Friday, September 15, 2023

Garden Delights!

Steller's Jay Adult - Cyanocitta stelleri

Down in our garden the sunflowers are starting to go to seed, and the local wildlife is feasting on them! The Steller's Jays live here all year, and are quite acrobatic when eating sunflower seeds! They are also quite clever in their seed getting antics! They are a lot heavier than goldfinches, and can't perch on the smaller, thinner-stemmed sunflowers. I watched the one above repeatedly leap up about 4.5 feet to get the seeds of one particular sunflower head! Wow!

Lesser Goldfinch  (Male) - Carduelis psaltria

A few Lesser Goldfinches have recently arrived in our garden, and are foraging on the sunflower seed heads that the Chickarees haven't been able to harvest! I love their tiny little calls to each other. 

Lesser Goldfinch (Juvenile & Adult Male) - Carduelis psaltria

There has been a juvenile goldfinch that flutters and flutters its wings ever hopeful that its parents will feed it, even though it is full-sized and fully capable of feeding itself! Lesser Goldfinches usually have 2 broods a year, sometimes even three! This juvenile is probably from a second brood. These beautiful little birds have their babies later in the year than most songbirds.  They time the hatching, and subsequent fledging of their nestlings to match this time of year, when seeds are newly available.

Lesser Goldfinch (Juvenile & Adult Male) - Carduelis psaltria

When the temps get cooler, these little birds will migrate down to the foothills and valleys of California for the winter. It is so fun to watch these little birds (4.5" in length), the smallest of all goldfinches, feast in our garden!

Douglas Squirrel/Chickaree - Tamiasciurus douglasii

Our local Chickarees have been climbing the sunflowers, cutting off the entire seed heads, and then eating or running off with them!  What they don't eat right away, they store for winter. They're cutting LOTS of them off!

Douglas Squirrel/Chickaree carrying baby squirrel 
Tamiasciurus douglasii

Just yesterday evening we were sitting down in our garden enjoying the view, when I saw a Chickaree carrying something other than a sunflower head in its mouth!  I zoomed in with my camera and was totally shocked to find out that it was carrying a baby Chickaree!!! WOW!  You can see it's hind feet and tail in the above photo! It ran lickety-split along the phone line down the road and disappeared.  

Douglas Squirrel/Chickaree carrying baby squirrels
Tamiasciurus douglasii

Just a few minutes later it returned and went and got ANOTHER BABY CHICKAREE and ran down the road carrying it! WOW again!!!  Once again it returned in a few minutes, got ANOTHER BABY CHICKAREE and carried it down the road via the phone line!  Triple WOW!!!  

We have never seen this happen before and were wondering why it was moving its babies. My neighbor reminded us that PG&E had JUST cut down a huge dead Douglas Fir tree right near our garden, two days ago.  He thought that maybe the Chickaree had a nest in that tree and that's why the babies were being moved!!  That made sense to us.  I know where their new nest is and I'll carefully observe them and let you know how they get on!  So cool to see this unusual behavior!  I hope the babies make it!

Western Fence Lizard - Sceloporus occidentalis

Western Fence Lizards are the most commonly seen lizard in our garden. The following information about them is from from

"Males have blue markings on the sides of the belly edged in black, and two blue patches on the throat. Females have faint or absent blue markings on the belly. Males establish and defend a territory containing elevated perches where they can observe mates and potential rival males. Males defend their territory and try to attract females with head-bobbing and a push-up display that exposes the blue throat and ventral colors. Territories are ultimately defended by physical combat with other males. Courtship and copulation typically occurs from March to June. Egg laying occurs 2 - 4 weeks after copulation. Females dig small pits in loose damp soil where they lay 1 - 3 clutches of 3 - 17 eggs usually from May to July. Eggs hatch in about 60 days, usually from July to September."

