Friday, October 14, 2011

Wildlife Takes A Bow

This Mountain Chorus Frog looks
like the ones we found
(Internet Photo)
We saw a good deal of wildlife in September!  Most surprising were the two frogs we found hopping around in the garage!  One of the silver-dollar sized creatures was hidden under a tarp by the door, the other was hoping around in the middle of the floor (disturbed from its hiding place by our activities).  

Little Brown Bat (Internet photo)

We also saw Little Brown Bats flying around under our deck where our wood pile will go, in a room that is soon to be our office, and out under the eaves of the house.  There are lots of bugs flying around the ranch, so these are very welcome visitors.

Night Hawk  (Internet photo)
About a dozen Night Hawks (small moth-eating birds) also flew overhead early one evening.  It is very rare to see Night Hawks at all, let alone in a large group.  Kim and I were lucky enough to see one nesting on the ground in Spring.  They nest among the rocks using only the bare ground.  I almost stepped on her before she finally moved!  They are small birds, about the size of a Sparrow Hawk, and very cute!

Most of the chipmunks and squirrels are very happy with our visits as we always put fruit and nuts out for them.  However, one little guy is not so thrilled as we permanently sealed the access he had to our house and stole his stash of nuts, dried mushrooms and dried dog food.  

Wood Rat (Internet photo)

In our quest to reclaim our living area, we also relocated a Wood Rat from our house.  This little gal had been stealing our food at night and nesting under the shower pan which she accessed via a closet. We have been trying to track her down for months, and finally nabbed her and took her a few miles away to live near one of the lakes in the area.  She should be very happy, and we will be happier too.  She was a cutie though!  Looked more like a chinchilla than a rat due to the furry tail and big ears.

The mice looked something like this!

Mice have also shown their cute little faces this trip.  We pulled down a section of drywall in the garage to determine what had caused the hole in the base of the wall, and out fell about a dozen little mice! Tiny little guys!  Probably still very young, but quite ambulatory.  They ran outside and dived under the foundation.  I can see that keeping rodents out of our things is going to be an ongoing battle.  You’ve got to admire their spunk!

Cows also visited the ranch this trip.  We always see them down at the base of the mountain where their owner lives, and occasionally wandering around the National Forest and the unfenced pine acreage that surrounds us.  However, this time they actually walked over a downed section of fence and came onto our property.  It is very odd to wake up and see a herd of cows munching on the weeds near your house!  My boy Cody was in fine form herding them back through the fence opening. It made his day! 

What we have been very surprised and disappointed by is how few birds we have seen.  There are lots of bugs, as I mentioned, but very few birds.  Aside from the Night Hawks, we have only seen a few Stellar Jays this trip.  Oh, there are the usual group of summer migrating pelicans, Canadian geese, and a variety of small water birds down the mountain by the lake and lots of California Quail in the fields near it, but not much up here at the ranch. Odd. 

I think my most delightful discovery was the little one foot long garter snake that visited us near the house.  S/he was beautiful and delicate with thin yellow racing stripes running down her black body.  You hardly ever see a snake up close, so this was a real treat!

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