Sturgeon Success

After three tries this spring, I finally hooked onto a nice sturgeon. My fishing buddy Bob, who has already landed a couple slot fish, took this video. The fish is obviously large and prehistoric looking. Even if we could have taken him home, I don’t think we would have got him into the boat. Just not properly prepared.

Later on Bob hooked a sturgeon that was just about a carbon copy of mine.

It was a good day. We also brought home a couple keeper stripers.

Whipsnake Survey

Yesterday, biologist Mandy Murphy allowed me to tag along with her while she ran her string of snake traps in search of Alameda whipsnakes and other reptiles.

We found a whipsnake in the third trap we checked. It was a recapture as she had caught it once before and left it with an identifying mark.

The snake was a large one, about four and a half feet long. She also caught a gopher snake.

IMG_3199 trapped gopher snake

The trap consists of vertical boards which guide the target species towards four wire cages that are similar to minnow traps. Once the snake or other critter enters the trap, it cannot find a way out. In this photo there are four separate wire mesh cages underneath the foam boards which protect the caught snakes from overheating.

The traps are monitored closely so that snakes will not be injured.

Trap

Snakes that are caught provide samples for DNA testing to determine their genetic makeup. According to Mandy, researchers have determined that two California racer species, the Alameda whipsnake and the California racer, are closely related. It is anticipated that the snakes captured on our ranch will share the genetic makeup of both species.

Good Year for Balsamroot

Balsamroot DSC_0779[1]

The balsamroot plants on our ranch are having a good season. They like the open grassland mostly on north-facing slopes near the top of ridges. It’s easy to think they’re mules ear from a distance as the flowers are so similar, but up close it’s easy to differentiate between the two as their leaves are nothing like the large leaves that give mules ear its name.

We had a lot of rain this year and there’s more balsamroot blooming than I’ve ever seen before.

Here’s a link to more information about this uncommon plant which can be found in the east bay hills.

http://calscape.org/Balsamorhiza-macrolepis-()