Western Fence Lizard - Sceloporus occidentalis

I've been seeing lots of these little lizards in our garden. Most of them are only 2.5" long! I'm hesitant to try and catch them, because I don't want to stress them out! They are so camouflaged in the dry grasses and weeds! These little ones won't be full-sized till next Spring.

Western Fence Lizard (male) - Sceloporus occidentalis

Soon, cool temperatures will cause these lizards to bury themselves under the decaying leaves on the forest floor, where they will spend the winter in a state of torpor.

Sierra Alligator Lizard - Elgaria coerulea palmeri

I saw this Sierra Alligator Lizard in my garden this week. It kept perfectly still once it saw me, and was so camouflaged it was difficult to see! The following information about this lizard is from

"Sierra Alligator Lizards have large scales, a long alligator-like snout, light-colored eyes, and a longitudinal fold on the lower sides of the body. They can be fairly large in size. Active during daylight, they are frequently seen moving on the ground, and occasionally up in bushes. Alligator lizards do not typically bask in the sun out in the open or on top of a rock like many other lizard species. There's not much difference in appearance between the male and female Alligator Lizards. Eggs are usually laid between May and June, and hatch during late summer and early fall. Females lay two clutches of eggs per year, often in decaying wood or plant matter to keep them warm. Females will guard the eggs until they hatch. They eat small arthropods, slugs, lizards, small mammals, and occasionally young birds and eggs."

Coral-bellied Ringneck Snake - Diadophus punctatus pulchellus

This beautiful Coral-bellied Ringneck Snake surprised us in our garden!  It was quite long, about two feet in length!  I haven't seen any of these snakes in quite a while, so it was a delight to find one. It was quite a beauty! The following information about them is from

"Prefers moist habitats, including wet meadows, rocky hillsides, gardens, farmland, grassland, chaparral, mixed coniferous forests, woodlands. Secretive - usually found under the cover of rocks, wood, bark, boards and other surface debris, but occasionally seen moving on the surface on cloudy days, at dusk, or at night. Eats small salamanders, tadpoles, small frogs, small snakes, lizards, worms, slugs, and insects. The mild venom may help to incapacitate prey. Females are oviparous, laying eggs in the summer, sometimes in a communal nest."

Mylitta Crescent - Common Checkered Skipper - Gray Hairstreak
 Phycoides mylittaPyrgus communis -Strymon melinus

There are still LOTS of butterflies in our garden. Lately it seems that there are a lot of little ones that are less than an inch wide (pictured above)!

Cabbage White - Monarch - Fritillary
Pieris rapae - Danus plexippus - Speyeria sp.

There are also lots of regular-sized butterflies, including several Monarchs!

Stonefly Adult (species unknown) - Common Green Darner Dragonfly
order Plecoptera - Anax junius

I came across this adult Stonefly sunning in our garden!  What a surprise!
Stonefly nymphs (not pictured) will live underwater for 1 to 4 years, depending on the species. They prefer running rivers and streams, not lakes and ponds. They feed on algae, detritus, and plant materials under water. When their nymphal stages end, the nymphs will crawl out of the water onto rocks, their exoskeletons will dry out and crack open, the adult (pictured above) will pull itself out of the exoskeleton, pump up its wings, dry out, and fly away! As adults they feed on nectar, as well as algae and lichens. The adults usually live for about a month, just long enough to mate and lay eggs!

Right now quite a few dragonflies are away from the river and flying over our neighborhood catching insects.  Perhaps the insect population on the river has diminished.  I just love their gigantic eyes!

What's happening in the Lakes Basin?

Check back next week for the answers to these questions and more!

Your questions and comments are greatly appreciated!
Please email me at

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Rain & Ripening Fruit

Steller's Jay in the Rain

Last Saturday, Sunday, and Monday it rained, for a total of 1.18"!  Yahoo!!! It was a real soaker, just like the rain we got a few weeks ago. It smelled heavenly, and everything feels renewed and refreshed! To me the fragrance is nature's camphor, but "petrichor" is the official name. Petrichor was coined by Australian scientists in 1964 to describe the unique, earthy smell associated with rain. It is caused by the water from the rain, along with certain compounds like ozone, geosmin, and plant oils. There's no other fragrance like it, and it's one of my absolute favorites! Fingers crossed that these rainstorms keep coming! 

