At the Silver Spur Ranch, 09-24-17

I spent the majority of the day to/from/at Tuleyome’s Silver Spur Ranch property with my coworkers Nate, Bill and Kristie.  We were supposed to be going out there so Zarah Wyly from the Sacramento Tree Foundation could check the place out, in anticipation of doing an acorn gathering event there.  But I also wanted to go to check the place out in anticipation of (hopefully) receiving the grant from the Sacramento Zoo to do field studies on the property… and to take photos.  We don’t have enough photos of the properties Tuleyome owns, mostly because staff has never been allowed to go out to any of them; and the people who DO go out take very few, mostly crappy photographs. (Hah!)

This time of year the place isn’t very “pretty” – lots of dead grass and no water in the “crick”.  But we still found a few interesting things to look at including some mountain lion scat(!) and coyote scat, some cool galls including one called a “Coral Gal” of the wasp  Disholcaspis coralline, and a nest made by Blue Mud Wasps (Chalybion californicum).

We also found a lot of baby Blue Oaks – but they were pretty munched down by the deer and elk.  We’ll need to build cages around them to protect them until they can grow a little bit more.  Baby Blue Oaks are something of a rarity because the trees grow so slowly and when they’re mature may only produce acorns every three years or so; and the acorns are tasty to animals so they get gobbled up a lot.  There has been a severe decline in Blue Oak seedlings in California over the last 50 years… and invasive grass species which take water away from the acorns just as they’re starting to germinate seems to be one of the major culprits.  It might be cool to do a long-term study at the ranch to see how the tree population does there over time.

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.

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Mary K. Hanson is a breast cancer survivor who, at age 61, took coursework to become a Certified California Naturalist. The author of “The Chubby Woman’s Walkabout”™ blog, Ms. Hanson has also written nature-based feature articles published in regional newspapers, authored over ten books, including her "Cool Stuff Along the American" series of guide books, and has had her photographs featured in books, articles, calendars, on the American River Parkway Foundation’s Instagram stream, and even the White House blog. This year Ms. Hanson is helping to launch and teach a new Certified California Naturalist course through Tuleyome, in partnership with the University of California and the Woodland Library, so members of the public can themselves become certified as naturalists in the state. All of the photos seen on her website were taken by Ms. Hanson herself (unless noted otherwise) with moderate- to low-end photographic equipment more easily affordable to the everyday nature enthusiast. She also occasionally leads photo-walks through the American River Bend Park for the public and is sometimes available for public speaking.