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Friday, June 17, 2016

Mockingbird nest

I was walking through my orchard and a mockingbird darted out from an orange tree.   I thought it was odd and noticed that there was a nest in the tree.     Mockingbirds are quite common in Southern California and will aggressively protect their territory chasing off crows, and I've seen the harassing hawks in the air.    If you hear a bird singing a song that varies in the middle of the night, odds are its a mockingbird.   The males will sing all night sometimes, much to the chagrin of someone who is trying to sleep with their windows open.

The nest is well hidden in the orange tree.      You can barely see it.  You can see the sticks of the nest under the orange.

Here is a picture of the nest looking down.  It appears its still under construction.

Here is the nest with some eggs 3 days later.     What a nice color for bird eggs.

I will try to take some pictures of the babies without scaring off the parents.   They are very protective of the nest and sit on the peach tree next to the orange tree and squawk at me  whenever I am near the tree.   I am giving them some room for the next couple weeks so she doesn't pop off the next every time I walk by.   Baby birds mean parents catching lots of bugs on my farm to feed their babies.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Snake Rescue!

We were tidying up on my farm yesterday and I was throwing some bird netting that was bunched up in the corner and tossed it in the back of my truck on top of some other junk.  My helper who was doing most the heavy lifting while I recover from my health issues plaguing me lately, screamed there was a snake in the back of the truck and she started running.

I looked and could see two snakes stuck in the bird netting.   One looked like it was dead, but the other moved when I touched its tail.     I pulled the netting out of the truck and check to make sure it wasn't a rattle snake.    No rattles on its tail and it looked like a gopher snake.   It's head was tangled in the netting so it wouldn't have ever escaped.   I found a scissors and went to work cutting it loose.  It was tangled in numerous spots and didn't move very much during the process.

Once I cut it loose, I grabbed it by the base of the head and deposited it in the vegetable growing area where I have been plagued by some bothersome pocket gophers.    It curled up and tried biting me as I was looking to see if there were any wounds on it.   A snake will always be a snake.   It then crawled off and hid in the row of kale.   Diamond, my helper isn't sure whether she wants to ever harvest kale again.   I assured her that it will move on.  

Here's a image of the snake trapped in the netting.   I was sad that the other one wasn't alive and will not ever use this netting again considering the danger to snakes.  The other two images are of the snake after it was released.   It looked like it was 3 feet long or so.    As scary as they look, they are an asset to any farm considering that rodents and a major pest.   I have lost a third of my tomato plants to pocket gophers.

Here are some stock images of gopher snakes from the internet so I believe I am correctly identifying this snake.

Pacific gopher snake
The Pacific gopher snake is a subspecies of large nonvenomous colubrid snake native to the western coast of the United States. Wikipedia
Scientific namePituophis catenifer catenifer