Jan 31, 2010: Still lots of Lewis woodpeckers out here at the Dunning Ranch. Green grass, green mosses, lush lichens. Occasionally a soft breeze stirs long strands of lichens on the oaks. Dale and I are here with camera and sketchbook enjoying winter sunshine, damp air, and the rustle of the creek.
Dale stops to show me an alligator lizard also capturing the sun’s warmth. The ten inch long lizard is frozen in place, on the dark tire lane on this seldom used road. Pale yellow eyes keep a wary watch on us. Sometime in the past, half his tail broke off(a defensive measure) and is now nearly regrown. The new half is a little shinier and richer in color.
Some of the road has long skinny puddles. A coyote has trotted in and out of the puddles, leaving fresh tracks left since we first passed. I bet he is watching us. The tire lane puddles yield more surprises for us. The shallow water is full of very small black water beetles, and small backswimmers. We never expected them to be out in January.... and finally mysterious tracks in the silt bottom of a shallow puddle. The total width of the animal is about three inches. Our best guess is shrew mole or pocket gopher.