About Me

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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of 4 small primates. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bitter cherry sauce

I was on the trail with Fred the other morning when I caught a fleeting glimpse of a small creature eyeing me through the thimbleberry bushes.

As it humped down the trail its black-streaked tail gave it away -- gray fox. Not a surprise.

Fred of course was oblivious until he stumbled into the fox's scent trail -- apparently it had been enjoying the company of a pile of horse pucky.

Fred took off like a bloodhound.

The chase was a short-lived phenomenon. Reynard abandoned the trail about 50 yards away and disappeared into the underbrush.

Fred returned with gleaming smile and hanging tongue.

It was then that I noticed I was standing in a small thicket of wild cherry trees -- bitter cherries, Prunus emarginata, to be exact.

Laden with fruit.

I hooked a limb with my stick, and was soon lost in a reverie of browsing -- the yellow and red fruit were highly edible, and Fred whined for me to share the fare.

Yes, Fred eats sour cherries. It's a bit odd.

Well, let me just say that I developed a powerful craving for bitter cherry sauce on vanilla ice cream.

The next day I picked a half gallon of the seductive fruits, and the redhead pitted the batch and cooked it into bitter cherry syrup.

It's a good excuse to eat ice cream and completely nullifies the effects of all that cholesterol.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The tail wasn't enough

...but was the rest of the meal too much?

I wonder.

When you find half an alligator lizard on the trail, you know the old tail autotomy trick didn't work.

Did the catcher of the luckless lizard lose its appetite or did something scary interrupt its meal?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Stinkarella and skunklets

Stinkarella took the kids for a stroll three nights ago (June 14), and walked right past the camera on a jeep trail.

The site is in the chaparral a couple hundred yards from my house -- the same place where something nailed a striped skunk over a month ago, and where Fred got his lessons in rattlesnake avoidance.

I am always pleased to get pictures of spotted skunks, especially when it's a family like this.

I get spotted skunk images here quite often, especially in mixed conifer-oak woodland, but mothers with young in tow can be seen only a few weeks during the year.

Last year I recorded a mother with skunklets on June 25th.

On a related topic, I have to confess that the three cams at "el paso de las pumas" were a bust.

I pulled them this afternoon, and I'm taking them to greener pastures in Sierra County this weekend.

The redhead and I'll be attending a reunion of San Francisco State University biology graduates.

We're meeting at the SF State Field Campus, where I'm supposed to demonstrate my camera trapping obsession.

I'll set 5 cameras in preparation for the Camera Trapping Workshop there next month.

The reunion should prove amusing. Most of us are geezers, and we haven't seen each other for decades.

Anyway, I am back in commission, so I'll be posting more often than during the past month.