The closest stop sign is over a mile away and the first traffic light is 5+ miles down the road. A visit to the grocery store is almost 30 miles round trip. It's quiet here; just the sound of toads and coyotes at night. It seems very still, but when you look close there's always something happening. Read on about a few things we've noticed over the past few years.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Show me a brave squirrel...

and I'll show you a dumb squirrel.  

Five baby squirrels played right below this small hawk on the gazebo. 
Click on the picture for a close up.
We watched them for about 10 minutes, the hawk never moved a muscle 
and he didn't take his eyes off them.  I hope he ate them all.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hybrid Wolves Attack and Kill Mini-Horse in Gavilan Hills

I copied this from the Press-Enterprise Newspaper

Hybrid Wolves Attack and Kill Mini-Horse on Ranch Near Riverside
Published: 4/15/2011  08:11 PM

Riverside County Animal Services officials are searching for one of two wolf-dog hybrids that killed and ate part of a miniature stallion in his corral at the Bar H Ranch near Lake Mathews on Thursday.

The two wolf-dogs were shot by a ranch hand about an hour after the attack, but one was able to escape, and animal officials have set a cage trap to capture it. A third wolf-dog hybrid also was seen in the area Friday.   All three appeared to have collars that lacked license tags. It was unclear whether they got out from their yard or were dumped near Lake Mathews, a rural area south of Riverside. Their owner has not been identified.
wolf-dog hybrid mauls mini-horse
Lynne Glazer Imagery/Special to The Press-Enterprise
A wolf-dog eats the miniature horse it killed. The 6-year-old, called Bojangles, had just been brought to the area.
Ranch owner Chris Herron said he had just brought the 6-year-old horse, named Bojangles, home from Oklahoma.   Minis can be 34-38 inches high at the shoulder.   "The poor little thing was chewed to death. It probably died of pain and shock," said Susan Garlinghouse, a veterinarian who was at the ranch Thursday. She boards horses there.

Lynne Glazer, an animal photographer, was also present when the attack was discovered. When she got to the corral, she said she saw one wolf-dog hybrid lounging near the corral and the other eating Bojangles.  The ranch hand shot the lounging dog to death and wounded the second. The injured dog fled, was tracked down and shot again, and then fled again, Glazer said.

Wolf-dog hybrids are dogs that have been bred with wolves or wolf mixes. Detractors describe them as being wild and unpredictable, but supporters say they are good around people.  Fifteen wolf-dog hybrids were involved in fatal attacks on people from 1979-1996, according to a report on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.  Glazer said one of the dogs approached her and sniffed her. That lack of fear of humans makes them dangerous, she said, especially to children who might not recognize the danger.  "They didn't object to our proximity to their kill," Glazer said Friday.

Garlinghouse, who owns the Montclair practice All Creatures Animal Hospital, definitively identified the animals Friday as wolf-dog hybrids. She called the practice of breeding a wild wolf and a domesticated dog "a very bad idea."   "Every wolf hybrid I have been associated with is a poorly adjusted, neurotic animal. They are forced into living in an environment that is against their genetic instincts," Garlinghouse said Friday.

Edye Marin, a Northern California wolf hybrid breeder, said Friday the animals don't deserve a bad reputation. Owners love wolf hybrids and she makes sure the ones she breeds are comfortable around people, Marin said. "My feedback from customers so far, 'This is the best animal I have ever owned. This is the smartest I have ever owned,'" Marin said. Still, she said, dogs by their nature are hunters, and owners must take responsibility.

Some states, such as California, prohibit first-generation -- direct offspring of a wolf and a dog -- hybrids. California allowed them by permit if they were born on or before Feb. 4, 1988, but it is unlikely any would still be alive today.  But California law does not require a permit for the offspring of first-generation hybrids, although local governments are allowed to require permits for the animals or prohibit them.
wolf-dog hybrids maul mini-horse
David Bauman/The Press-Enterprise
Ranch owner Chris Herron walks near an animal trap on his property. A third hybrid dog is believed to still be in the area.
Riverside County Animal Services spokesman John Welsh said that if the wolf-dog that attacked Bojangles were caught, the owner could be cited for violating leash laws and be required to pay impound fees.  If the wolf-dog were found to have previously attacked people or animals, it could be euthanized. Animal Services only performs necropsies on animals that attack humans, Welsh added. Welsh said he didn't have a report of previous problems with animals of this description. A neighbor of Herron, however, reported seeing two similar-looking dogs Wednesday that she thought were interested in eating her newborn foal.  Animal owners have a right to protect their property, Welsh said, so Herron's ranch hand won't be cited for shooting the wolf-dogs.

