Sunday, April 29, 2012

                       Springtime is upon us making for incredible wildlife viewing almost everywhere.  These photos of animals were captured in the bay area. Some are older pictures including a short eared owl captured in Byron.  Recently in Byron was the red fox, and  the red shouldered hawk taking off from a hunting perch in the trees. One of my favorite areas has become the Livermore / Del Valle reservoir area and Mines Rd. The road runner and bobcat were taken in this area. Many are surprised by the road runners in the surrounding hills. Though probably not common, I see them often when cruising through the hills. Like the cartoon, the road runner stops only occasionally when out on the run. The perched red tail was in the Alhambra Valley area had just one eye,  I chose to use this photo with the birds head turned.  I thought of catching and transporting the bird to Lindsay museum, however, it took off and maneuvered perfectly through the trees not quite ready to cash in. Golden Eagle on utility perch was near Reinstein ranch on Highland Rd. in south contra costa county. The raccoons pictures were taken recently at Grizzly island wildlife refuge. This is an amazing place where it almost feels like a scene from "Dances with wolves" once you get out a ways away from the asphalt roads. In my last trip out there, I saw tule elk, trumpeter swans, all kinds of birds of prey including great horn owls nesting, pond turtles, gopher snakes and a myriad of small birds too numerous to list.  
   I wanted to share a favorite link of a close friend who is the most environmentally minded person I have ever known. Elisa Wilfong is an environmental artist and writer who has a great site dedicated to the environment and the wild animals all over the globe. She is pro recycle and practices what she preaches. Her continuing environmental cartoons are clever and witty with several animal characters from all over the world. She also posts environmental news videos of amazing stories, and writes news worthy articles concerning conservation and recycle techniques. Elisa has supported and helped me with our burrowing owl plight. Check out her site, I am sure you will enjoy this...

Thank you,
Dave Harper

Sunday, April 15, 2012

                                             I have been chasing the burrowing owls for many years. Though some of these photographs are rough, I would like to share my memories of the burrowing owls.  I have always thought of these characters as an interesting study. The small owl has tremendous personality it seems. They are so expressive using those glaring eyes and that bobbing of the head similar to an angry prize fighter. They come right at you and will tolerate human visitation better than other animals I have observed. Burrowing owls return to the same general areas each year sometimes a few hundred yards away from the previous season making it interesting to find where they are going to pop up.

                                      Many owl groups prefer to live near cities or businesses. Others are way out in the wilderness.  Some burrowing owl communities have adapted to living near or in made structures. I see plenty owls living on airports, rail road property, parks, graded out construction lots, and flood control basins. Unfortunately trusting as they are, they are also loyal. In my many years of watching I have seen some sad sights. When Oakley developed flood control basins and turned them into soccer fields the owls refused to leave. In one area near Freedom high school they remained for a few years living in the rip rap area and grass after the area was developed then finally disappeared.                 

              One large disadvantage is they are vulnerable to soil disruption like tilling the ground and mowing. In springtime everybody wants to till for fire prevention. Fields, vacant lots, access roads, private property, fire breaks. This is the one blow the little owls can’t handle. The nesting season correlates with the tilling season.

                         It is up to us to report unlawful and cruel acts against burrowing owls during nesting season until education wins out and people become aware of the resource we have at hand. By staking out or marking the burrows and going around them with machinery, the trusting owl will be okay.  It is then the burrowing owl will continue to thrive in our communities. They need very little area for burrows and to hunt and the ground squirrel allies are abundant.  
Thank you very much for the interest,

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April 1st 2012.
 Thanks for the nice comments left with the first round of photographs, I really appreciate them. I plan to write later of some adventures and areas in particular for wildlife viewing, though I am certain many of you know of areas I would be interested in. Hopefully we can share some of these together. I am posting  pictures of particular species of the bay area I have gathered through the last few years of photography. If there are any questions please feel free to ask. These are all taken in the bay area.
From Top down: Harbor seal taken north of Point Reyes national seashore.
Blacktail buck taken in the Highland-Camino Tassajara area.
Adult burrowing owl taken in Oakley drain basin area.
Osprey with trout taken south of Antioch CA.
Anna hummingbird in east Contra Costa county.
Great Horned owl babies taken in Berkeley CA.
Coyote taken near Los Vaqueros reservoir.
Gray fox taken in the Livermore hills south of Del Valle reservoir.
Swainson hawk near Byron CA.

Posting one of my favorite links: Below is the link for Thom Reinstein horse ranch in the foothills on Highland Rd. in south Contra Costa County. Reinstein ranch offers horse riding classes, stables and large acreage to which to ride. The Highland area is one of my favorite remote areas in the county. Open prairie, scattered oak covered hills in an area that still resembles the late 1800's except for the occasional new cars comming thru the one lane country roads. This is right in the heart of golden eagle country. For horse enthusiasts I would recommend checking out this historic ranch.