Apples & Gnats

Ripening Fruit!

We have lots of domestic fruits growing in our neighborhood, including apples, pears, plums, persimmons, cherries, and grapes. There is also an abundance of thriving non-native Himalayan Black Berries. Because these domestic crops have been growing for close to a 100 years in our area, the native animals have become somewhat dependent on them.  

Last year, a late snow in the Spring caused an overall crop failure in our county, as well as many surrounding counties!  Native plants were also affected by the late snow, and even the Oaks were mainly barren of acorns last Fall. This was a considerable hardship for the local wildlife. In contrast, this year the domestic plants are all loaded with ripening fruit, and the native plants are making seeds and berries! This means that food is plentiful for our local wildlife once again! Yay!

Steller's Jay - Cyanocitta stelleri

This was a great year for apples! There are hundreds of them on the local trees! Right now they are just starting to ripen, and lots of wild critters are eating them. Steller's Jays are opportunistic omnivores, that live here year-round. I was delighted to come across one pecking on an apple! 

Douglas Squirrel/Chickaree - Tamiasciurus douglasii

Our local Chickarees also live here year round. They eat a variety of native , leaves, flowers, fungi, seeds and berries. Every year they store seeds and seed-filled cones in scattered caches, to help survive the winter.  They do not hibernate, and remain active in the winter.  Apparently they enjoy eating the local domestic fruits as well!

Columbian Black-tailed Deer - Odecoileus hemionus columbianus

Columbian Black-tailed Deer eat a wide variety of shrubs, grasses, flowers and fruits.  This doe and her fawn were enjoying the fallen apples in one of our neighborhood orchards.

Unknown plum

There are three kinds of domestic plums in our neighborhood, and they're all delicious!  Two of them are small, about an inch wide and fat, but they're my favorite.  One is peachy in color, the other is dark purple. The skins are a tiny bit tart, but the flesh is juicy and sweet.  Lots of animals like to eat them!

Black-headed Grosbeak female eating unknown plums
Pheucticus melanocephalus

At this time of year many birds are in the process of switching from a diet of insects to a diet of fruits and berries. The colder weather has made the insects mostly inactive and hard to find, whereas many fruits have recently ripened.

Unknown plums

These purple plums are regular sized plums and the favorite of the local Black Bears.  A bear can just about eat a tree-full of plums in one evening!

Himalayan Blackberries - Rubus armeniacus

As their name implies, Himalayan Blackberries are not native but they are prolific in California!  Right now they are loaded with ripe berries that many critters feast on.

Columbian Black-tailed Deer - Odecoileus hemionus columbianus

Deer love blackberries, along with Raccoons, Skunks, Squirrels, Foxes, and Opossums to name a few!

American Robin - Turdus migratorius

Robins as well as many other birds are also feasting on the ripe berries.

Black Bear scat - Ursus americanus

Black Bears apparently eat thousands of black berries as evidenced by this large scat filled with blackberry seeds!

Monarch Butterfly - Danaus plexippus

What's going on with the local Butterflies?

Have any new birds arrived?

What's happening with the herptiles?

Check back next week for the answers to these questions and more!

Your questions and comments are greatly appreciated!
Please email me at

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Mammals of the Lakes Basin

Lodgepole Chipmunk (?) - Tamias speciosus

There are over 40 mammals that inhabit the Lakes Basin including;  Black Bear, Mule Deer, Mountain Lion, Bobcat, Coyote, Gray Fox, Pine Marten, River Otter, Weasel, Skunk, Raccoon, Marmot, Beaver, Mountain Beaver, Porcupine, Jackrabbit, Snowshoe Hare, Cottontail Rabbit, Pika, Flying Squirrel, Douglas Squirrel, Belding's Ground Squirrel, Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel, Chipmunk (5 kinds), Mole, Gopher, Rat (2 kinds), Mice (3 kinds), Vole (2 kinds), Shrew (2 kinds), and Bat (5 kinds)! 

