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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Bobcat Turkey Kill: The Aftermath

The day after we saw the resident Bobcat kill a Wild Turkey, we looked around for signs of the turkey carcass.

Before systematically searching, Gary decided to water the two baby Incense Cedar trees that we recently planted on the property. After watering the first one, he noticed that the little berm around the second one was disturbed and the dirt pushed over to one side of the tree. A little prodding revealed...a fresh turkey leg!

Turkey leg unearthed from its cache.

Bobcats are known to cache excess food for future consumption, so this seems likely to be a snack stored for later.

Then we walked over to the area that we saw the cat with the turkey. There was a mass of feathers at what must have been the initial attack site. We did not witness that event the other evening.

Turkey feathers of all kinds.

Then we checked out the spots where we saw the bobcat with the turkey in its mouth, and saw more feathers.

At one point we saw the cat spit a bunch of smaller feathers out, in the spot shown above.

Then we followed the trail of feathers to the edge of a thick area of vegetation which would be almost impossible to penetrate (for a human), so we gave up.

The leg was several hundred yards downslope from these feather areas, so the cat was busy during the night (if it indeed was responsible for caching it).

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Bobcat Vanquishes a TURKEY!

This evening in the last moments of daylight, we were sitting out on our patio, and heard a swishing of leaves on the neighboring property. Looking that way, we saw one of the resident bobcats with a wild turkey in its grip. The turkey was alive and thrashing around a bit; thus the noise. The bobcat proceeded to drag the turkey a short distance away, and at times paused to look at US with feathers in its mouth. Eventually it dragged the turkey upslope out of sight.

Within minutes, many crows gathered and made a massive ruckus of cawing -- typical behavior around the bobcat, as in the past the bobcat's movements through the landscape was trackable by following the noise of the jays and other birds.

Tomorrow we'll look around to see if the turkey carcass is still in the area.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Deer Bot Flies at Lake Morena

After reading Margarethe Brummermann's blog post yesterday about bot flies, I became intrigued by the fuzzy, bumblebee-mimic deer bot fly pictured in the post:

Then I consulted Lynn Monroe's new book: "Desert Insects and Kin of Southern California: A Photographic Survey and Natural History - Anza Borrego Desert State Park" and became convinced that these bot flies might not only exist in the region, but that they might be out and about at this time of year.

So after meeting Gary's son Ted at the Mexican border to see him off on his Pacific Crest Trail adventure, Gary and I decided to take a hike at Lake Morena, convenient and close by. I did not really expect perfect "hill top" conditions (hill-topping is the habit of some insects of congregating at a high point like the top of a hill or mountain and often establishing territories, in an attempt to intercept passing potential mates). Bot flies are known for this behavior, and amazingly, after a false alarm, in which I thought a smaller carpenter bee was a bot fly (!), we actually FOUND deer bot flies perched and periodically flying about at a high point in the chaparral overlooking the lake!

Cephenemyia jellisoni, a Deer Bot Fly. This specimen was captured at Lake Morena, southern San Diego County, on April 20, 2013. 

Dorsal view of Cephenemyia jellisoni, deer bot fly. Lake Morena, April 20, 2013.
These flies do not feed as adults, but after mating, females will deposit tiny larvae in the nasal cavities of Mule Deer. The maggots can reach as much as an inch in length, and will develop inside the respiratory passages of the deer.  Later the maggots will be sneezed out, to eventually pupate in the ground and emerge as an adult fly. Apparently this does little harm to the deer, despite its repulsiveness to humans.

The "hill top" at Lake Morena. Rich chaparral habitat. 
Lake Morena, San Diego County, California.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Diversion to the Algodones Dunes in Imperial County, California

The dunes were somewhat dry today, as the whole region has had so little rain since the beginning of the year, but the Palo Verdes were flowering in a massive display the likes of which I've never seen before in many springs of visiting them.

The Palo Verde forest about 2 miles north of Glamis, at the edge of the dunes. 

One of the blooming trees along Ted Kipf Road.

Seven-spotted Lady Beetle (Coccinella septempunctata) on Palo Verde.

A little dried mushroom, probably dating back to last summer after the heavy monsoonal rains.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox). This medium-sized individual was sunning itself on the east side of a stand of shrubbery. Gave me a scare when I first spotted it!