Friday, September 23, 2016

Deer Dynamics and Much-needed RAIN

For the past several weeks we have seen a doe with twin (spotted) fawns on or near our property, usually several times per week. The doe is unusually "reddish"-hued, so easy to recognize.

Last weekend we were outside doing various small projects and the trio were nearby browsing on vegetation. A sudden noise startled them, and I saw one fawn move downhill while the doe and second fawn went in the opposite direction. Later that afternoon, at dusk, we saw a single fawn in the landscape slowly moving uphill towards a neighbor's property. Then about ten minutes later, we saw the doe and single fawn walking in a very different direction! What could be done? Nothing of course. We could only let nature take its course and hope that the lost fawn would find its family again.

Come Monday, I looked out a window and saw an adult deer with a spotted fawn. I looked more closely to see if there was a second fawn, but it didn't appear that there was one. Then upon craning to get a better angle...there it was - the second spotted fawn. The family did reunite.

I captured one photo of the three of them as they wended through the landscape. One of the fawns is right in the middle of the picture - well camouflaged.

Family of mule deer - reunited.
Monday and Tuesday (and a little bit on Wednesday), we had a fantastic drenching from the remains of Hurricane Paine. It didn't bring us any "paine" - just MUCH-needed precip! In the end we received a little over an inch - a lot for September. Many local trees and shrubs were getting stressed from almost four months with virtually no rain, so this might take the pressure off them for a little while, anyway.

On Wednesday, I saw a vigorous-looking yellow mass popping out of a tree on our walk. Today it had matured a bit more - a shelf fungus. In general there don't seem to be too many other fungi popping up, though.

Looks like Laetiporus gilbertsonii (the Sulphur Shelf) - the west coast version of the "Chicken of the Woods" (Laetiporus sulphureus). 
For comparison, here are photos of the eastern Laetiporus sulphureus ("Chicken of the Woods). This was a massive fruiting body that I found on our short stay at Kilen Woods, Minnesota, back in 2012.


  1. Just spoke to my mum in El Cajon over the phone just now. She mention the three days of light rain. That's nice, but not enough. In those cities there is so much water runoff from human infrastructure and it somply heads towards the Pacific Ocean. When I was there in September in 2014, there was another tropical storm that September which dumped pretty good. Not all at once, but light to medium steady rain all day long. The temperature was warm as was the rain itself, but it felt wonderful. Very humid, but most plants like that. All my mum's yard is pretty much native plants now. When I was there I was in short pants and T-Shirt with Sandals. I had a Home Deport organge five gallon pail which O used to collect massive amounts of water from the curb which was considerable. It filled instantaneously and I'd dump in arouns trees and shrubs. No conventional methods of landscape maintenance have ever been done in her large front yard other than trimming. I never ever fertilize - "EVER" becaue the mycorrhizal network does the job for me on the native and some non-natives. Everything works perfect together as I companion planted with selected plants which do exceptionally well together. Every year I apply a 3 inch layer of new shredded bark mulch which is cheap here, especially if you can get a tree trimming company to dump their load for free which allows them not to travel to a landfill and pay a fee. It breaks down wonderfully and slowly by the soil biome organisms and in turn the plants benefit. As a result I also never get blight attacks or any other pest issues.

    California in general is suffering in nature. As tough as chaparral is, they too are incredibly stressed as I've never seen befoe in that plant community. I really believe if things do not turn around, most of SoCal will lose all their forests. Planting and reforestation projects like the did in the old dats with bare root will not work anymore. From what I've read, even the Cuyamaca planting where they obliterated chaparral have not done so well as in the past and I guess they even had to supplement water because of the lack of rainfall in the beginning. Before I left Anza, the forestry was doing the same thing with tractor and water trailors. I stumbled upon a device made by a
    Dutch company over here which looks promising in tree establishment. If the trees can reach subsoil moisture, then they might have a change. Unfortunately many areas have little subterannean moisture as a result of this terrible drought. The large old growth chaparral which will have root systems growing several meters downward are also looking stressed and indicates moisture reserves below are disappearing. The Groasis device though needs to be more cost effective. They have come up with a water proof type of cardboard but it's still a little high. I have a freind from the Escondido area who is also here in Sweden and his company has come up with a patented process where wood lignin slurrry can be compressed through a process of making the cardboard like plastic and I've connected the two of them together and it seems this could be a cheaper answer to costs and ecology of the product. I created a couple of articles on this, here is one of them.

    Groasis Waterboxx: Desert Greening, Root Infrastructure Development, Water Savings, Teaching Kids Nature, etc, etc, etc

    BTW, I like the deer browsing photos. I have always observed deer doing more browsing than grazing. So when I here about the need for fire to open up space for grasses to grow, because that's what native Americans did, I often cringe. There is a bigger story to that, but very few appreciate some iconoclst disrupting their worldview on that. It's another subjecy, so I'll spare you. *smile*

    PS, please excuse any spelling mistakes, I write on the run and frequently become interupted

  2. I agree about the loss of our forests in southern California. Every year, now, we see probably a dozen or more mature trees (black oak, pine, live oak, etc.) die due to either native bark beetles (the pines) or the Goldspotted Oak Borer, or other combinations of stress, all drought related in one way or another. And that is just on our normal "routes" to and from work, etc. In general, the chaparral plants seem to be hanging in, although sometimes even a manzanita will up and die with no warning. If climate change in S. California will mean drier conditions, we had best become accustomed to a shrub-land environment.

    1. Chaparral has always had a tough go of it when it has come to human opinion. I believe the forests of the southern Sierra Nevadas will be replaced by chaparral as will the central coast ranges.

  3. Yes, sadly it is seen too often as "easily-bulldozable". It is a very rich and diverse ecosystem of its own.

  4. Hey I just discovered your blog while looking for info on Ringtail Cats in Julian because there's been some suspicious tracks on the property. This deer post caught my attention because I caught some trail cam pictures of a spotted fawn back in August. My family and I moved out to Kentwood a few months ago and this blog is really helpful with learning about the local wildlife.

    1. Great - glad to hear it! We are essentially inundated in deer now - they always seem more noticeable in fall...