Friday, February 27, 2009

Against my better judgement I put food in the bird feeder today. I had left it empty for the last week or so because the seed on the ground attracts voles. It also attracts quail and I enjoy the quail as much as I dislike the voles.

The voles are very destructive to the garden and as a locovore, I try to grow as much food as I can in addition to the ornamental plants.

Last year I had tomatoes, peppers, squash and cucumbers. The critters ate all of the eggplant. This year I am planning on adding peas, lettuce and beans. The peas and lettuce have started to come up and I am hoping to protect them from the voles, rabbits and birds. With a natural area behind the house it may be impossible but I will try.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Todays walk

I took my camera with me today with the bird lens. It wasn't the right lens for sky watching but I took a few pictures any way. We are between storms and the sky is a beautiful blue. It's a great improvement over last summer's fires.

There weren't many cooperative birds but I did spot a kite close enough for a halfway decent shot. He sure looks soft. A few years ago I managed to get this shot of one hunting. I love to watch them, they seem to hang in the sky. They can stay in one spot for an amazing length of time. It must take a lot of energy.

I also spotted a couple of killdeer, I didn't realize until I looked at the photo that they have the red ring around their eyes.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

signs of Spring

We have had a bit of warm weather here between the needed rain storms. The bluebirds are checking out the nest box, watched over by the swallows who would also like to use it. Last year I lost the nestlings to the heat so I have planted a lemon tree to the west of the nest box. I don't think it will help them this year but maybe we will have a cool spring and they can successfully raise their young.

The first of the daffodils and tulips are blooming and the hummingbirds are getting active.

Another period of stormy weather is due to start tonight. We are keeping our fingers crossed that we will get enough moisture over the next several weeks to bring us up to normal percipitation for the year. Even that would not be enough to fill the resevoirs.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Meadow vole

I am doing battle with the voles and they are winning. They're cute little things but they eat tender plants and make holes all over the garden. It is my own fault. I brought in many yards of top soil and bermed it above my rocky soil. They love it.
I don't want to use poison bait, that would endanger the birds and the snakes when they emerge in spring. I have been using smoke bombs, so far to no effect. Maybe the will get tired of the smoke in their burrows and go back to the open space where they belong.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Perhaps our drought is easing. The storm door is open and it looks like it will remain that way for a while yet. We haven't had great quantities of precipitation but we will take what we can get.

I remembered my camera when Jules and I took our walk today but the birds were hiding. No hawks or egrets only a Say's Phoebe willing to be photographed.

Warm weather a few weeks ago encouraged the apricot tree to bloom. Now it is cold and wet and the bees are in hiding. I hope I will get some fruit this summer, maybe I should go out with a little paint brush and play pollinator bee.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pinnacles National Monument

Pinnacles is becoming our favorite places for winter camping and hiking. The red rocks and oak studded riparian canyons remind me of Arizona but it is much closer to our home in northern California.

We have hiked several trails but still have many more areas of the monument to explore. We hope to go back next month. If they get some rain there may be a nice display of wildflowers.
Wild life abounds. It is one of the release sites for the endangered California Condor and they can often be seen soaring high above the ridge tops. At night the coyotes can be heard howling not far away and there were strange noises in the nearby bushes.

Among the many birds, we saw a flock of wild turkeys in the campground. The insect life included a large swarm of lady bugs resting on the trees and boulders along one of the trails.
The San Andreas fault runs through the area and geologists have discovered matching formations northeast of Los Angeles, more than two hundred miles away. Pinnacles is only 30 miles from Hollister, California a town known for its frequent earthquakes.

Visit with Michael

We had a nice visit with Michael. He was in a mellow mood and we enjoyed our time together. He did have one small incident. We went for a walk and he took a tumble banging his knee on the sidewalk. Boy, was he mad. He stomped is foot and cried, showing more emotion than I usually see.

His parents had a good time camping at Joshua Tree and we enjoyed a brief visit with them when they returned on Sunday.

We watched the Super Bowl and then Jules and I headed for Pinnacles National Monument on Monday.