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Archive for September, 2011

Coyotes: Heard or seen any of these song dogs lately?

Coyote howling on Mount Diablo (Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA)
coy howl2

I was just about to fall asleep last night at my home in Benicia, Calif., when I suddenly heard a chorus of coyotes going at it on the little hill across the canyon. Seems like there were 4-5 animals, yipping and yapping and howling their little hearts out. What a wonderful sound. A call to the clan to come gather and enjoy the night together. After they stopped howling, I drifted peacefully off to sleep.

Anybody else hearing coyotes near their homes these days? Please list the information below under “leave a comment.” Include your name, nearest cross streets to your house (where you heard the coyotes yapping) and city where you live. Please include any comments about what you were hearing and anything else you’d care to say. If you’ve seen any coyotes, list that information, approx. date, and nearest cross streets to the sighting (and city). I thought I’d gather all this information together from this impromptu little survey and try and get a feel for the coyote population around the San Francisco Bay Area (or wherever you are!). Let’s hear it! Thanks! /Gary

Coyote howling on Mount Diablo (Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA)
1coyote brian murphy wc

Posted on Thursday, September 29th, 2011
Under: coyotes, Coyotes howling | 16 Comments »

Halloween: Concord Mayor’s Mongrel Mash Pooch Parade costume contest is Oct. 30

Bugsy and Sherman are all dressed up for the Concord Mayor’s Mongrel Mash Pooch Parade costume contest for Halloween. (City of Concord)
1pooch parade city of concord

Once again this year, as I have for more years than I can remember, I will be a judge at the Concord Mayor’s Mongrel Mash Pooch Parade costume contest for Halloween on Oct. 30. Checkout the information below on this and other neat Halloween activities being put on by the City of Concord this year. I hope to see you and your dog there! It’s a LOT of fun! /Gary
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Posted on Wednesday, September 28th, 2011
Under: dogs, Halloween | No Comments »

Western pond turtle gets hooked by fisherman

Western pond turtle gets hooked on fishing. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1pond turtle and hook dave harper oakley

Sometimes fishermen accidentally hook more than they bargained for.

Let’s hope this unfortunate western pond turtle, photographed by Dave Harper of Oakley, California, loses this hook soon. Dave says he tried to catch it so he could remove the “extra hardware,” but it “was as quick as any I have seen.” /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, September 27th, 2011
Under: Turtles, Western pond turtle | 4 Comments »

Monarch butterfly hatching from chrysalis

Monarch butterfly hatching and crawling out from a chrysalis. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA.
1monarch2 dave harper oakley

Gary:
Thanks to Tina Swan for allowing me to tour her Monarch Butterfly Greenhouse near small world park in Pittsburg. I took several photos of the beautiful plants and butterflies. Sending a couple watching the birth of a butterfly. This butterfly habitat is educating all about monarch butterflies, and helps with producing more of the species. Thanks again Tina and Ed.
Dave Harper, Oakley, California

Dave:
Beautiful! One of my favorite butterflies. The butterfly lays eggs … which hatch into a caterpillar … which grows up and changes to a barrel-shaped chrysalis … which eventually hatches into a beautiful monarch butterfly. The whole process from egg to butterfly takes about 4 weeks. An amazing process don’t you think? /Gary

Monarch butterfly. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1monarch dare harper, oakley

Posted on Monday, September 26th, 2011
Under: Butterflies, Monarch butterfly | 5 Comments »

Rattlesnake & bicyclist: Sharing a drink on top of Mount Diablo

Rattlesnake at base of drinking fountain at top of Mount Diablo. Photo by Steven James, Walnut Creek, CA
1diablo rattlesnake steven james wc

Gary:
At the summit of Mount Diablo there’s a drinking fountain in the parking lot. When I ride my bike up there, I go immediately to the fountain to fill up my water bottle, putting my foot on the concrete base of the fountain as I operate the fountain. Today, as I was doing this and chatting with another cyclist, he backed up saying “Oh oh oh” and pointing to my foot, where 4-5 inches away was a coiled rattler sitting on top of the fountain base.

