Blog

Returning to Lichens

January 17, 2024 Once again, I want to talk about lichens. January is the best time to see these unusual organisms because the leaves are gone from the trees, and the rain brings them to life as they spread on the trunks and branches. California is home to over 2000 species of lichen. Lichens are…

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The Short-eared Owl

January 10, 2023 Recently, a Short-eared Owl was observed on the Willits Mitigation Lands. It was captured on a wildlife camera that was facing a regularly used perch in the middle of the valley. This caught my attention immediately because, although fairly common and widespread, this species has yet to be documented on the property…

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The Winter Solstice

January 3, 2024 While walking through the Willits Mitigation Lands in Little Lake Valley, I noticed a shift in the quality of light. The holidays have passed, and the winter solstice has arrived and gone. A few more minutes each day doesn’t seem to be a huge difference, but I see and feel it. On…

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Winter is Here 2023

It finally feels like we are entering winter here in the Willits Valley. The ground is saturated enough to fill our local creeks and the sound of flowing water is not only a welcome relief from the dryness of summer, but also soothing and gives me joy to hear it. With the end of 2023…

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Two Large New World Sparrows

November 21, 2023 As fall continues, leaves cover the ground, trees become silhouettes, bird nests are exposed, and it is much easier to see any bird in a tree. As I look around, the raptors that have migrated here from the northern plains are easy to spot which has me constantly surveying the treetops. Yesterday…

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More About Turkey Vultures

November 15, 2023 One of the birds that is resident here but seems to increase in number during the fall and winter months, is the large and magnificent Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura. This often-maligned bird is an essential and important member of our food web. Without scavengers, like the Turkey Vulture to clean up dead…

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More About Mosses

November 6th, 2023 This time of the year the Bryophytes begin to shine. Mosses, liverworts, and hornworts are all around us! Liverworts and mosses can get confused while the hornworts are quite distinctive. This blog will be about mosses and their role in the ecosystem. The oak woodland on the upland area of the Willits…

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Fall Sparrow Migration

October 24, 2023 As the seasons cycle through the Willits Little Lake Valley, it is time once again for the return of several species of sparrows that are only here in the fall and winter months. The White and Golden-crowned Sparrows have arrived in large numbers, along with Lincoln’s, Savannah, and Fox Sparrows. The Song…

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The Northern Broad-footed Mole

October 15th, 2023 While driving our small electric vehicle out in the valley to check on wildlife cameras, my colleague Rob and I observed a small mammal in the narrow grassy roadway. It was instant recognition because I had seen the same creature in my garden earlier in the summer. This was a Broad-footed mole,…

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Tule Elk on the Mitigation Lands

Week of October 1st, 2023 Autumn has arrived and the shift in day length, nighttime temperatures, and even the quality of the light is a pleasant change from the intensity of summer. The days out on the Mitigation Project are lovely as the colors of the trees and shrubs are changing and the background is…

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A Deadly Predator

September 26, 2023 Following up on last week’s blog, I have been researching and observing the praying mantis that occupies the large swaths of grasslands of Little Lake Valley. It is astounding to see the sheer number of these “deadly predators” we have flying and crawling about. They are called deadly predators because of their…

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