Through the fall so far, the wildlife cameras have continued to offer an enchanting insight into the usually unscrutinized, quiet shiftings of our habitat.
We’re obviously looking for animal activity on the cameras, but sometimes late or wind-blown-plant triggers capture some beautiful moments from the little ecosystems the cameras overlook.
Daily, nightly, a lot of the same animals appear over and over, filling up the SD cards with hundreds of iterations of the same pieces, in snapshots or 15-second installments, of the same stories. This can be challenging to process, but we love the way we’ve come to know the patterns of some of our wildlife’s lives, and even know individuals.
We love this opportunity to learn about and appreciate each little story: the summer evenings where spidery crane flies fill the creek’s small barranca well with their dramatic bumbling — skittering, over-exposed, in the capture of the infrared lights;
the black phoebe caught, again and again, in Muybridge frozen energy, in aerial sallies on winged insects attracted to the big pond in the afternoon warmth;
the long, still moments as an animal just stands, and looks, pulls in the air and lets its carried scents and noises sink in.
And, of course, we do still covet the unusual — even, playfully, the impossible: as any kid knows, dreaming (im)possibilities is half the fun of any endeavor (“Iron-flanked and bellowing he-hippos clanked and battered through the scudding snow towards us as we passed Mr. Daniel’s house.”). What could come here? I want rare birds to thoughtfully pose, in focus, on the cameras — and also to see a weasel. Maybe lots of weasels. And a scissor-tailed flycatcher would be great. Mom wants hedgehogs and foxes. Reasonable, right?
Well, turns out the foxes are pretty reasonable!
Who knows whether foxes have come through the property before. Who knows if one ever will again — or if it will pass through in a place and fashion that allows our cameras to record it. Tantalizing and wonderful!
(And my weasel dream looks brighter than ever!)
Quotation from A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas
Finch Frolic Garden is located in Fallbrook,CA, in sunny San Diego’s North County. Dry and hot conditions are the norm, with temperatures rising above 100 in the summer,and an occasional frost in the winter.
A rain around Thanksgiving means lawnmowers are humming around New Years. This past year, 2014, has experienced strange weather as has the rest of the world. We had back-to back Santa Anas (hot, dry, high winds from off the desert) in May, which caused many trees and plants to drop flowers. The lack of food and water induced many animals to not reproduce, which affected the rest of the food chain. Then we had fire season in May as well. Unfortunately arson was the cause of some of the fires, but many homes were lost as well as hundreds of acres of our precious endangered chaparral and the baby animals that lived there.
Our heat wave came in June, and our ‘June gloom’ – a marine cloud cover – came in July. We had several significant rain events in late Fall, and then on New Year’s eve, it snowed.
So many of you who live in snowy areas are saying, “Who cares?” The last snowfall in our inland valley area was in the late 60’s when I was probably 8 or 9 years old. I lived with my sister and parents in Carlsbad, a town west of here. All I remember about it is that my dad made a snowball and froze it, and in the summer threw it at the neighbor.
On the 30th we received an inch and a quarter of cold, Canadian rain overnight. The rain came in heavy showers and swales we’d created had filled and prevented flooding. In the morning I looked out on a white garden.
Not everyone in the area received snow this week, but streets were icy, nearby Temecula was covered as were all the mountains even those west of here.
The landscape looked like a large powdered sugar shaker had been at work overnight.
Again about 10:30 in the morning snowflakes fell and strangers grinned at each other in delight.
Not so the growers of frost-intolerant plants such as avocados, citrus, succulents and tropicals. After the snow we have had clear, frosty nights which have done more damage than the snow had.
I don’t expect overwintering tomatoes this year, and we’ve been harvesting the last of our zucchino rampicante, eggplant, jalapenos and tomatoes, and marking where the sweet potatoes lie underground.
Our hens aren’t happy about the weather change. We hung towels and tacked up cardboard in their coop for insulation, although now it looks like a cheap harem. Today I bought a heat lamp to keep them warmer.
Most of them are done molting except, of course, the Turken or naked-neck. Besides having a naturally bare neck, poor Malika has dropped over half of her feathers and has no insulation at all. Its a good thing that days aren’t frozen, too.
By Monday daytime temperatures will be in the low 70’s again, and I’ll be worrying about planting spring crops already; despite the snow, there really isn’t a winter here. However, I thought I’d share some New Year’s eve photos of Finch Frolic Garden in the snow – not something I’d ever thought I’d see.