I backed away. Then I let the fountain run, producing a puddle. The snake slowly inclined to take a drink.  I think he was thirsty. The ranger up there said he is a regular who lives nearby.  Here’s a picture.
Steve James, Walnut Creek, California

Steve:
These days you always need to watch your step, even when you’re just getting a drink of water. /Gary

Posted on Friday, September 23rd, 2011
Under: Mount Diablo, Rattlesnake | No Comments »

Coyotes: It’s a good rodent year, which means healthy, well-fed coyotes

Healthy juvenile coyote. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1coyote dave harper oakley

Gary:
I came up on a small puppy coyote out on its own, and a month later caught up with a juvenile looking song dog which I believe is the same dog. Good to see such a healthy coyote late in the summer when many look rough. His biggest predator will be vehicles on Marsh Creek Road and Camino Diablo.
Dave Harper, Oakley, California

Dave:
With lots of rain earlier this year, followed of course by all the grass and other vegetation, this has been a good rodent year. And as we all know, when we have lots of rodents … we also have a lot of healthy-looking (well fed) coyotes. Unfortunately, as you say, many will fall prey to predatory cars along the above-named roads. It’s a jungle out there. /Gary

Posted on Thursday, September 22nd, 2011
Under: coyotes | No Comments »

Western fence lizards appear to have a ‘sweet tooth’

Western fence lizard eating a honey bee. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA.
1fence lizard & bee dave harper oakley

Gary:
This western fence lizard picture was from my backyard. Now I know why the honey bee population is dropping.
Dave Harper, Oakley, California

Dave:
I never would have figured that fence lizards had a “sweet tooth.” Honey bee … yum! /Gary

Posted on Wednesday, September 21st, 2011
Under: Western fence lizard | 1 Comment »

Great horned owls: Do they give a hoot?

Great horned owl giving a hoot from a treetop soap box. Photo by Marina Chainey, Richmond, CA
1great horned owl marina chainey, richmond

Gary:
The owls have begun their Fall dawn hooting meetings in our yard.  This one and its friend were greeting each other just “late” enough to give sufficient light for a few pictures (6:35 a.m.) on September 7.  This morning I watched them from 5:45 until 6:15 a.m. Are these greetings signaling the beginning of courting season, or are they just preamble?

Enjoying nature’s alarm clock,
Marina Chainey, Richmond, California

Marina:
In the last week or so, I’ve heard a few great horned owl hoots echoing across the canyon behind my house in Benicia, but not a lot.  It’s pretty early for great horned owls to start courting. That usually begins in October or November.

Male great horned owls go on occasional hooting binges throughout the year, so it’s sometimes hard to tell when the actual courting begins. My rule of thumb on this, when the males really start hooting up a storm, all night long, followed by lots of females hooting back at them, then it’s probably courting time. I don’t hear that happening yet. Anybody else out there in the San Francisco Bay Area hearing anything? /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, September 20th, 2011
Under: great horned owl | 4 Comments »

Bobcat kittens up a ‘tree’

Bobcat kittens up a high voltage power pole. Photo by Patti Jones, Janesville, CA
1bobcat kittens patti jones janesville ca

Gary:
These young bobcats were up the telephone pole in the early hours in Janesville, California. Everyone was stopping to check out the spectacular sight. Patti Jones wondered why all the cars were stopping in front of her house. She took the photos. The last kitten came down in the evening. The photos are wonderful.
Kate Robertson, Susanville, California

Kate:
Those three bobcat kittens were lucky they didn’t get zapped from those high voltage lines! Beautiful animals, aren’t they? /Gary

Bobcat kittens up a high voltage power pole. Photo by Patti Jones, Janesville, CA
1bobcat2kittens patti jones janesville ca

Posted on Monday, September 19th, 2011
Under: Bobcats | 2 Comments »

Wild turkeys come in many colors

Male wild turkey. Photo by Lloyd Hackel, Livermore, CA1wild turkey male lloyd hackel livermore

Gary:
Several years ago we had a turkey who frequented our neighborhood and yard in Livermore. This year it has turned into two birds. They seem to eat bugs and seed from the bird feeder and occasionally we will treat them with a handful of peanuts. The plumage on the two birds is different; that of one being more solid in color and the other having almost a zebra like striping. Is the solid colored one an immature male or are they both females?  I have enclosed some photos.
Lloyd Hackel, Livermore, California

Lloyd:
The wild turkey pictured above appears to be a male, and the one below is a female. They are probably a pair. There tends to be a lot of individual variation among these birds … but the males are usually more colorful than the drab females. Male heads are also brightly colored and have few feathers, while female heads are more of a drab blue/gray with some feathering. It all gets really obvious, of course, when the wild turkey males start to display! /Gary

Female wild turkey. Photo by Lloyd Hackel, Livermore, CA
1wild turkey female lloyd hackel livermore

Posted on Thursday, September 15th, 2011
Under: wild turkeys | 2 Comments »