Ample Water, More Wildlife

Yesterday I drove to the ranch to do some clean-up. With camera in hand, I stopped a few times to take photos. The day started with an encounter with turkeys just past the first gate.

The sun was high, but one photo stood out over the rest, despite the imperfect light.

DSC_0833 cropped hen and gobbler

Down the road a ways, a pair of mallards were doing their version of reproduction. With all the rain, one would think the local mallard crop will be good this year.

DSC_0835 mallard pair

At a pond near the second gate, bullfrogs were warming in the sun at the water’s edge.

DSC_0853 bull frog cropped

Enemies of many native species, including native frog species, bullfrogs dominate any pond they inhabit. Fortunately we don’t have bullfrogs on our ranch.

DSC_0859 plain titmouse cropped

As I walked turned to step into my truck, I was distracted by a tree swallow landing in an oak tree nearly overhead. After several attempts to photograph the tree swallow, I realized that I was getting nowhere. Then this plain titmouse appeared and posed for a photo. Seems like there’s a titmouse pair for each oak tree.

Wildflowers were looking good. With the cooler-than-average weather, the annual grasses have not dominated and the broad-leaf plants will win the battle for sunlight this year. They’ve off to a good start.

DSC_0898 guarding the waters edge coped

On the way home, I couldn’t resist another bullfrog photo. These guys are the guardians of the water’s edge. Their legs also fry up nicely.

DSC_0902 three deer cropped

Looks like two young bucks and a doe peeking at me from below the road.

Red-tailed hawks were on the prowl. Some in the air and others hunting the easy way.

DSC_0915 Canada goose cropped

Maybe it’s the extra water that has more than normal numbers of Canada geese hanging around the local ponds.

After leaving the gravel road, I passed through some local vineyards to see what might be available. Found a lone pair of hens, avoiding the crowd and then a big crowd of gobblers strutting aggressively.

It was a great day to be out and about.

The Boss

On the next-to-last evening of the hunt, my cousin Wes and I were sitting in camp and something landed in a large yellow pine above us. The critter was obviously a large bird and it began to chirp loudly.

Before long we figured out that it was a bald eagle and it was giving another eagle a bad time. When the other eagle left, the mature “boss” bird stuck around for a longer visit.

On the last trip out of the campground with my cargo trailer in tow, the eagle appeared again and landed on a large branch of a close-by yellow pine. I was fortunate to snap a few shots of the magnificent animal.

OK. You Tell Me

While hunting and associated travels, I took some wildlife photos whenever I wasn’t too absorbed in finding a buck.

On the way to town one day, I snapped a few photos that had little promise, but I was just firing away.

I must have hit the wrong button on a few, because my Nikon decided to take charge. The result was interesting, but I haven’t taken time to figure out what happened.

Bobcat on a Limb

A few weeks ago I was leaving the ranch when a young bobcat appeared on the road in front of me. Unlike most wild animals, this cat decided to walk and run down the road in front of me and continued to do so for several hundred yards.

Eventually I decided that maybe I’d get a chance to photograph the cat and moved my camera onto my lap where it would be handy.

Finally the cat decided to leave the road and as I passed its location I spotted the cat standing on the limb of a downed tree. I grabbed the camera and made an attempt to photograph the cat before it disappeared into the woods.

Not expecting the photo to turn out, I didn’t even review the shot when I got home.

While glancing through photos on my computer yesterday, I noticed that the cat photo was interesting. Here it is.

DSC_0214[1] bobcat

I like the silhouette and the one eye. You can’t be sure when a photo will be worthwhile. Just keep firing away and maybe something good will happen.

Critters of the Week

Been to the ranch a couple times. Lots of eagles were out on Sunday, but today was for the deer.

Deer numbers are down, but at least they came out of hiding today.

Group of young bucks out at first light.

Group of young bucks out at first light.

Took this photo through the windshield.

Took this photo through the windshield.

Some snakes are still out.

Some snakes are still out.

This gopher snake was long and skinny.

This gopher snake was long and skinny.

Caught this eagle passing over.

Caught this eagle passing over.

This is a nice buck. Saw one bigger but didn't get a photo.

This is a nice buck. Saw one bigger but didn’t get a photo.

This spike hangs out with two others about the same size. I see them almost every time I go to the ranch.

This spike hangs out with two others about the same size. I see them almost every time I go to the ranch.

Where there's water there are deer.

Where there’s water there are deer.

Another Day at the Ranch

Yesterday was a good day at the ranch.

The day got off on a good note when I spotted a group of tule elk bulls feeding along the side of highway 84. I did you U-turn and snapped a few photos.

Not often does one see tule elk along a major highway.

Not often does one see tule elk along a major highway.

Here they are again.

Here they are again.

Impressive animals.

Arriving about 8 AM, the first item on the agenda was a whipsnake survey. Unfortunately I found only a western fence liizard for my efforts, but did snap a couple more photos.

Basking in the morning sun, every rock had either a meadow lark, horned lark or some other bird on top of it.

Basking in the morning sun, every rock had either a meadow lark, horned lark or some other bird on top of it.

A morning dove perched on the dead limbs of a blue oak.

Morning doves are sleek.

Morning doves are sleek.

It has been a good year for some wildflowers.

The Mariposa lily is a plant that has done well this season.

The mariposa lily is a plant that has done well this season.

We had a crew of eager helpers

We had a crew of eager helpers.

This larvae has almost no dorsal fin, shrinking gills and muscle development in his legs. We expect that he will leave the pond within a few days to a couple weeks.

This larvae has almost no dorsal fin, shrinking gills and muscle development in his legs. We expect that he will leave the pond within a few days to a couple weeks.

On the way home, a bobcat walked across the road in front of me. I snapped a photo before he went out of site. I think I’ve photographed him before.

Took this photo from about 100 yards.

Took this photo from about 100 yards.

Spring is Here and Reptiles are Out

This alligator lizard was not full grown. He hid in the grass for a while before finally giving me an open shot.

Spent Saturday looking for reptiles and I found quite a few. Here are some of my photos.

Western fence lizards were out sunning themselves on the many rock piles.

Here’s a classic fence lizard.

A few snakes were circulating. I found one whipsnake.

This whip snake didn’t want to leave and I took several photos.

The Alameda whipsnake is listed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service as threatened. http://ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/profile/speciesProfile.action?spcode=C04A

I finally came upon a large rattle snake.

This guy makes a living eating wood rats.

Here he is again.

Plenty of rattles on this guy. No wood rat too big or too small for him.

The next one is not a reptile, but he posed so nice I couldn’t resist.

He stood in the middle of the road and strutted his stuff, but the hens must have been nesting.