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Archive for November, 2011

Coyotes are common throughout the Bay Area — day and night

This coyote likes to take little naps on top of hills. Photo by Marina Chainey, Richmond, CA
1coyote2 marina chainey richmond

I’ve known for years that coyotes have lived in nearby Wildcat Canyon Regional Park.  This year, however, I’ve observed them in daylight on several occasions. This one likes to take little naps on top of hills.  I even saw a pair of them traveling together last weekend!
Marina Chainey, Richmond, California
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Posted on Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
Under: coyotes, Coyotes howling | 2 Comments »

Kingsnake has a deadly copperhead for lunch

Speckled kingsnake swallowing a poisonous copperhead. Photo by Sheran Clark, Livermore, CA
1copperhead vs king2 sheran clark livermore

Earlier this year, I was visiting my family in DeSoto, Missouri. One afternoon, my grandson came into the house to tell us that there was a snake under the porch in the back of the house. He said he heard a rustling in the leaves, and when he checked, he saw a large snake.

By the time we all gathered around to see the snake we saw that the snake, a speckled kingsnake, had captured a copperhead by the neck and was beginning to strangle it.
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Posted on Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
Under: King snake | No Comments »

Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home …

Dragonfly eating ladybug. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1dragonfly ladybug dave harper oakley

Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home … or the dragonflies will get you!

I’m BACK! Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! /Gary

Posted on Monday, November 28th, 2011
Under: Dragonfly, Ladybugs | 1 Comment »

“Gobble, Gobble!” (Translation: “Have a Happy Veggie Thanksgiving!”)

“Happy (vegetarian) Thanksgiving!” Photo by Joe Oliver, Walnut Creek, CA
turkey oliver2

Dear readers:
I’m off on my usual Thanksgiving Vacation and will be back on Monday, Nov. 28.



Posted on Friday, November 18th, 2011
Under: Thanksgiving, wild turkeys | 3 Comments »

Check contents of box before discarding. There may be a cat in it.

Cat in the box. Photo by Ken Martin, Castro Valley, CA
1cat in box ken martin

I case you can’t read the instructions on the box in the above photo, they say:

“Attention: Please thoroughly check contents of box before discarding. Small or flat packages may have settled to the bottom during shipping.”

It doesn’t mention cats! The occupant of the box is our Bengal, “GB.”
Ken Martin, Castro Valley, California

You don’t have to worry about cats. They never settle to the bottom. /Gary

Posted on Wednesday, November 16th, 2011
Under: Cats | No Comments »

Red-tailed hawk harassing golden eagle

Red-tailed hawk dive-bombing golden eagle sitting on fence post. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1golden redtail2 dave harper oakley

Here’s a scene (two pictures) of an encounter between a golden eagle and a red-tailed hawk who happened upon the eagle. The golden is perched on a 6 or 8 inch post, interesting to see the talon size. Much like the smaller birds harassing hawks, the red-tail can bother the eagle as long as it remains careful to not get too close.
Dave Harper, Oakley, California

The eagle is probably perched in the red-tail’s territory and the smaller hawk is just letting the golden know who’s “boss” around there. These little turf wars go on all the time between large raptors and small raptors. With the birds of prey, it’s usually over territory.

But when small songbirds, crows and jays start dive-bombing and screaming at much larger raptors, it usually has to do with survival.The small prey species band together to harass and try to chase the larger predators away so the predator won’t sneak up and kill one of them when they’re not looking. /Gary

Red-tailed hawk dive-bombing golden eagle sitting on fence post. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1golden redtail dave harper oakley

Posted on Tuesday, November 15th, 2011
Under: Golden eagles, Raptors, Red-tailed hawk | 4 Comments »

Need a cat? These cats need homes.