I haven't even seen half of these mammals, for several reasons. Firstly, a lot of them are active at night or live underground. Secondly, they are usually very good at being quiet and undetected. Whenever I see a wild animal it is already looking at me and withdrawing from view. Thirdly, they aren't that numerous!  Below, is a short account of the mammals I have been lucky enough to photograph in the Lakes Basin!

The cute little Chipmunk above was eating some kind of seed right off the trail. It didn't seem disturbed by us at all, and stayed there until it was done eating! There are at least 5 different kinds of Chipmunks inhabiting the coniferous forests of the Lakes Basin. In the field they are very difficult to identify, as they are so close in coloration. I think the one pictured above might be a Lodgepole Chipmunk, and the one pictured below might be a Long-eared Chipmunk. They are both common in the Lakes Basin.

Long-eared Chipmunk (?) - Tamias quadrimaculatus

Chipmunks are primarily fruit, nut, and seed eaters, but will also eat fungi (primarily truffles), bird eggs, and insects (caterpillars, aphids, termites, ants etc.). They are known for climbing trees and shrubs to find food. They all have fur-lined internal cheek pouches for carrying nuts and seeds. They cache food for winter as they do not hibernate. They sleep most of the winter and awaken periodically to eat. Their nests maybe be in an underground burrow, or in cavities of trees, logs, stumps, or snags. 

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel - Spermophilus lateralis

 Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels are not as commonly seen as Chipmunks, neither are they related. Visually they are easily distinguished from Chipmunks, by the lack of stripes on their head. They also don't climb trees and shrubs to get seeds, but prefer to eat them on the ground. In addition to seeds, nuts, fruits, and fungi, they also eat grasses and leaves. Although not as much of an insect eater as a Chipmunk, they will eat them if they are easily available.  These squirrels hibernate in an underground burrow in the winter, and live off their stored body fat!

Douglas Squirrel/Chickaree - Tamiasciurus douglasii

Another noticeable squirrel is the Douglas Squirrel/Chickaree.  They often scold me loudly from trailside trees!  Conifer seeds are their main food, but they will also eat fruit, berries, seeds, fungi, bird eggs, flowers, and leaf buds. Douglas Squirrels/Chickarees do not hibernate in the winter! They store 100's of cones on the ground, in large caches for winter. They will dig down through the snow to eat the seeds in these stored cones. They do not live underground. Their nests are mainly found in hollow trees, or abandoned woodpecker cavities, 15'-20' above the ground. They will also sometimes build a ball or cup-shaped nest out of leaves and twigs, up in the branches of a tree! 

Yellow-bellied Marmot - Marmota flaviventris

I'm always thrilled when I see a Marmot, as they aren't that common.  Sometimes you can hear them emitting a loud repeated "chirp" call that indicates they are on alert. When frightened, Marmots increase the speed of these chirps into a series called a trill. The closer the danger, the shorter the call. They do this to warn other members of their colony that a possible predator is near. 

Yellow-bellied Marmots are the most common large rodent in the Sierra, and generally live underneath rocky talus slopes from 5,400' to 14,000' near vegetated meadows. They primarily eat plant material, insects, and bird eggs!  They store up fat for the winter, through which they hibernate underground. Most reside in underground colonies of about ten to twenty individuals, consisting of males, females, and their offspring. Their underground tunnels have many side passages, in which they raise their young, hibernate, and hide from predators. There is only one breeding season per year, which starts two weeks after they wake up from hibernation.

