On our trip to the Ranch last Monday, we observed many of the rights of spring, golden eagles feeding their young in a roadside nest, vulture eggs inside a hollow oak, a turkey gobler strutting and gobbling, trout smolt heading downstream, a gopher snake in the road, plump does ready to give birth and zillions of wildflowers.
Roadside gobblers are scarce this year. Maybe last year’s dry spring took it’s toll on them.
The warm of the sun was having it’s affect upon wildlife. Nothing seems to be more affected by the warm spring rain than snakes. One of the highlights of the trip was a rockpile home of a den of rattlesnakes.
They are always impressive and my friend Joe DiDonato has shared with me several of the photos he took was the group watched the snakes laying in the warm sun.
The brown snake is the larger, but the black snake has at least 16 rattles. I wonder how old it is.
The black snake is the smaller of the two – not sure which is the male vs female.
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LaCosta Creek is a tributary of Alameda Creek and is blocked from San Francisco Bay by Turner Dam at San Antonio Reservoir. Trout in San Antonio Reservoir spawn in LaCosta Creek during the winter months.
Very little rainfall fell during December and January, but the rains of February and March have produced a run of large rainbow trout from the reservoir. Whether these trout are related to the steelhead trout of Alameda Creek is a mystery to me, but I’m sure there is significant genetic data somewhere, as biologists have been investigating these fish for years.
Here are some photos taken last week.
It appears that eggs are present at the rear of the female fish (the one on the right). Note that this male is quite large (thick) and his back is out of the water most of the time.
The male would occasionally nudge the female in an effort to instigate spawning behavior. When the female began to release eggs should would turn on her side and flop wildly. Unfortunately this lively action didn’t result in any useful photos.
This male was very large for LaCosta Creek probably about four pounds – maybe more.
Once again the male nudges the female. He is probably double her size.
Some of the fry manage to move up into the deep canyons where apparently they manage to survive through the hot summer days and also avoid predators. Occasionally the large trout get trapped in the creek as creek levels subside, but if that happens, their doomed as none of the creek can support large fish through the summer months.
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