Mon 10 Mar 2014
“With joy I sing the miracle of spring/ The promise true of life anew the warm days bring.” — Popular lyrics to The Happy Farmer by the German composer Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Six blacktail deer stay together as a herd as they graze in the fresh, green grass around Mitchell cabin.
Many animals identify other members of their species by smell, not by sight. Unlike dogs, however, deer have the good manners to sniff each others’ front ends when making sure who is a family member. _______________________________________________________________
They had been hanging out as a group, but with patches of new grass here and there, they now spread out looking for the thickest clumps.
Their enthusiasm for dining over a wide area makes me think they had gotten tired of eating together at piles of dried alfalfa.
We’ve had 20 inches of rain in West Marin during the past two months, bringing the total for the season (July 1 to June 30) to 25.5 inches. In a normal year, West Marin would have received 40 inches by now.
Among the creatures appreciating the recent rains is this salamander, which I uncovered when I pulled a handful of pine needles out of a drainage ditch at the bottom of my driveway. Even in the open air, the salamander’s coloring provides amazingly good camouflage from potential predators. _________________________________________________________________
Some salamanders inhabit rotting logs, and when the logs were put in a fire, the salamanders would try to escape, leading people to believe that salamanders were created by the flames.
The recent rains have not only turned the hills green again, they’ve brought back our nightly chorus of tree frogs.
The frogs are loudest at two stockponds near Mitchell cabin, but some hop on over to my lower deck to chirp.
This one is on bamboo growing in a wine barrel.
A Pacific tree frog’s color depends on where it is at the moment.
Unlike chameleons, whose colors change to match background colors, tree frogs’ colors change (between brown and green) depending on how dry or moist their surroundings are. _________________________________________________________
Immigrant flora and fauna next to Mitchell cabin.
Daffodils are native to meadows and woods in Europe, North Africa, and West Asia, with a center of distribution in the Western Mediterranean, according to The Cultural History of Plants, a 2005 collection of scientific writings edited by Mark Nesbitt and Sir Ghillean Prance.
Turkeys, meanwhile, are native to North America but not to West Marin. Working with the California Department of Fish & Game, a hunting club in 1988 introduced the local wild turkeys on Loma Alta Ridge, which overlooks the San Geronimo Valley. The original flock of 11 hens and three toms all came from a population that Fish & Game had established in the Napa Valley during the 1950s. ________________________________________________________________
Last year one bicyclist died when he crashed in Martinez trying to avoid a flock of the birds, The Contra Costa Times reported.
The year before, a motorcyclist wrecked but survived when a turkey hit him on Interstate 680.
And as I noted here a couple of weeks ago, a wild turkey blacked out the town of Tomales for four hours in 2005 when it flew into power lines over Highway 1 downtown.
Nor was it the first turkey problem in Tomales. They were already considered pests because of their tearing up gardens and aggressively challenging schoolchildren. On one occasion turkeys lunged at two youngsters on scooters, and although neither was harmed, both were forced to abandon their vehicles and flee on foot.
A Point Reyes Light article on the blackout (which, of course, is quoted in our new book, The Light on the Coast) reported: “Tomales residents’ efforts to get rid of the turkeys have met with little success. The Marin County Humane Society deals only with domestic animals, and Fish and Game refuses to relocate turkeys until an Environmental Impact Report is completed.
“In their desperation, residents even sought out exterminators but could find none willing to take on an assignment involving turkeys.”