Saturday, June 24, 2006

heading back soon...

We'll be heading back up in a few days. We'll spend most of July in Kernville. Avoiding LV on the 4th is best for Stella -- this place is like the Wild West, everyone and their brothers have noisy fireworks.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Back in Las Vegas -- a common poorwill

When we got to our house in Las Vegas, this guy was sitting on our bedroom porch. He seems to be a Common Poorwill, and he's rarely seen during the day.

Looking across the river

Across and downstream on a pretty high water day. The river level is going down, and probably will continue to do so for the rest of the season. For comparison, though: right now it's around 4800; it peaked in May at 8000 or so. In water year 2004, it never got over 2000; the highest in the last decade was a surge of around 20000 on one big day in 1997.

The pipe on the hill across the river is the flume of the last horizontal run of the aqueduct diverting water for Southern California Edison's KR3 powerplant (which is about a half mile downstream from us.) The aqueduct is pretty amazing; it's about fifteen miles long, bored right through the heart of the granite hills.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Butterflies and hallucinogens

These Painted Ladies and California Blues have a morning ritual of hanging out on the beach. The previous owners were less infatuated with the wild than we are, I guess; they had the gardeners removing the lovely Sacred Datura (aka Jimsonweed).

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Yellow and black

A swallowtail busy at work.

Lizards and cottonwood

An alligator lizard and cottonwood fluff. There are an essentially endless supply of cottonwoods and lizards here; this one is an alligator lizard.


Here's how the barn and corral looked before the boys took sledgehammers and jackhamers to it.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Where the corral was

Here's where we tore down the corral. The posts are still there; you can get an idea what a difference it makes. The barn color (edging on the left) just has got to go, though; we're going to make it fade into the mountains. Camo paint on a barn.

Stella is checking out the changes. She likes it here, though we worry a tad about her hurting herself chasing a critter.

Bees, pellets, ducks, and a virginia creeper

A swarm of bees on a tree; an owl pellet full of rodent bones; three ducks in the river; and a baby Virginia Creeper. Just a few moments walk around the property.
Here's the view from our back window:

Rewilding the place

One of the fun things to do when buying a new property is the first "haircut", and we performed it today. I think the original developer of this area was trying to do some sort of suburban resort theme. We've got a big barn with a caretaker apartment upstairs; the stables were converted to storage a few years ago; today, we took down the corral. It makes a huge difference; instead of white picket fences, we have a straight view to the national forest.

The river is much higher today than it was yesterday, as the snow from Mt. Whitney continues to melt. The flow is around 7000 cfs; two days ago it was more like 4000. A highly variable river this is! Monitor the flow at the Corps of Engineers; the last column is the one of interest.

This place is a nature paradise. Some figures from birder Bob Barnes' site:

Significant Floral and Faunal Facts
  • Highest mammal diversity (115+ species) in North America north of southern Mexico
  • Highest plant diversity (over 2000+ vascular plant species) in California
  • Highest butterfly diversity (135 species) in California

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Greetings from Kernville

Roberta & I just purchased a property on the Kern River, north of Kernville. Though Roberta grew up here, and spent most of her life here, I'm a suburban boy at heart, and this country life is something new for me. It's a magical place here; we've got the river on one side and Sequoia National Forest on two sides. Within two days of buying this place, we've spotted Great Horned Owls, Great Blue Herons, mallards, mountain bluebirds, lots of lizards, a six foot long gopher snake, a zillion bunnies and squirrels, and a passel of rafters. I'm going to try to record our discoveries here.