Native Wildlife

An Absence of Deer

Posted by on Dec 4, 2014 in Farm Blog, Flora and Fauna, Native Wildlife | 11 comments

An Absence of Deer

I’ve written a number of posts over the years of about our frustrations with trying to grow fruit trees, and vegetables, under tremendous deer pressure. I never expected to write a post about a paucity of deer on the farm. Usually we’re posting about deer that have raided the orchard, repeatedly,  and the kitchen garden. But this year, something has changed. The honest truth is, despite the occasional frustration at nibbled fruit trees, and devoured cucumbers, I love looking outside the window in spring, and seeing young fawns playing, and deer grazing on the grass, just outside...

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California Giant Salamander

Posted by on Jul 10, 2014 in Farm Blog, Flora and Fauna, Native Wildlife | 16 comments

California Giant Salamander

This morning was perhaps as near to perfect ‘salamander weather’ as one could hope to find mid-summer here along the coast. The coastal marine layer was so thick early this morning, there was actually some measurable precipitation. Not really enough to call it rain, per se, but the 0.03″ that misted across our woodlands this morning was enough to make everything outside damp, and give the air a fresher, more clean, aroma than it’s had in weeks. As my neighbor was attempting to leave for work early this morning in the drizzle, he stopped and called our attention to...

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Bilateral Anophthalmia in a Coast Range Newt

Posted by on Feb 3, 2014 in Farm Blog, Flora and Fauna, Native Wildlife | 13 comments

Bilateral Anophthalmia in a Coast Range Newt

It’s no secret that California is now rushing headlong into its third year of drought. Hills and fields that should be emerald green at this time of year are still end-of-summer brown. Headlines are filled with stories about water districts implementing mandatory conservation measures, reservoirs and lakes are critically low, wells are running dry, fields are being left fallow, and established orchards left to wither and die.There are many things we can do as humans to control how much water we use, or waste, over the coming months, knowing that we are unlikely to receive enough...

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The Writing Spiders Return

Posted by on Sep 18, 2013 in Farm Blog, Flora and Fauna, Native Wildlife | 18 comments

The Writing Spiders Return

I realize that I’ve posted about writing spiders before, so for more information about their feeding habits, and web construction, you can see the previous post here. However, this morning I encountered not one, but TWO species of Argiope spiders, suspended in their respective webs, less than a foot apart from each other. I was a little surprised to see them though, as I don’t usually expect to see many of these spiders until mid-late October. I first noticed this very large female Banded Garden Spider (Argiope trifasciata) a few days ago, tucked into a prostrate rosemary shrub...

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Allen’s Hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin)

Posted by on Mar 14, 2013 in Farm Blog, Flora and Fauna, Native Wildlife | 35 comments

Allen’s Hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin)

Since we first moved to the farm, each year, around mid-late winter, I’d occasionally see a flash of copper and green whiz past me in the garden. Only catching a glimpse out of the corner of my eye, I assumed they were simply migrating Rufous Hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) passing through. Then last April, every time I walked down the farm road, near a particular live oak, I’d predictably get dive-bombed, and chirped at, by a very agitated hummingbird. I spent some time watching to see where this bird would land, and eventually she landed squarely in her nest. If I hadn’t...

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Sierran Treefrog (Pseudacris sierra)

Posted by on Apr 6, 2012 in Farm Blog, Flora and Fauna, Native Wildlife | 34 comments

Sierran Treefrog (Pseudacris sierra)

In all the time we’ve been here, I’ve only ever seen one frog.  Just one.  We hear them frequently, sometimes down by the creeks, other times up on the slopes above us, but they’re rather shy, and we have some very dense woodland here, so being able to find our elusive resident frogs hasn’t been easy. This last weekend Mr. Curbstone went to retrieve the step ladder from behind the workshop, and as he carried the ladder down the hill toward the goat barn, suddenly…”plop”. He noticed that something fell out of the ladder, and landed on the driveway.  A...

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The Writing Spider (Argiope aurantia)

Posted by on Oct 11, 2011 in Farm Blog, Flora and Fauna, Native Wildlife | 33 comments

The Writing Spider (Argiope aurantia)

The Writing Spider (Argiope aurantia) is a spider of many names.  Known as the Yellow and Black Garden Spider, Golden Orb Weaver, Yellow Argiope, Corn Spider, Scribbler Spider, Golden Garden Spider, and Black and Yellow Argiope, just to name a few. Despite its many identities, this is perhaps one of the most easily recognized species of spider found in gardens all across North America.  It is found in the contiguous 48 states, and Canada, although rare throughout the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, and parts of Canada’s Great Basin. As plentiful as the common names for this species are,...

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Long-Horn Bees

Posted by on Sep 16, 2011 in Beneficial Insects, Farm Blog, Garden, Native Wildlife | 32 comments

Long-Horn Bees

This may be remembered as the year of the bee at Curbstone Valley.  It started when we installed a few hives of honey bees on the farm this spring, but we also greatly understand the importance of the native bees that frequent our crops and flowers. Research has demonstrated that diversification of pollinators is critical for farms, and that organic farms situated close to wild-land habitats may depend more on native bees for pollination, than conventional farms.  Most conventional farms are almost wholly dependent on European honey bees for pollination as they lack the habitat necessary to...

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