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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Nesting Season

Boggs Lake, the biggest vernal pool in Lake County, still holds an Everglades-like sheet of water increasingly obscured by grasses and tules. Mallards and great blue herons where seen on Saturday. Coots were heard. Otter droppings showed evidence of a frog-based diet.

May showers kept grass green and creeks flowing.

Mount Konocti, from the chaparral cloaked hills of the Mayacamas range, still looks pretty much like its old self. It is only at closer range that the outrages against her are more apparent. The worst scars are the tracts of suburban sprawl on its steep Eastern and Northern flanks. The construction of houses on ridge lines is an ever increasing blight on human consciousness.
Apart from a few such glaringly inappropriate edifices, the Western elevation of the mountain is most seriously disfigured by
large mangy patches where the chaparral has been clear cut to plant commercial walnut orchards.

Two elk trotted down through a patch of grassland toward the road between the Clear Lake landfill and the flea market before thinking better of it and turning tail.

On Saturday, May 29, the waters of Kelsey Creek were backed up behind the closed gates of the retention dam. A labyrinth
of willow islands and cotton coated channels provided hiding places for at least two large broods of common mergansers. One mother merganser kept her ducklings immobile under the creek bank until our canoe had passed them by twenty feet before delivering the evacuation alarm. There was a frenzied retreat upstream.

Several tractors powered pumps taking water directly from the creek. One wonders how many of the pin-sized fry of hitch end up meeting their end in these pumps.

The gourd-like mud nests of cliff swallows clung to the retention structure as the birds swooped and chattered in alarm.

Roses thrive in the unusually cool, cloudy month of May.

The cool weather tempts snakes, newly emerged from their winter torpor, to soak in the radiant warmth of paved roads with often fatal results. A 53 inch gopher snake actively patrolled the ranch on May's first warm day. It was killed by a truck on May's second warm day.

The tractor unearthed a brood of tiny sharp-tailed snakes with their faint red lateral stripes.