Snakes!

Snakes!

An article I wrote about rats, snakes and bees appeared today in our local paper. Since I gave an update about rat poison and wildlife last month, let’s talk snakes. I like snakes. I know I’m unusual in this, perhaps because I didn’t have brothers that terrorized me with them (real or not), and maybe living in the Chicago suburbs, where we didn’t have a lot of snakes, had something to do with it.

My husband also likes them so when we encounter them it’s a positive thing. My previous articles on snakes have mostly focused on relocating rattlesnakes, something we did quite often at our San Diego County property.  [Read more…]

Continuing Rat Poison Concerns (and Update)

Continuing Rat Poison Concerns (and Update)

We’ve encountered two dead mature rats in our yard the last month. Neither had marks, indicating they were not killed by a critter or injury. So we conjecture they succumbed to rat poison put out by neighbors or more likely, the pest companies they have employed. I’ve written a series on the rodent issues, including problems with secondary poisoning (see Our Ailing Wildlife) but it seems a reminder is warranted. [Read more…]

Favorite Native Plants For Summer Heat

Favorite Native Plants For Summer Heat

Like most California residents, we’ve been watering less, despite the heat and drier soil from little rainfall this year. Here’s a list of what looks best in our Southern California yard this summer. Many of the following are California natives or their hybrids, and since most nurseries don’t carry them, I’ll include where you can purchase them in Southern California. [Read more…]

Great Hikes (and Camping): Wind Wolves Preserve

Great Hikes (and Camping): Wind Wolves Preserve

If you’re looking for a place in the southern half of California to hike or camp that features few people, running streams and waterfalls, and a wild land full of wildlife, head to Wind Wolves Preserve. As word gets out this place it won’t feel so remote very long.

Set aside by Wildlands Conservancy in 1996, photos from our recent June trip best illustrate its specialness. [Read more…]

Drought-busting: Why to Plant Natives?

Drought-busting: Why to Plant Natives?

The drought here in California — we’ve received less than 8 inches of rain here in Redlands —  is encouraging much discussion on how to reduce water usage. I’ve written a lot about our use of California natives in our landscaping so I want to reference some of my popular articles on why they’re a great solution.

First, a quick review of why to choose natives (which applies wherever you live): [Read more…]

Taking the Trail to Wildwood Canyon’s Hunt Ranch

Taking the Trail to Wildwood Canyon’s Hunt Ranch

Yesterday on a warm March day I went to Wildwood Canyon State Park in Yucaipa and took the short 2 mile roundtrip Water Canyon Trail to Hunt Ranch. If you’re looking for a mix of wildlife (particularly birds and butterflies) amidst mature California oak trees and a decaying but beautiful ranch and outbuildings — this is a good one. Hunt Ranch was the former Wildwood Lodge resort built in the 1920s that investors hoped to turn into a country club development. (more history at this website)

I wrote an earlier post on this under-appreciated state park, which gives an overview. [Read more…]

Love in Lizard Land

Love in Lizard Land

It’s springtime in the nature world. We came across two mating lizard couples yesterday while many others are running around like cuckoos trying to get into the game. (… looked up cuckoos and they’re a family of birds that include roadrunners.) The season of love has also struck other animal species. Two of our birdhouses are being prepped by busy Bewick’s wrens. And out in the chaparral and desert, male rattlesnakes are getting territorial, lifting their fronts up to challenge one another.

I thought I would get some answers to things I ponder when observing our yard’s lizards, so I asked Robert Fisher, a biologist with the USGS in San Diego and co-author of A Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians in Coastal Southern California.

Here is what I learned: [Read more…]