Friday, April 25, 2014

Trails Full of Flowers and Snakes

Working during the day cuts into my time spent in front of the computer, which is a good thing but it also means fewer posts here. I've worked a few weeks at our Cupertino site now, and I'm currently in the middle of a week off. I spent the first part of the week at Yosemite National Park with my co-workers Jellyfish, Pelican, and Papa Bear. Everybody I work with was amazed to discover that I hadn't been there previously (because I'm a naturalist and grew up in California), and now that I'm back, I must say that I too am amazed that I hadn't been there before. More on Yosemite later though. For once, I'm actually doing something with a week off other than sleeping in and staying close to home, so in a few hours, Eva and I are heading for L.A. to stay at my old friend Chris' house, along with another old friend, Jack, who is heading north from San Diego to meet us there. Then, we're all going to see Black Sabbath. Unfortunately, Jeanine has to work, so won't be joining us. I had initially invited Willow along too, but she balked at the long car ride.

Right now, it is cloudy and drizzly out, although the last couple of weeks have been mostly sunny and warm. The reptiles and birds have been out too. Here are some pictures from the last few weeks. I'll save the Yosemite pictures for another post.

Most of these photos taken at work, while I was on the clock, so to speak. The two Kingsnakes were found on the same trail, but on different weeks. One of them was missing an eye and had several other partially healed wounds. It looked like it had been captured and dropped by a hawk. The other one had only one wound. Something must find Kingsnakes yummy, either that or they're going after prey that takes serious exception to being eaten. When I found the second snake, our group was accompanied by a teacher and a parent who was doubling as the school yearbook photographer, meaning that the snake has a chance of being in a school yearbook. Like it cares.

The napkin dispenser photo was taken after Papa Bear, who is currently the night supervisor at our Cupertino site, pointed out the face to me. I even mentioned it to the students when I was running the astronomy program because there is a picture of the "face" on Mars in our powerpoint presentation. Faces pop up in the strangest places.

The Canada Geese and the Softshell Turtle photos were taken along the Los Gatos Creek Trail. The turtle is an invasive species, but I'm always excited to photograph reptiles. They pose so nicely.

I went out and watched the full lunar eclipse earlier this month too. If I had been working nights that week, I would have gotten paid for that as well. As it was, I ventured out into the backyard a few times between 11:00 PM and midnight. The clouds more or less cooperated too.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

New Chickens, Old Crows

I've always had trouble saying no when people offer me free reptiles, and Jeanine has proven that she has a similar problem when it comes to chickens. This is why we have three new chickens. At the moment, they're confined to their coop (which came with the chickens) until they get used to their new surroundings (and the old chickens), but hopefully soon they'll successfully intermingle. Here they are:

Nearby, the crows are busy building nests. Now that I have a better lens, I can actually get photos of them without them realizing it.

Well, almost...

Friday, April 04, 2014


Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the strange cloud that was hovering over the South Bay around a week ago. I'm not sure what atmospheric conditions are necessary for the formation of something so perfectly oval. It was suggested by several people that it looked like a word balloon, as if the planet was trying to communicate something, cartoon-style.

Fear of Being Eaten By A Cormorant While Falling From the Golden Gate Bridge

More rain fell this week. On Monday, it percolated down through all three layers of clothing, turning me into a soggy mess. I didn't check, but I'm pretty sure this particular storm blew in from the north. I led my group of kids down rushing rivulets that had once been trails, and they were good sports about it. The slugs and worms were out in force, making the robins happy.

There was a kid in my group who was so into bugs that he referred to species by their scientific names. He said he wanted to be an entomologist when he grows up. My kind of kid. As all weeks do, this one flew by. Next week marks my third in a row at the Cupertino site.

Over the previous weekend, Jeanine, Eva, Willow, and I went up to San Francisco to do some letterboxing. Our quest first took us to the Hotel Vertigo, which was a location for a certain famous film.

Then, we went out to the Golden Gate Bridge, which coincidentally also served as a backdrop for scenes from the same film.

While we were there, we witnessed a Cormorant doing some heavy duty snacking. Cormorants take their snacking quite seriously.