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San Diego County Cache Critters


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Saturday, 7/1/2006

I enjoyed quite a birding adventure on a run up to No Hinty on McGinty mid-morning on this toasty Saturday. It has been a few years since I was last up on top and I was pleased to have the mountain to myself today. Of course, high humidity and temperatures in the mid-90s do tend to thin out potential visitors. As I approached the summit rocks, a huge flock of swallows lifted off and swarmed overhead. Their under wing coloration, square tails, and buff throats suggested Northern Rough-winged Swallows (Stelgidoteryx serripennis) but the terrain isn't quite right for a species that prefers sand banks. Any birders out there care to offer a second opinion?

-GD

 

Swallow swarms

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As I was running back down the trail, I came upon a pair of Red-tailed Hawks ridge soaring at almost eye level. I got so captivated watching them circle, drop, flap, circle again that I ended up stuck to that spot for a half hour. Here are some of their maneuvers.

 

Over-the-shoulder view

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Soaring to a backdrop of thunderheads

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The occasional flap

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Spectacular overflight

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During the time I was taking in the Buteo show, a female Anna's Hummingbird alighted nearby for a few moments, too.

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Huey and Dewey are now about 9 days old now! Huey was squirming so much this morning he fell out of the nest and he fell about 4 feet to the cement. We didn't see it happen but when we came out to check on them, we saw him laying on the cement. I thought he was dead for sure! :D Anyhow, I held a piece of pine bark mulch nxt to him and he grabbed it right away with his feet. I carefully lifted him and put him back into the nest. The good news is that he looks OK now and the Mom is still feeding them every couple of hours! They are so big that Mom can't fit into the nest so she hangs out in a nearby bush!

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Huey is on the left and Dewey is on the right.

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Took this a few minutes before Mom came to feed them.

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Huey and Dewey are now about 9 days old now! Huey was squirming so much this morning he fell out of the nest and he fell about 4 feet to the cement. We didn't see it happen but when we came out to check on them, we saw him laying on the cement. I thought he was dead for sure! :D Anyhow, I held a piece of pine bark mulch nxt to him and he grabbed it right away with his feet. I carefully lifted him and put him back into the nest. The good news is that he looks OK now and the Mom is still feeding them every couple of hours! They are so big that Mom can't fit into the nest so she hangs out in a nearby bush!

 

Took this a few minutes before Mom came to feed them.

Sounds like a full-time parenting job going on at the Gators. So much responsibility ...

-GD

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Monday, 7/3/2006

After hiking up Marsh Wash to visit TweenerPak1 near the very much closed Aqua Caliente County Park, I returned to enjoy lunch in the shade of some huge tamarisks near the park store. While I was eating, a Roadrunner ambled up and flapped up to one of the lower branches and started making "crackling" sounds similar to those made by grasshoppers. Not sure what its message was since I seemed to be the only other living creature out and about on this hot, muggy day. Of course, I did not have my camera with me until after lunch and my new friend worked his way nearly to the top of the tamarisk - still chattering away.

-GD

 

Roadrunner territory - at the top

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Crackle, crackle

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Huey and Dewey are now about 9 days old now! Huey was squirming so much this morning he fell out of the nest and he fell about 4 feet to the cement. We didn't see it happen but when we came out to check on them, we saw him laying on the cement. I thought he was dead for sure! :D Anyhow, I held a piece of pine bark mulch nxt to him and he grabbed it right away with his feet. I carefully lifted him and put him back into the nest. The good news is that he looks OK now and the Mom is still feeding them every couple of hours! They are so big that Mom can't fit into the nest so she hangs out in a nearby bush!

 

Took this a few minutes before Mom came to feed them.

Sounds like a full-time parenting job going on at the Gators. So much responsibility ...

-GD

Well Huey ended up falling out of the nest two more times. I came out this morning and he was on the ground again and this time ants were getting ready to eat him. :D We are pretty convinced that the mother has rejected him for some reason. He now has a big bump around his neck (might be broken?) but he is still squirming around. My wife tried to feed him sugar water with an eyedropper, but he won't open his mouth. Anyhow, he's now spending his final hours on top of a cottonball on a table in the shade of our patio. :D

 

The good news is that Dewey is doing well! :D

Edited by TrailGators
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I wonder if mom knew he had some unseen thing wrong with him that would keep him from thriving?
That is my guess. I guess I sort of got attached to them after watching them everyday for the last two weeks.... :D

 

You might give drexotic a call or e-mail. He knows about wild things and maybe can help!!!

He knew the answers to my questions about squirrels, etc.

Now, you have gotten all of us attached to them!

Splashette

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I wonder if mom knew he had some unseen thing wrong with him that would keep him from thriving?
That is my guess. I guess I sort of got attached to them after watching them everyday for the last two weeks.... :D

 

You might give drexotic a call or e-mail. He knows about wild things and maybe can help!!!

He knew the answers to my questions about squirrels, etc.

Now, you have gotten all of us attached to them!

