Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Snakes Coming Out of Hibernation

As usual, the time to leave the ranch came up sooner than we would have preferred on Sunday,and we got out a bit late. Of course, it was imperative before we left that we went to smell the Cecille Brunner rose that is amazingly fragrant right now and blooming near the back gate on the path to the compost barrel.
And we also had to spend some time identifying a little snake the Dinosaur found hiding in an overturned bucket. This process was a bit amusing because we were each looking at different guidebooks and one book called this snake a California Whipsnake and the other called it a Striped Racer. We went back and forth for a minute, pointing out markings until Dino finally asked what the Latin name in my book was. Oh. Same Latin name. Same species. Since whipsnakes seem to be a subset of racers, we'll go with Striped Racer. Supposedly, these snakes are very quick and aggressive, but this particular individual must have been very sleepy from having just woke up from his or her winter nap and stayed in the bucket very pleasantly posing.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Western Pond Turtles

Contrary to popular opinion, turtles can move quite quickly when they want to. When this couple got tired of me, they took a mere nanosecond to plop back into the water.

Other highlights this weekend:

We spotted a pair of golden eagles flying high, one of the things they do best.

Weeds can grow a lot in just a week, especially in the springtime.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Water Tank Nearing Completion

The Dinosaur has spent considerable hours recently getting the water tank project close to fruition. Last week, he rented a trencher and dug from the water tank location at the top of Ant Hill down to the pump house. Into the trench went the necessary conduit and pipe. He'll be back next week to complete this phase of the project. He also trenched close to the house for the fire hydrants which are the main point of doing the project, i.e. getting water to firefighters if the house is threatened.

Our front porch has been chosen by a house wren couple as an acceptable nesting spot. The Wrens join three house finch pairs under the eaves, making for quite the avian nursery. The male wren does a lot of singing. According to Sibley's Guide to Bird Life and Behavior, "All wrens are territorial, defending nesting territories through the breeding season, and non-migratory species defend all-purpose territories year-round. Vocalization is the wren's primary defense strategy." And here I thought he was singing because he was so happy it was another lovely spring morning. Well, I think they're cute anyway and I can't wait for the babies to show up.

Since I've taken a photo of this spider, I suppose now I'm going to have to attempt to figure out what kind it is. I took this picture looking at the spider from the rear, personally I think that the markings on it kind of look like a face. Dino claims that it says something about me, and not in a flattering way, that I see faces in spider butts.

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