Narrow-leaved Wirelettuce

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Narrow-leafed wirelettuce (Stephanomeria tenuifolia) is also commonly called  narrowleaf wirelettuce, slender wirelettuce and narrow-leaved skeletonweed. These specimens were growing along Modoc County Road 10 just outside of the Lava Beds National Monument boundary (Siskiyou County CA) in July. A native … Continue reading

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Dwarf Chamaesaracha

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Dwarf chamaesaracha (Chamaesaracha nana) has “uncommon abundant” distribution. (That is an oxymoron.) It is an uncommon plant, however, in the places where it does occur, dwarf chamaesaracha is abundant. This native perennial, a member of the Nightshade Family, is found … Continue reading

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“Holding” Steelhead

Steelhead Trout

Steelhead, or steelhead trout, are the same species as rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), except they have different life cycles. Where rainbow trout spend their entire life cycle in freshwater, steelhead, as a result of genetic modifications, are anadromous, that is, they spend parts of their life in fresh water and in saltwater.

Steelhead eggs are laid in fast-flowing, well-oxygenated, gravel-bottomed streams and rivers that empty into the Pacific. Once hatched, a steelhead spends one to three (or more) years in the river before undergoing physical changes that allow it to survive in seawater (smoltification). The smolt migrate downstream and enter the ocean where they live and mature for two or three years before returning to the river where they were born to spawn and begin the cycle again.

Unlike salmon, which die after spawning, steelhead are iteroparous and can spawn several time separated by months or years. Of the steelhead that survive to spawn once, about 20 to 30 percent return to the sea and manage to return and spawn a second time.

Steelhead migrate inland at different times of the year. Those returning to their birth rivers between November and April are fully developed when they leave the ocean and can begin to spawn as soon as they reach their spawning sites. These are known as “winter-run” steelhead. Those returning between May and October are called “summer-run” steelhead. The reproductive organs of summer-run steelhead are not fully mature when these fish enter the rivers. They mature in fresh water enroute to the spawning grounds.

Summer-run steelhead often return to rivers when water temperature is high and the water level is too low to permit the steelhead to navigate to their spawning grounds. These returning wild fish congregate in isolated, deep, cooler pools awaiting the return of fall rains and higher, colder water so they can navigate upstream to their spawning sites in the smaller tributaries. Often hundreds of fish congregate in these pools.

Unfortunately these large groups of fish are very attractive to poachers. Wild steelhead are already threatened and one act of vandalism can be devastating to their population. A “Fishwatch” program along the North and South Umpqua Rivers in Oregon has been in operation since 1993 to stop poaching of summer-run steelhead (also spring chinook and cut-throat trout). At the Big Bend Pool in the South Fork of Cedar Creek, where up to 600 steelhead congregate each summer, a  “Fishwatch” steward camps each summer and protects the massed steelhead from harassment and poaching.

This picture was taken in early September at the Big Bend Pool. The steward said approximately 225 steelhead were gathered in the pool this year. Unfortunately I did not have the appropriate lens and filters with me, but the approximately 24 inch steelhead are visible. Seeing all those steelhead swimming in the pool was testimony to the value of conservation programs.

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Are You My Mother?

Cat and Fawn

Throughout the summer a mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) doe and her fawn visited our yard (near Lookout CA, Modoc County) almost every day. (see “Mule Deer Fawn” on 08-13-2013) They made the rounds eating our pear and plum trees, grape vines and other ornamental plantings. We are happy to share.

Over the last week the fawn spent almost the entire day wandering about our yard, however, the doe is nowhere to be seen. Leonard and I are concerned that perhaps this little fawn’s mother was killed. The fawn seems healthy and eats vigorously so we do not disturb it.

The other day our cat, Sophie, was sitting on the back deck. The fawn noticed the cat and was obviously curious. As I watched from my kitchen window, the fawn walked up to the deck and appeared ready to step up and check out our cat. Unfortunately, at that moment the loud timer on my oven went off and startled the fawn, who walked off. The fawn was not overly frightened, but decided that it preferred to be a bit further away from the annoying noise.

This post is not going anywhere. I thought the picture was cute and wanted to share. While watching the fawn approach the cat, the Dr. Seuss book, “Are You My Mother?” crossed my mind and I visualized that the fawn was searching for its mother. (I must have read that book a hundred times to my son and daughter when they were young.) We do not feed or interact with the fawn, but if it is an orphan, perhaps the safety of our yard will help it survive.

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Introduced Mantis

This gallery contains 2 photos.

At the Konpira Shrine in Kagawa Prefecture (Shikoku Japan), I photographed a praying mantis that closely resembled the praying mantis we see on our property near Lookout CA (Modoc County). I later discovered, much to my surprise, that this praying … Continue reading

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Bobcat

Lynx rufus

Bobcats (Lynx rufus) have well-defined territories marked with urine scent, feces and clawing. Males will tolerate other males where their territories overlap, but females generally do not permit other bobcats to trespass.

Each bobcat has several areas within its territory for shelter. The main den (natal den) is supplemented by secondary shelters in hollow logs, thickets, brush piles and under rock ledges. These alternate covers are usually located near the perimeter of the bobcat’s territory.

Sportsmen often believe this cat with long legs, a short (bobbed) tail and pointed ears preys primarily on quail and other game birds. Examination of the stomachs of hunted bobcats shows that a very small percentage of their diet is composed of birds of any type. Bobcats mainly eat squirrels, wood rats, mice, gophers, cottontails and hares. Occasionally in the winter bobcats will take small or diseased deer.

Bobcats occupy a variety of diverse habitats, including areas overlapping with human populations, as long as there is suitable shelter and prey.

Being crepuscular (most active at dusk and dawn), bobcats are not regularly observed.  This bobcat, which has its territory and dens on our property near Lookout CA (Modoc County), appears to be heading back to its main den at dawn.

 

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Bog Laurel

This gallery contains 8 photos.

Kalmia polifolia has many common names: bog laurel, swamp laurel, bog kalmia, mountain laurel and alpine laurel, among others. I always called this native shrub (also often listed as a wildflower) bog laurel and will continue to do so. Additionally, … Continue reading

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