Splashette

Update: Huey is dead and Dewey flew off last night. So ends the Hummer saga. Edited by TrailGators
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Friday, 7/7/2006

With the sad passing of Huey and Dewey, I thought I might lighten up the Cache Critter Forum with a story of a flying lizard - no kidding.

 

I did not have my camera out so no photos on this one. I doubt I could have captured the event any way since everything happened so fast.

 

After climbing Carrizo Mountain northeast of Ocotillo this morning, I went for an exploratory loop hike up one of the side canyons of middle Painted Gorge. After climbing to a ridgeline and looping around to gain some perspective on the complexity of this drainage, I discovered and started to descend an obscure single track that looked like it would eventually get me back down to the main gorge. A few minutes along the way, a fairly large Side-blotched Lizard dashed lickity split across the trail just a few steps in front of me. Next thing I know, it is flying through the air, legs still going furiously, and is perhaps as much as 8 feet above the ground. That's because the other side of the path dropped off very steeply toward the gorge. This animal olympian landed about 15 feet out from it's launch point. Looking over the edge I expected to see a seriously stunned lizard at the end of this trajectory, but no, it barely missed a stride and just kept on running down the hill.

 

To put this into perspective, at 6 inches long including tail, that's about 30 times its body length. This would be like a human leaping 180 feet and coming to a running landing after falling 96 feet vertically! :laughing:

-GD

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Friday, 7/7/2006

With the sad passing of Huey and Dewey, I thought I might lighten up the Cache Critter Forum with a story of a flying lizard - no kidding.

 

I did not have my camera out so no photos on this one. I doubt I could have captured the event any way since everything happened so fast.

 

After climbing Carrizo Mountain northeast of Ocotillo this morning, I went for an exploratory loop hike up one of the side canyons of middle Painted Gorge. After climbing to a ridgeline and looping around to gain some perspective on the complexity of this drainage, I discovered and started to descend an obscure single track that looked like it would eventually get me back down to the main gorge. A few minutes along the way, a fairly large Side-blotched Lizard dashed lickity split across the trail just a few steps in front of me. Next thing I know, it is flying through the air, legs still going furiously, and is perhaps as much as 8 feet above the ground. That's because the other side of the path dropped off very steeply toward the gorge. This animal olympian landed about 15 feet out from it's launch point. Looking over the edge I expected to see a seriously stunned lizard at the end of this trajectory, but no, it barely missed a stride and just kept on running down the hill.

 

To put this into perspective, at 6 inches long including tail, that's about 30 times its body length. This would be like a human leaping 180 feet and coming to a running landing after falling 96 feet vertically! :laughing:

-GD

Interesting story Don! It is amazing how strong animals are pound for pound. Huey was about 0.75" long and fell 48." That's like one of us falling out of a 35 story building! :rolleyes: The amazing part is that he did it 3 times! He was one tough cookie too! :rolleyes:

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Great story!

 

Last night on our hike back in the dark, we saw what looked like a little blinking LED light on the trail in front of us. It turned out to be a spider with long skinny legs. I didn't take a picture. :rolleyes:

 

By . . . that . . . time . . . who . . . could . . . think . . . of . . . photography . . . :laughing:

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Friday, 7/7/2006

On top of Carrizo Mountain shortly after sitting down on a rock near this cache and the summit register, this Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) cruised up to check me out. It circled, and circled, and circled, getting a bit lower each time, finally getting within 50 feet overhead - so close it was tricky to keep my camera trained on it as it circled my position. I suppose the situation could have become pretty exciting - and probably worthy of a Harmon story - if it had landed next to me. However, I finally stood up to help it decide a Gecko wasn't going to be that great a meal after all.

-Gecko Dad

 

Close

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... and closer

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Sunday, 7/16/2006

I saw hardly any critters on my 11-mile run in the MTRP Spring Canyon area. Perhaps the 102 degree temperature had something to do with that. Mad Dogs and Englishmen! - and heat tolerant Geckos. The critter highlight of my outing was a White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus) that was hanging out above"DELIVERANCE" at the far northern end of the canyon. Kites are medium-sized hawks whose signature behavior is hovering over open areas, then plummeting to the ground to catch their main fare - rodents.

-GD

 

The buff-colored throat indicates this is probably a first year juvenile

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Another view

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102 degrees. Honey bees casting tall shadows at high noon near Jutht Whithtle Ohtay?.

Didn't need the text for this one -- I knew right where this picture was taken as soon as I saw it...

 

It's funny. I never had any problems with any of the caches near bee hives in MTRP, but a couple of weeks back, I accidently happened upon a hive in Rancho Bernardo. My first clue was the buzzing sound 10 feet away coming from a rotting stump, The second clue was the sharp pain on my eyebrow followed by the buzzing sound around my head. It's not something I'd like to repeat anytime soon.