Columbian black-tailed Deer - Odocoileus hemionus columbianus

Surprisingly I rarely see deer in the Lakes Basin. They probably see me way before I see them, so it's always a delight when I spot some! The doe and fawn above were shedding their reddish summer coat and replacing it with a gray winter coat.  That's why they look so blotchy!

California Mule Deer - Odocoileus hemionus californicus

This buck had been sleeping when I came hiking down the rocky slope above him. I startled him and he startled me!  It was the first antlered buck I've ever seen in the Lakes Basin!  From his ears and his tail, he was identifiable as a California Mule Deer! He stared at me for some time, and then slowly ambled off into some brush! What a great sighting!

There are two kinds of Mule Deer in the Lakes Basin, the Columbian Black-tailed Deer and the California Mule Deer. The California Mule Deer have larger ears (20”-22” compared to 8”) than the Columbian Black-tailed Deer. Another way to determine which species you are seeing is to look at their tail. Columbian Black-tailed Deer have a more-or-less solid black tail. The California Mule Deer's tail is only black on the tip, sometimes with a thin strip of black running down the tail.

Black Bear - Ursus americanus

This bear wasn't as close as it looks!  Due to my great camera and its 2,000 mm zoom lens, I was able to get close from a distance!  I don't know if it was male or female. There weren't any cubs accompanying this bear so maybe it was a male. I watched it forage on the green plants for several minutes before I left it to its afternoon meal! Another great sighting!

Bears are omnivores, but mainly eat insects, grubs, fruit, berries, roots, twigs, buds, honey, and tree cambium. Occasionally they will eat small to medium-sized mammals and carrion. They range in size from3'-3'5'' in height, 4'6"-6'2" in length, and 203lbs.-587lbs. in weight. Adults can run up to 30 mph, and are powerful swimmers and climbers! Here in the Lakes Basin, Black Bears don't truly hibernate.  They build up fat to live off of in the winter, and spend most of their time sleeping, but may become active if the weather is unusually warm.

Fireweed - Giant Red Paintbrush - Western Eupatorium
Chamerion angustifolium - Castilleja miniata - Ageratina occidentalis

Late Bloomers!

The meadows and dry areas are still in bloom with thousands of flowers in the Lakes Basin! Gone are the Leopard Lilies and Buttercups, but many other beautiful flowers have taken their place!  Get out there and enjoy them while you can!

Goldenaster - Scarlet Gilia - Arrowleaf Groundsel
 Aster breweri - Ipomopsis aggregata - Senecio triangularis

Oregon Sidalcea - Slender Penstemon - Horsemint
 Sidalcea oregana - Penstemon gracilentus -Agastache urticifolia

Yarrow - Cow Parsnip - Brewer's Angelica
 Achillea millefolium - Heracleum maximum - Angelica breweri

Last Light on the Sierra Buttes - 8/16/23

Where are the snakes and lizards?

Where are the River Otters?

Check back next week for the answers to these questions and more!

Your questions and comments are greatly appreciated!
Please email me at

Friday, August 25, 2023

A Day on the North Yuba River!

North Yuba River - 8/23/23

This week I finally spent a day on the North Yuba River that runs through our neighborhood.  It's been a while since I had the time to linger on the river.  It is such a beautiful river, clear glass-green in color, running over miles and miles of water-sculpted bedrock and river rocks, bordered by willows, grasses, and giant-leaved Indian Rhubarb, surrounded by conifer covered ridges, and filled with wildlife of all types!

For several years there has been a dead tree trunk in the river, down-river from the bridge. In the high water of last winter it got washed downriver and ended up on top of this big bedrock boulder! I've seen Canada Geese on this rock, as well as Spotted Sandpipers, and Black Phoebes.  River Otters are occasionally present here, as the water is deep and trout are sometimes abundant. Almost daily in the summer, Common Mergansers swim by with their ducklings.  Kingfishers and Ospreys often fly overhead.  It is just one of the many magical spots on the North Yuba River and it has been our swimming hole for 30+ years! We affectionately call it "Big Rock"!