Herron had arranged a $5,000 trade to acquire Bojangles as a gift for his girlfriend, Blayne Chenoweth. It cost $1,500 in fuel to drive him back from Oklahoma, Herron said.  "It was just a little pet," he said. "I have miniature donkeys also, and I thought it was a nice little addition to the mini herd."   He said a bull he owned was killed by a predator about a year ago.  "I'm just going to start shooting everything that's out there," Herron said. "It might be a Labrador. I can't take the chance anymore."

Here kitty kitty kitty.....

I finally saw a bobcat! 
It ran across the road as I was driving home
and quickly disappeared into the brush. 

The bobcat is a preditor that's found all over North America in wooded areas, semi-desert, urban edges, and swamplands.   They are twice as big as a domestic cat.  Though the bobcat prefers rabbits, it will eat anything from bugs to rodents to deer. Prey depends on location and habitat, season, and abundance. Like most cats, the bobcat is territorial and largely solitary.   It marks its territory by deposits of urine/feces and claw marks.

Bobcats breed from winter into spring and have a gestation period of two months.  They generally begin breeding by their second summer.   A dominant male will travel with a female and mate with her several times during February and March. The pair may undertake a number of different behaviors, including bumping, chasing, and ambushing. During courtship, the otherwise silent bobcat may let out loud screams, hisses, or other sounds.

Bobcats remain reproductively active throughout their lives.  The female raises the young alone. One to six, but usually two to four, kittens are born in April or May, There may sometimes be a second litter, with births as late as September.  The young open their eyes by the ninth or tenth day. They start exploring their surroundings at four weeks and are weaned at about two months. Within about four months they begin to travel with their mother.  They will be hunting by themselves by fall of their first year and usually disperse shortly thereafter. Bobcats keep on the move from three hours before sunset until about midnight, and then again from before dawn until three hours after sunrise. Each night it will move from 2 to 7 miles along its habitual route!   In its territory the bobcat will have numerous places of shelter: usually a main den and several additional shelters on the outer edges of its range, such as hollow logs, brush piles, or under rock ledges. Its den smells strongly of the bobcat.   Bobcats have a healthy population.
Bobcats typically live to six or eight years of age, with a few reaching beyond ten. The longest they have been known to live is 16 years in the wild and 32 years in captivity. 

Here kitty kitty kitty.....

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Quail on the bush

Caught this male quail one afternoon on top of a bush. He was keeping a look out for danger. He was calling to his family that it was safe to come out and have a snack. He stood sentry while they ate.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Boulder in the creekbed

I'm a weirdo.  I like rocks.  I like the textures mother nature uses.  Click on the photo for a closer look.  This granite boulder is in our creekbed about a 100 ft from our front door.  As you can see, the bed is dry.  If I stand on the floor of the creekbed the boulder is roughly 7 ft high.  The grayish spots are actually a mint gray moss.  It turns greener in the summer.  Squirrels, bunnies, and birds climb all over the brush around this rock.  As I said, I'm a weirdo but I think this is cool to look at.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

April 6th is California Poppy Day

Springtime is for poppies
The poppy is the official state flower and was selected back in 1890.  The California poppy grows hardily in grassy and open areas from sea level to 6,500 feet altitude in the western US.   In addition to being planted for horticulture, revegetation, and highway beautification, it often colonizes along roadsides and other disturbed areas. It is drought-tolerant, self-seeding, and easy to grow in gardens.   The petals close at night or in cold, windy weather and open again the following morning, although they may remain closed in cloudy weather.  It's is a perennial and annual plant.

All the orange you see on this hill are poppy patches. 
A beautiful sight to wake up to on a spring morning.