Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lizards 'n Lyme (Hiking Edgewood)

(Click on the illustration below to get up close and personal with this Californian's favorite lizard)

As an Edgewood docent I ask others, "Why do you think it's important to preserve nature, beyond beauty, mystery and all that other sensory, emotional stuff?". Of course the answers vary. I've been tempted to go off on my own ideas about increasing over bee-hive health with a diverse plant offering, versus the monoculture imposed by modern agricultural methods, but that's another blog posting all together.

Turns out that the Western Fence Lizards that have been scampering around under my feet like crazy lately (I think it might just be high-hormone mating season for Sceloporus occidentals) is Ma Nature's way of curing Lyme disease. Am I the last to learn this?

Apparently in California, where these lizards abound, the deer ticks that transmit Lyme disease bacteria loose their Lyme-oomph when they bite the lizards. This article from the CA Academy of Sciences explains it all. I've been told, but cannot find a reference on the web, that the result is, that only about 1-2% of deer tick bites where Western Fence Lizards roam produce Lyme disease in humans, versus the over 80% in other parts of the country. Don't quote me on that, however, since I can't find a source for you.

Wikipedia also has an article about this Lyme-disease link.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

California Once Upon a Time: Purple Needlegrass

Planning a little time travel jaunt, back to the days when bunch grasses like this grew all over California......

 Click on the illustration below for maximum viewing pleasure
Once upon a time the California bunch grasses, like this purple needle grass, flourished along with masses of spring wildflowers. With the invasion of Europeans and European grasses in the mid-eighteenth century most of our grasses and wildflower meadows began to look like some other continent.

This purple needle grass continues to grow in Edgewood Preserve, because it grows on serpentine soil (1% of California has serpentine soil, 10% of the entire planet) and also because of determined Weed Warriors who work in the park to eliminate invasive plants and improve the habitat for native wildflowers and grasses.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Carrizo Plain: Soda Lake Jack Rabbit

People go to the Carrizo Plain National Monument for the wildflower bloom. It's one of two places left in the Central Valley of California that is considered to be close to it's pristine pre-agriculture condition.

It's been a dry winter here in California, so there weren't an abundance of wildflowers. Still, we thoroughly enjoyed our short trip to this out-of-the-way, isolated preserve.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

California Dreamin' Poppies and Red Maids at Edgewood Park

My top priority is hiking Edgewood Park as often as possible. 
My second priority is homework. 
Today it was CA poppies and Red Maids putting on a show.