree-froglike terrain, i.e. the trees. He may have been waiting for one of us to leave so he could use the shower enclosure as an echo chamber like some of the 50's do-wop groups purportedly did. That would have really impressed the target audience, but we're not sure how he would have met his groupies.
The wood ducks have successfully brought at least two broods of ducklings into the world this year, and boy are they cute! One pair has seven babies, and the other pair has three surviving ducklings. No photos unfortunately, because wood ducks are nothing if not wary.
A juvenile red-tailed hawk has been spotted on numerous occasions and is very vocal about activity under its purview.
The grasshopper population is unfortunately and infuriatingly well ahead of the protein eaters, like the lark sparrows, phoebes and wild turkeys. Shakes fist at the grasshoppers! Stay away from our garden!
Shockingly enough, the weeds continue to grow. On the agenda for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend: hand weeding the gardens.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
The gardens of course needed a great deal of attention with weeding and trimming being the order of the day. Right now, the roses are absolutely glorious and I think deserve an entire post of their own - we have well over 90 plants of many varieties - climbers, tea roses, standards - and many of them have started blooming now.
Monday, April 14, 2008
The mosquitoes have hatched, and I have a bite to prove it. The down side of spring!