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Saturday, 7/29/2006

Enjoyed a day of cooler temperatures in the northern section of Cleveland National Forest with Ruscal. We hiked 10 miles round trip up to Sitton Peak in the San Mateo Wilderness, not realizing there was a cache to log there. There were so many great lizard photo-ops that I posted a note to the cache page so I could share them. We saw four horned lizards along different parts of our route, including the summit, and some remarkably banded scaly lizards that I believe are Western Fence Lizards (Sceloporus) with a local color variation unlike any I have seen before. Checkout the mini-mite Coast Horned Lizard.

-Gecko Dad

 

A scaly encounter

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Big Coastie

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Check out the banding on this guy at the summit

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Lounging around

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Mini-mite

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Posing for a portrait

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Saturday, 7/29/2006

Enjoyed a day of cooler temperatures in the northern section of Cleveland National Forest with Ruscal. We hiked 10 miles round trip up to Sitton Peak in the San Mateo Wilderness, not realizing there was a cache to log there. There were so many great lizard photo-ops that I posted a note to the cache page so I could share them. We saw four horned lizards along different parts of our route, including the summit, and some remarkably banded scaly lizards that I believe are Western Fence Lizards (Sceloporus) with a local color variation unlike any I have seen before. Checkout the mini-mite Coast Horned Lizard.

-Gecko Dad

 

 

You missed another one on the trail at Four Corners as well. Your picture was taken less than 100 feet from a small cache hidden there. <_<

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Saturday, 7/29/2006

Enjoyed a day of cooler temperatures in the northern section of Cleveland National Forest with Ruscal. We hiked 10 miles round trip up to Sitton Peak in the San Mateo Wilderness, not realizing there was a cache to log there. There were so many great lizard photo-ops that I posted a note to the cache page so I could share them. We saw four horned lizards along different parts of our route, including the summit, and some remarkably banded scaly lizards that I believe are Western Fence Lizards (Sceloporus) with a local color variation unlike any I have seen before. Checkout the mini-mite Coast Horned Lizard.

-Gecko Dad

 

 

You missed another one on the trail at Four Corners as well. Your picture was taken less than 100 feet from a small cache hidden there. :(

 

Guess I'll just have to go back sometime. Always looking for excuses to be on the trail. Might see a few more of these Giant Horned Lizards that are cleverly disguised as ... sand! :D

-GD

 

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Saturday, 7/29/2006

 

Guess I'll just have to go back sometime. Always looking for excuses to be on the trail. Might see a few more of these Giant Horned Lizards that are cleverly disguised as ... sand! <_<

-GD

 

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Amazing camo! We've seen many of these this year--more than any year I can remember. I'm not sure why that should be. They seem less shy about having their pictures taken too. We got very close to one on El Cajon Mountain recently. Beautiful shot!

 

And Don, if you are heading back to the Santa Ana's for a hike, you might want to check out Old Sugarloaf by Dr. Bob. Only 4 visitors (3 visits) in over 3 years. The hike is beautiful and their are several caches you can pick up on the way.

Edited by Snake & Rooster
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10b3815b-12fe-4c43-981f-1277e3abb933.jpg
Amazing camo!

That is amazing cammo! The detail is fantastic but I really wonder how this can be helpful to the animal. I can only think that there must be some biological advantage in being picked up and deposited into a soda machine... :ph34r:<_<:ph34r::ph34r:

 

(Seriously, though, that really is amazing cammo!)

 

So...how many times have we accidently stepped on these guys? Would we even see it move based on the camo?

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Saturday, 7/29/2006

Sevenspotted Ladybird Beetles (Coccinella spetempunctata) aka Lady Beetles or Lady Bugs. "Spotted" in large numbers on top of Santiago Peak next to Talking Mountain. This species comes from Europe and was introduced as a pest control species, primarily to perform their specialty of consuming aphids. Curiously, they have acclimated so well they have been formally designated the State Insect for Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Ohio. In the fall shortly before starting their winter hibernation, I have seen them congregate in such large numbers that they appear as carpets of red.

-GD

 

One per blossom

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Cliffhanger

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Welcome to the Ladybird Ball

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Here are some critters from our Wyoming trip (I know they aren't SD critters, but I figured if Don can post some vacation critters I can also) :laughing:

 

Humming Bird near Pinedale

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Wild Mustangs near Rock Springs

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Elk in Yellowstone

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Two Elk Resting in Yellowstone

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Eagle Perched near Jackson (We saw many eagle)

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Eagle Flying

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Moose in Grand Teton

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Fawn in Grand Teton

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Buffalo in Grand Teton

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Buck east of Grand Teton

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Saturday, 7/29/2006

While cleaning up a folder of photos taken on the hike to Sitton Peak, I came on this mug shot of the large Coast Horned Lizard we saw about mid-trek. I thought it would be fun to compare the muted and worn features of this senior citizen with the pristine "sharpness" of the newbie's.

-GD

 

Old timer

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Freshly hatched

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I never seem to be able to grab my camera in time :laughing:

 

First I missed the mountain lion in Hollenbeck Canyon last month and then this afternoon while in the area of #5 Creekside Cache I come around the corner to have a deer not more than 10 feet from me - I'm still not sure who was scared more

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