Sunday, November 17, 2013

black-tailed deer ~ 11/17/13 ~ at home

 Columbian black-tailed deer
Odocoileus hemionus columbianus

I have yet to figure out if there's a seasonal pattern for when the different groups of deer visit the end of our drive, because it all seems so random. In the past, I've seen groups of females and singular older bucks this time of year. These two young bucks, a first for November, lolled around all day on the barely-there green grass patches and occasionally tangled antlers together.  The day after I took this picture, a third young buck joined these two.  They made me very nervous as they stood at attention only 10 feet from where I was trying to get into the garage.  I've heard various stories of local folks getting into tussles with the deer, to the detriment of people, pets, and cars.

As I was rereading up on Columbian black-tailed deer this morning from all the links I've provided in past IDs, I want to offer kudos to the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife for their excellent "A Sportsman's Guide to Improving Deer Habitat in California".  It's very well written.

habitat ~ 11/17/13 ~ Garland Ranch Regional Park

It's been a while since I've been out to a local park for a hike.  It's not that I haven't been getting outside, however.  I've been focusing on daily 5 mile walks from home along the Monterey Bay in an effort to gently heal from my bike accident.  Just look at what I've been missing!  The sparkling yellow cottonwood was glowing in the sunshine and filled the air with a soothing rustling sound.  We made sure to hit the hillside canyons littered with crunchy bigleaf maple leaves, which give off a distinctly dry aromatic scent when kicked around.  And, the bright red toyon berries seemed to be going gangbusters everywhere I looked.  There was enough color around that I could easily ignore all the dried straw and grey bits that dominate the landscape this time of year, compared to the lovely green of spring.  The seasonal foot bridge at the main parking is still up, but probably not for long.  It offers a lovely view of Carmel River.  Quite frankly, I'm amazed there's any water flowing this late in the season before the rains.  The nature center is still under renovation. We took a look, and I could hardly tell that they had changed anything.  All in all, I left feeling I need to get out more, because it's beautiful out there.

wedding tree ~ 11/17/13 ~ Garland Ranch

I love that we have a wedding tree.  And, yes, we do occasionally visit even if it's not our anniversary.  Analogies could be made comparing our marriage to the continuous changes in and around this tree.  With the relatively recent trail closure, I'm having to adjust to taking a different route to reach the tree.  I was resistant at first.  I noticed a new trail has popped up, and maybe next time we'll explore that path.  The leaves were still hanging on.  They were a bit crispy compared to the soft shoots of spring.  I'm not sure when they drop.  January?

ps 11/28/13 - I came across "That Tree: A Year in the Life of a Lonely Oak" on the Sierra Club site, and it reminded me a little of what I'm doing with our wedding tree.  So far, my less-than-artistic photos document 7 1/2 years of this oak tree, and I hope to continue chronicling at least once annually for the rest of our lives.

vinegar weed ~ 11/17/13 ~ Garland Ranch

Given how late in the year it is and how dry it's been, I really wasn't expecting to find any flowers blooming at Garland Ranch.  Quelle surprise!  I spotted two short vinegar weed plants in their lovely purple glory on a small sunny slope, a location which usually sprouts shootingstars and Johnny jump ups in the early spring.  These were softly fuzzy (i.e., non-irritating) and left a heavy scent on my fingers for hours.  I associate the smell to a mixture of turpentine and pitcher sage.  I kinda liked it.  It didn't remind me of vinegar at all.  The structure of the flowers fascinates me with its curve way back and then up and around.  I'd love to see how the mechanism works on pollinators.