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Sunday, February 20, 2011

More Snowy Scenes from the Cuyamaca Mountains

Some wintery images from the trip to the mailbox by the lake.

Lake Cuyamaca and Stonewall Peak

Snowy casualties of the Cedar Fire

Last light on Stonewall Peak

Icy oak leaves along Engineers Road

This Red-tailed Hawk had a companion when we first spotted it, but the second bird decided to leave as we crept closer for a photo. There was clearly some impressive snow and wind at this spot last night!

El Capitan in sunset light. There are little bits of snow visible in the foreground.

Finally Some Snow!

And good timing, too - on the weekend!

This is the first real snow of the season, and it only added up to about three inches, but that's plenty, I'd say. And it's melting fast now that the sun is up.
The ground squirrels' boulder field. I'm sure they are cozy in their burrows.

The Toyon still has its berries.

The landscape looking to the west. Just a hint of sun on the slopes on the left. Hard to believe that this a color photo!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Mountain Lion Among Us

Although it is not news that there are plenty of mountain lions in the area, it is still exciting to get confirmation of their presence. Last Sunday evening, as we sat on the patio watching the sunset, we heard a flurry of dog barking from the northwest. Not long after a phone call from the neighbors explained it - one of the dogs had treed a full grown mountain lion! About two weeks ago, as I was driving home on Sandy Creek Road (about half a mile from our house) a domestic cat-sized creature scuttled into the brush in front of my car. What seemed odd about it was its SPOTTED coat (as opposed to tabby striped) and rounded ears set low on the head, combined with a long tail. In retrospect, this creature seemed reminiscent of a mountain lion cub, although my look at it was too brief to be sure.

Perhaps we have a mother with cubs in the area. Deer (and crepuscular or nocturnal human hikers) beware!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Why Create This Blog?

A little over five years ago, my husband Gary and I moved away from the San Diego suburbs and into the relative wilderness of the Cuyamaca Mountains of southern California. The area had been burned extensively in 2003 by the Cedar fire, but still retained much beauty and a real sense of wildness, something that is difficult to find in this crowded part of the world.

The plant and animal life here has been far more diverse and wonderful than I ever expected, and I have seen many new "life" species, ranging from long-sought amphibians like the California Tree Frog to spectacular insects like Ergates spiculatus. The original habitat consisted of a mix of pines, cedars, live oaks, black oaks and chaparral species like manzanita and Ceonothus. Recovery since the fire has been slow but steady, and today the landscape actually looks more green than burned, a major milestone!

I hope the nature observations here provide insight and pleasure to fellow nature-lovers in "The Woods" and beyond!

California Tree Frog, Pseudacris cadaverina, found in our Porta-potty during house construction!

Ergates spiculatus, one of the largest local beetles. This is a female, and she is about 55 mm or a little over two inches long.