Critterful Friday

Have no fear, the May Events Calendar is here.  Excursions galore before mean old man summer sends us flocking for the conditioned air.  The next two weekends have events which are especially near and dear to my heart.  Next week of course is the big native plant/treasure sale at the Ojai Museum where the indomitable Sarah and I will be hocking our proverbial wares.  If you mention you are a Rambler reader I may even not scowl at you.

But this week is a guided hike which explains why I spend my days cleaning vast bags full of seeds or elbows deep in the dirt.  Brian Stark, OVLC conservation director will be giving a tour of the Ojai Meadow Preserve.  I’ll let the Sultan of SLO tell you in his own words:

The Saturday restoration tour at the Ojai Meadows Preserve is intended to share our plans for future restoration of the native grassland savannas and wildflower meadows. In the last 5 years, our focus at the Preserve has been to establish the wetland components of the project. The next five years will be focused on turning the 30 remaining acres into oak savanna, native grasslands, and wildflowers. My not-so-secret goal is to put the Ojai Meadows Preserve on the California wildflower map, so to speak. I’d like people to visit from far and wide to see Ojai’s flower show. Restoring grasslands is difficult work and a lot of planning is going into this project before we invest in the work. I’ll talk about our challenges and how we plan to meet them.

I’ve only been here a few years but it has been extremely cool watching the meadow slowly transform from a mustard wasteland.  Say hi to all my little babies growing out there.

Man oh man are the critters out this year.  Last week I was hiking in the heavy mist on Thursday up Gridley trail and all of a sudden Luke goes running up the trail like gangbusters.  I figure rabbit, maybe squirrel, let him have his fun he can barely catch a cold.  I look up and see this:

Pepe & son

Yup.. momma skunk and her baby, frolicking right in the middle of the trail in the middle of the morning, and dummy Luke closing the distance rapidly.  I finally learned after 4 years that if you want an Aussie come to you, run AWAY… in the other direction… as fast as you can.  Thank the stinky stars, that worked.  No one got sprayed, we figured it was as good a time as any to turn around.

On the way down I spotted these growing all over the hairy ceanothus:

The unmitigated gall of some creatures!

A little research revealed these as the work of a Gall Midge.  They seem to enjoy laying their eggs in our ceanothus, and here I am I thought galls were just for wasps.

Finally if these weren’t enough drama for a week’s time, Sarah and I were out taking cuttings on Tuesday at the Ventura River Preserve.  In the mugwort right near the fenced in nursery, barely a quarter mile from the trail head.  As I’m busy snipping on a cool wet morning I look down…

Very sneaky

A big ole Crotalus viridis having a nap… So of course I send Sarah in to get a better picture, who says working with me doesn’t have fringe benefits…

And finally, thought I’d leave with you a mystery plant.  I’ll admit I learned this one last year walking through the deep shade of Wills Canyon.

Hmm looks kind of like poison oak…

But shinier, smoother, different flowers.. what am I?

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This entry was posted in Getting Involved, Hiking Trail, Mystery plant, OVLC and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Critterful Friday

  1. Brian Stark says:

    Cool snake picture. Maybe that will encourage more of the Preserve users to keep their dogs on leashes. Snakes are not uncommon alongside the trails and a wandering dog can get hit pretty easily.

  2. Kevin Malone says:

    At least Luke wasn’t with you for the run in with the rattlesnake. Think I remember a run in he had in the past. Also nice that you sent a woman in to take the photo.

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