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.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Camera shy Egret

I looked out the window and caught this guy walking across my lawn. 
When I grabbed my camera he took off.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Only in California

Look closely.  Pine trees, cactus, and a palm tree all nestled together. 
No man made irrigation here, it's a natural phenom.   

Friday, June 24, 2011

another nest

Pulled this off the side of the house.  I waited until the babies flew the coupe.  It had been inhabited by my "tuxedo"  birds. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Coyote Den (north den)

Went for a walk a few days ago.  While talking and singing and making noise my nephew and I scared off 4 coyotes as we unknowingly approached their den.  We watched them run away and then inspected their home.   I was surprised to find it so close to our house.  The peak of the rock where you see the dark hole is the entry (about 3 ft high) and there's about 10 sq ft inside.  Plenty of room for some pups.  I suppose the coyotes have to live somewhere and this looks like as fine a den as any.    

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Wild purple plant

I don't know what kind of plant this is but it's growing wild at the abandoned
El Modena nursery.  I found a few dozen of these scattered about. 
They were 8 ft tall.  The blooms are beautiful.
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

snake eating lizard

 We found this at the gate.  I decided to let the snake live but to move it farther away from the house.  While using a rake to shoo the snake away, I found out that snakes find it difficult to move with prey in their mouth.  After more encouragement from me to move, the snake regurgitated the lizard and quickly slithered off.  Meanwhile the lizard lay still and bloody on the driveway.  I went to scoop up the fellow to toss him away and suddenly he moved.  I helped him to the grass and he recovered enough to run away. 
Can you imagine being half dead in a snakes mouth then to be pulled out and survive?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Turkey vulture

These birds are huge! The Turkey Vulture has a wing span of up to 6 feet and can weigh up to 5 lbs.  It’s easy to spot because it has a red featherless head.  This scavenger flies low to detect the gasses of decay.  They usually live to about 21 years.  They are well known for rarely flapping their wings instead relying on air currents to keep them circling. 

Like storks, the Turkey Vulture often defecates on its own legs, using the evaporation of the water in the feces or urine to cool itself.  It rarely, if ever, kills prey itself. The Turkey Vulture can be seen along roadsides feeding on road kill, or near bodies of water feeding on washed-up fish.  They avoid carcasses that have reached the point of putrefaction.  These birds roost in large community groups of several hundred on leafless trees (just like in cartoons) or on microwave towers.  They break away to forage for food independently during the day.  
They use caves during the breeding season to lay their eggs.  
There is little or no construction of a nest; eggs are laid on a bare surface. Females generally lay two eggs.  Both parents incubate, and the young hatch after 30 to 40 days.  Chicks are helpless at birth.  Both adults feed the chicks by regurgitating food for them, and care for them for about 10 weeks until the chicks are able to fledge. When adults are threatened while nesting they may flee, or they may regurgitate on the intruder, or even feign death.  Family groups remain together until the fall.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Snoozing bunny

I caught this bunny taking a snooze in the warm sun.  He was all stretched out like a lazy dog without a care in the world.   I made a noise when I snapped this picture and he jumped up and ran away.