This senior blind kitty needs a home. Can you help? Photo by TuAnh Nguyen, Pleasanton, CA
1cat TuAnh Nguyen, pleasanton

Dear readers:
Need a cat? These two kitties need homes. I’d appreciate anything you can do to help. Thanks! /Gary

** CAT # 1: A recently blinded senior cat (from what appears to be a blow to the head) was found in the middle of a street in Pleasanton, California. You can see the cat’s picture above. It appears the cat was dumped there by it’s previous owner.  TuAnh Nguyen and her husband spotted the kitty while driving down the road, rescued it and sought medical help:
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Posted on Friday, November 11th, 2011
Under: Cats | 2 Comments »

Spider wrapping up a bee in its web for lunch

Beginning the process of wrapping a bee. Photo by Barry Hart, Concord, CA
1bee spider barry hart concord

My wife spends a lot of time tending her dahlias.  When she shouts “spider”, I run for my camera!  I was set up to take this one when it suddenly ran to a bee that had flown into its web.  I took several shots of the spider wrapping up the bee, but what was most interesting to me was the number of very tiny web strands that it was generating to do the job.  I couldn’t see them until I got the photo on the computer… It was also amazing to see how the spider took the bee from its initial position (entangled in many web strands) to a more convenient position for wrapping it up.  It got the bee to be suspended between two multiple strands and then spun it like it was on a skewer.  Nature is truly amazing.
Barry Hart, Concord, California

Spiders are wonderful creatures and their use of their webs is amazing, as you saw. Your beautiful photos really illustrate this. Multiple types of web to be used for wrapping their prey … some sticky … and some not sticky which the spider uses to walk on. The spider’s ability to play our web in a long line that gets caught in the wind and carried across wide spaces until it sticks on the other side … so the spider can build its web across a large area … is also something to think about. But that’s another story for another time. /Gary

Job almost done. A snack for later. Photo by Barry Hart, Concord, CA
1bee spider2 barry hart concord

Posted on Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
Under: Spider web, Spiders | 2 Comments »

Squirrel escapes high winds hiding in screech owl nest box

Fox squirrel hiding from high winds in screech owl nest box. Photo by Steve Musso, Walnut Creek, CA
1squirrel in box steve musso wc

We had a little screech owl that lived in our wisteria a couple of years ago. He flew off when the leaves began to fall, so we put up an owl box, hoping he would return. Alas, no owl has ever lived in it. But this week, our resident squirrel (a teenager, I think, from the nest in the big tree nearby) took refuge from the high winds.

Once the winds died down, he moved back out. So he won’t be “evicted” by an owl! Yeah, by evicted, I mean eaten!
Nan Musso, Walnut Creek, California

Hey, any port in a storm when a squirrel needs to get out of high winds!

When building nest boxes for owls, each owl species requires different dimensions for its box. The boxes also have to be places at certain heights off the ground for different species. Also, some (like screech owls!) need to be under trees because that’s where they like to fly, etc. Here’s a link to information on the correct dimensions for a screech owl nest: box   There’s also lots of information on how and where the box should be located. This should help you have a better chance of attracting some screech owls to your box! Good luck! /Gary

Posted on Monday, November 7th, 2011
Under: Nest boxes, Screech owls | No Comments »

Kingsnakes are nice to have around your yard.

California kingsnake. Photo by Renato, Walnut Creek, CA
1kingsnake renato wc

I saw this snake at the top of my driveway. I live at the end of a street and was a little concerned since I know nothing of snakes. Should I be worried as I have outside pets? By the way, I just took pictures and didn’t bother the snake.
Renato, Walnut Creek, California

This is a BEAUTIFUL California kingsnake. Harmless to us humans and it won’t be bothering your outside pets. It’s good to have nonpoisonous snakes like this in your yard. Kingsnakes eat small rodents and are cannibalistic on other reptiles, eating lizards and other snakes … including rattlesnakes. (They are immune to rattlesnake poison.) You’re luck to have this nice snake around. /Gary

California kingsnake. Photo by Renato, Walnut Creek, CA
1kingsnake2 renato wc

Posted on Friday, November 4th, 2011
Under: King snake | No Comments »