Saturday, July 26, 2008

Quiet Pools and Lizards

It's been an embarrassingly long time since we've posted, yours truly had social and work obligations to attend to for the last two weekends and The Dinosaur was at Dryad Ranch alone. Although pictures were taken and activities were undertaken, alas, no posting.

Today we took our usual walk to the river, up around the Northwest Territory and thence to the Upper Spring. Our picnic lunch took place under our favorite Oregon Ash tree above a small pool of the Chowchilla, a tree the Dinosaur believes has familial ties to the bodhi tree, although neither one of us claims more than semi-enlightenment at best.

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.

Dino did some tidying up last week, removing some nasty mud wasp nests from behind the cushions of our favorite Adirondack chairs on the front porch and did a manly-man job of (how shall we say nicely) removing the threat of an inordinate number of black widows that had taken up residence in the garage. Praying Horse was extremely pleased that said chairs also received a nice coating of wood stain.

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

Luckily It Had Cooled Off by the Time We Got There

Unfortunately, yours truly was unable to attend the frolics at Dryad Ranch this past weekend, having other social obligations - talk about divided loyalties! However, one of us (The Dinosaur) was able to make the journey if for no other reason than to provide the sucrose solution as fuel for the aerial war games put on by the hummers. All the other bird feeders were appropriately filled with no hope at all that the offerings would last through the week. The Dinosaur noted that the minimum/maximum indicating thermometer had reached 46 C sometime during the week, but was relieved that he didn't have to sweat through that over the weekend, when it only got to 39.5 C. (Translating: the high was 114.8 F and it had cooled down to 103.1)

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

So Sad We Had to Leave for Now

After a perfectly glorious week here at Dryad Ranch with fabulous hikes and bird walks we had to leave to return to the Bay Area. Unfortunately, in spite of all our best intentions, we have failed once again to win the lottery or in some other manner become independently wealthy, necessitating our return to paying employment. We made it back to the Bay Area last night, after stopping off at our favorite roadside eatery - Andersen's Pea Soup in Santa Nella where we enjoyed a couple of yummy bowls of the aforementioned soup.

During the week, we did take one overnighter to the Kern River which was very enjoyable, especially the Audubon Society's Preserve. There's a full account of that trip here.

Yesterday, we took one final walk for the week to one of our favorite spots by a spring just where Lion Creek comes onto our property. It's near where the Cooper's Hawks are nesting and a great assortment of birds (and no doubt furfolks too) come down for drinks. The Nuthatch pictured in this post signed the guest book for us.
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