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Western fence lizards: Do they smell good to flies?

Do western fence lizards smell good to flies? Photo by Marina Chainey, Richmond, CA
1fenceliz marina chainey richmond

I was amused watching this lizard on a pine cone with 2 flies.  At first one foolhardy fly landed on it’s back and proceeded upward slowly until it was on the lizard’s head.  The lizard remained absolutely still until finally with a quick flick it ate it.  Incredibly, the other fly then landed on the lizard’s back and the process repeated itself! Is there some secret scent attracting the flies, or it was just sheer luck for the lizard?
Marina Chainey, Richmond, California

Sounds like luck to me, although I’ve never bothered to smell a western fence lizard before. I suspect this western fence lizard (aka “blue belly”) crawled through something that had a smell that was attractive to the flies. “Yum, that smells good!” CHOMP! The lizard may be on to something. /Gary

Posted on Wednesday, June 1st, 2011
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Wild turkeys: BEFORE (living with humans) and AFTER


Photo by Jim Richardson, Cherryland, CA
jim richardson cherryland



Photo by Nancy White, Martinez, CA
wild turkey nancy white martinez

Is there a moral here someplace, lurking in the shadows of somebody’s backyard? What do you think? /Gary

Posted on Thursday, April 7th, 2011
Under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

These 3 cats DESPERATELY need homes ASAP!

These 3 cats need homes ASAP. From Sally at FFF.
cats need home sally fff

Dear readers:
My friend Sally, of  the cat rescue group Friends of the Formerly Friendless (FFF), contacted me this morning about the cats pictured above and listed below. They are in desperate need of loving homes ASAP (it’s a personal thing I can’t go into). Can anybody help?

** GIGI: Female; three-years-old; solid black; long-haired; spayed. Very energetic and loving.

** MOCHA: Female; about 9-years-old; beautiful part Siamese, part fluffy white cat; very blue eyes; spayed.  She’s a very loving lap cat and loves to snuggle on beds and sofas.  She needs a nice, quiet home as she doesn’t do very well with loud noises so no young children.

** BUZZ: Male; gray long-haired tabby; neutered.  Great personality, purrs often, and would love to be spoiled.

If you can provide a home for one (or more) of these beautiful kitties, please contact

Thanks for caring and helping, my friends. /Gary

Posted on Monday, February 14th, 2011
Under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Happy New Year Adoption Special at the Antioch Animal Shelter


Happy New Year Adoption Celebration at the Antioch Animal Shelter!

Saturday, Jan. 15, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Antioch Animal Shelter in historic downtown Antioch at 2nd and “L” streets on the same grounds as the Antioch Police Department.

On this special “Adoption Day” friends of Animal Services will be paying the spay/neuter and immunization fees for any BLACK OR BLACK & WHITE CAT OR DOG adopted through Antioch Animal Services

These adorable black & white animals will be “formally attired” in their “Tuxedos” and ready for a new year adoption!

For more information or to make a donation for the animals, please call 925-431-8318

Please visit the Friends of Animal Services site at

Posted on Friday, January 14th, 2011
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ARF’s dog stars are ready to dance home with your family

ARF Street Sign
ARF new street sign

Meet ARF’s champion dog stars from now until Oct. 3

Put on your dancing shoes and quickstep over to meet a pack of irresistible (and adorable!) champion canine companions at Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, 2890 Mitchell drive, Walnut Creek, CA.

You’ll be able to find and adopt a canine companion that’s a perfect “10” for your family! And then dance home with a new family pet! /Gary
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Posted on Thursday, September 16th, 2010
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New community resource for good Samaritans and independent feral/stray cat rescuers

Dear Gary:
I wanted to let you and your readers know that beginning today (Aug. 19), a new community resource for “good Samaritans” and feral/stray cat rescuers in Contra Costa County will be activated. The “Petunia’s Project” will provide vouchers for independent rescuers and “good Samaritans” who have rescued and taken in abandoned, stray and/or feral cats in Contra Costa. The vouchers will provide: FREE combo test, spay/neuter, deworming (if deemed necessary ), FVRCP shot, Rabies shot, and Advantage application.

For those rescuers who will be practicing trap, neuter and release (TNR) and caring for a cat colony, the basic voucher will also provide for ear-tipping.
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Posted on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
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Taking a walk on the wild side with Brian

To bee, or not to bee, by Brian Murphy

My good friend Brian Murphy of Walnut Creek spends a lot of time doing things with the Walnut Creek Open Space Foundation, Mt. Diablo Audubon Society, and anyone else who wants to improve the environment in our local open space areas.

The best part of what Brian does is that he usually takes his camera along with him wherever he goes and then e-mails me pictures he has taken, along with some of his interesting comments.

What follows is the first of what I hope will become a periodic series of tiny photo exhibits here in my blog called, “Taking a walk on the wild side with Brian.”

Enjoy …
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Posted on Wednesday, July 8th, 2009
Under: Brian Murphy, Uncategorized | No Comments »

4th of July: a BLAST for people, NO picnic for pets; some handy tips

Here are some handy tips for a happy and safe Fourth of July.


First and foremost: your pets are better off at home. Whatever you do … DO NOT take them with you to see the fireworks!
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Posted on Tuesday, July 1st, 2008
Under: Cats, dogs, Fourth of July, Pets, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Top 10 reasons you take your dogs and cats to the vet

Veterinary Pet Insurance reveals top 10 reasons your pets were taken to the veterinarian in 2007.

There’s no way around it. Sometimes Fluffy gets stuffy and even cats can end up sick as a dog. Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) the nation’s largest provider of pet health insurance, recently analyzed its medical claims received in 2007 to determine the top 10 most commonly claimed conditions for dogs and cats.
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Posted on Friday, June 20th, 2008
Under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Got fence lizards (“blue bellies”) living in your yard?

The Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis), often called a “blue belly” because of the blue markings on the bellies of the males, photographed here by my good friend Brian Murphy of Walnut Creek, is a very common California lizard.

While working in my Benicia, Calif., garden the other day, I spotted five blue bellies patrolling my backyard garden boxes. That many lizards can gobble up more bugs every day than a whole can of nasty pesticide spray.
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Posted on Friday, June 6th, 2008
Under: Uncategorized | 54 Comments »