Cooper's Hawk - Accipiter cooperii

River Birds

On the morning of my day on the river, I was astounded to see a Cooper's Hawk land on the dead tree trunk perched on Big Rock! WOW! It actually stayed on the log for 20 seconds, looking all around before it took off!  I've never seen one on the river before. Cooper's Hawks are uncommon and mainly live in dense forests, but can also be found in open fields. Their main food is other large birds such as doves, pigeons and robins. They will also prey on squirrels, rabbits, mice and reptiles. 

Cooper's Hawk - Accipiter cooperii

They can readily pursue prey through dense thickets or forests. Their short wings and rudder-like tail makes them able to make quick, sharp turns. They grab prey with their feet, and will drown or squeeze them to death! They can see 2-3 times farther than humans! It's a rare event that a Cooper's Hawk doesn't catch its prey, unless a tree intervenes! Almost one fourth of the museum specimen Cooper's Hawks that have been examined, have breastbones that have healed fractures! These hawks are uncommonly seen in our area, although they live here year-round. How lucky to see this beautiful raptor on the river!

Osprey - Pandion haliateus

Lately there has been an Osprey on the river.  I love looking for it every day.  They are such handsome birds!

Their are many classifications (or subgroups) of raptors, such as accipiters, buteos, falcons, eagles, harriers, kites, ospreys, and owls. Ospreys are the only bird in their classification! They are unique among raptors in their hunting method of diving feet-first into water to capture fish. They are usually successful in 1 out of every 4 dives. No other raptors use this method of hunting. They also have small barbs on the pads of their feet to help grab slippery fish. After they have caught a fish and are back in the air, they maneuver the fish to face forward, using the fish’s streamlining to reduce aerodynamic drag. They then carry the captured fish to an elevated and prominent perch to be eaten. 99% of their diet is fish. They are large birds with a wingspan of 63", a length of 23", and a weight of 3.5lbs!!!

Common Merganser female & duckling - Mergus merganser

There's a nearby creek that feeds into the North Yuba.  It's usually cooler than the river, but there's a great swimming hole where they join.  I often go down in the late afternoon to jump in!  Right now it's a little chilly for me, about 58°, so I've been wading along the shore instead of swimming. To my delight I spotted a Common Merganser family near the shaded mouth of the creek!  I quickly hid in the willows and waited to see if they would come out into the river. 

Common Merganser female & ducklings - Mergus merganser

Within a few minutes, they came out of the creek and sped off downriver!  How fun! The average brood size of the Common Merganser is 9-12, but they have been known to have as many as 17 ducklings! This spring was probably a tough time to raise ducklings, with the river being fast, high, and cold.  So the survival rate of ducklings was probably low, or maybe the females didn't lay as many eggs.  For quite a while I thought that they weren't going to have any ducklings, so I'm happy to see this trio of ducklings with their mom! 

Within 1-2 days after the ducklings leave their nest, they are capable of swimming, diving, and feeding on their own! The mom will stay with them for approximately 2 months, warding off predators such as minks, otters, foxes, and herons! In the Fall, they will migrate to southern California or Arizona for the winter.

Belted Kingfisher (male) - Ceryle Alcyon

One of our year-round river residents, the Belted Kingfisher, is always a joy to see.  This once perched nearby and spent some time watching me!  Like the Osprey, Kingfishers mainly eat fish, usually small ones in the shallow water.  They will also eat crayfish and tadpoles. 

Great Blue Heron (adult) - Ardea herodius

Another year-round resident, the Great Blue Heron flew over as I lingered on the river.  These large Herons search for food day and night!  They are 46" in length, with a wingspan of 72"!!! In addition to fish, they eat crayfish, frogs, aquatic insects, amphibians, small mammals, and other birds! They are usually solitary except during breeding season. They are the only species of Heron seen above the foothills.

Willows and airborne seeds - Salix sp.

