Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Red House Project
The replacements for the venerable Red House shack are nearing completion. We are in the final efforts to connect then houses to water, sewer, electric power, gas and phone. For those of you who want to track this, here is a slide show with some recent images.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring Flowers are in Full Bloom
The flowers are Hastings are in full bloom and the hills are emerald again. Here is a photo by Prof. David Ackerly who was visiting from Berkeley last week. Slide show of Hastings flowers (click here).
Painted Lady Flight is On

Thousands of Painted Lady butterflies, Vanessa cardui, are flying east down Robertson Creek and Finch Creek today (3/28/09). These flights are not uncommon here in the upper Carmel Valley. It is still a sight to behold and these colorful insects zip past, dodging trees, shrubs at a very fast pace. The afternoon temperatures were in the low 80's along Finch Creek, but we noticed a strong breeze from the west on the hills of about 10-12 mph all afternoon kept the hilltops of Hastings in the mid-70s. There we almost now wind along the creek bottoms where the butterflies were abundant from mid-morning to evening. We counted about 100 per minute crossing a yard of about 80 ft. x 100 ft.

It took many tries with a butterfly net to finally snag one so we could identify it. We have one photo of the open wings, and one of the butterfly when the wings are folded. Thanks to Andrew Stromberg for his energetic butterfly net work. Today, March 29, we drove from Hastings (where the flight has slowed dramatically) to Carmel and Monterey. There, there were large numbers of butterflies flying north, about 100/min. over say, a gas station parking lot. And Mike Hamilton, on the Blue Oak Reserve on Mt. Hamilton also reports about 100/min. passing over a similarly-sized sampling area the Blue Oak Reserve headquarters. Mark Readdie at the Big Creek Reserve in Big Sur reports that the flight of butterflies does not extend down that far south along the coast.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

California Native Grass Association Workshop: Sustainable Grazing
Sustainable Grazing. Register now for an exciting 3-day, 2-night
CNGA workshop at the Hastings Reserve in Upper Carmel Valley, March
18-20. Includes classroom instruction and site visits that focus on
sustainable grazing plans to manage native grasslands. Instructors:
Kent Reeves and Richard King. Continental breakfast, lunch, and 2
dinners included. Accommodations are extra, inexpensive, and easily
reserved on the CNGA website, www.cnga.org, or by calling Judy at
530-661-2280. Fees: $245/CNGA members, $285/nonmembers, $135/

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Shaggy Pig Story
I was in a auto repair shop last week. When the guys behind the counter heard I lived in Carmel Valley, they started asking me about the terrific reputation of the ferocious tuskers. I tried to explain that if you so much as sneezed at a herd, it would run away as fast as possible. In part, this is because they are hunted everywhere. But fierce? In day after day of tracking the acorn woodpeckers, our hard-working field assistants often spend parts of each day in blind. This canvas and nylon tent is occasionally approached by these "fierce creatures". Anna Brownson was able to capture these images with her pocket digital camera. Anna can confirm that so much as a rustle in the tent and the pigs panic and run away as fast as they can. Huff and puff. Here is a slide show of the piggies.

Rainbow over Hastings- March 2, 2009. Photo by Anna Brownson.

Rains stop. Start again. Repeat.
Here we are at the end of February, looking at the long-term average of 15.34" to date, and we have 12.57". Not exactly a drought breaker. Well, this is not all that bad, considering we have had exactly 6" of rain in February. The isolated showers of early March would drift past on the strong breezes, leaving intervals of sunlight and sometimes a rare rainbow. Anna caught one.

Finch Creek, March 3, 2009.

Our flowers are emerging, with the white milkmaids, or toothwort (Cardamine californica) are as often, the first to show up. Spring showers have been going on and on, and now Finch Creek swells at times to overflow the crossing, but most days it just fills the culverts. No steelhead have been seen, but the flow has only gone on for a few weeks. The giraffe's heads (Lamium amplexicaule) are also flowering along the roads. Turkey vultures are back and oak buds are swelling. Spring is soon.