Along the river shore are thickets of willows.  Right now the last of their fluffy seeds are being blown off the bushes and into the air.  One bush probably produces a million seeds annually! Just lovely to watch!

Dragonfly Wing


At this time of year, there are also hundreds of dragonflies flying above the river!  At the end of the day they glint and flash in the sun, as they pursue and capture insect prey. I can watch them for hours!

Dragonflies are in the order "Odonata", which means "toothed ones"! Their sharply serrated mandibles earned them this name! They will catch an insect in the air, tear off its wings with their mandibles, and eat the prey while still flying! Dragonflies can move each of their wings independently and can fly in any direction, including sideways and backwards. They can also hover in one spot for a minute or more! Some dragonflies can fly fast, up to 18 mph! 

Autumn Meadowhawk - Flame Skimmer
Sympetrum vicinum - Libellula saturata

Most of the dragonflies above the river look coppery, red, or green in color.
Here are my guesses as to what they are!

Common Green Darner - Anax junius

Dragonfly eyes are huge, and have 30,000 facets and near 360 degree vision! They also see in color, usually up to 4x more colors than humans see!

Rain Bejeweled Dragonfly Wing

Rainbow Trout (fry) - Oncorhynchus mykiss irideus

Tiny River Critters

I don't fish, but I went looking for them in the North Yuba River this week! I found lots of tiny "fry" in the shallows, but no big trout.

Fish start as eggs which hatch into larvae. The larvae are not able to feed themselves, and carry a yolk-sac in their bellies which provides their nutrition. At this stage they are called "alevins". When they have developed to the point where they can feed themselves (mainly zooplankton), the fish are called "fry". When they develop scales and working fins they are called "fingerlings". This juvenile fingerling stage lasts until the fish is fully grown, sexually mature, and interacting with other adult fish.

Water Strider Nymphs - Adult Water Strider - Gerris sp.

I also found 100's of these tiny, wildly gyrating bugs on top of the water in a side pocket of the river! They are the nymphs of Water Striders which start out as eggs that hatch into nymphs. The nymphs have 5 instars (periods of growth) between molts. In about 60 to 70 days the nymphs become adults. As adults they prey on spiders and insects that land on the water, as well as nymphs of their own species! Birds are the main predators of the adults. To avoid predation the adults can fly away or dive under water!

Water Striders are known for their curious ability to "walk-on-water"! They are able to do this for a variety of reasons. They use the natural surface tension of water, along with a water-repellent body covered in LOTS of fine hairs (up to several thousand hairs per mm), as well as long thin legs that distribute their body weight over a large area. The round shadows they cast, from the tips of their legs, are caused by the dimples their feet create on the surface of the water!

 Scarlet Monkeyflower - Blazing Star
Mimulus cardinalis - Mentzelia laevicaulis 

These beautiful wildflowers are blooming right now among the dry river rocks. There aren't a lot of them, just a few clusters scattered here and there.  Such  beauty!

Dark storm clouds last Week

Stormy Weather!

We had stormy weather a week ago, with a total rainfall of .50"!! Yay! This brings our water-year total to 83.53"!!! Yahoo! It poured off and on for days!  A real SOAKER, just when we needed it. The forest was getting crispy! Additionally, this week the temperatures have lowered into the 80's and the nights are in the 50's, such a wonderful change in the weather! I hope the rainstorms keep coming, and keep the fire danger down.

One evening we decided to drive up to the Lakes Basin to see the clouds and rain and sunset skies.  It was gorgeous!  I'm not often up there at that time and it was such a delight!  On our way home we came upon this incredible rainbow,  that lasted for a few glorious minutes!  Such amazing beauty!

On another rainy afternoon in our neighborhood, this beautiful pastel rainbow appeared!  WOW!!!

Who's scat is that?

What's happening in the Lakes Basin?

Check back next week for the answers to these questions and more!

Your questions and comments are greatly appreciated!
Please email me at