Readers’ wildlife photos

April 23, 2020 • 8:00 am

Today we have part 2 of physicist/origami master Robert Lang‘s series of photos from his California studio (part 1 is here). Robert’s notes and IDs are indented.

Continuing my series of photos shot over the last year from my studio in Altadena, California, on the edge of the Angeles National Forest.

A Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis— see comments below) Southern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria multicarinata). These are all over the place up here, but they’re both fast and skittish, so it’s hard to get a good picture. This one had found its way into a  large copper kettle on the porch, and the smooth sides of the interior prevented its escape. (Once I got the picture, I tipped it over and let him scram.)

And now, the mammals. On the small side, we have what I think is a Brush Rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmani). We also have Audubon’s Cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii) in and near Altadena, but we’re up in the chaparral at about 1900’ elevation, which is more Brush Rabbit territory. Hard to tell by sight: they look pretty much alike.

Where you have rodents and lagomorphs you have predators, and I get regular visits from several. Coyotes (Canis latrans) are very common up in the chaparral, like this one below. They also range far down into suburban Altadena, where they help control the population of feral and outdoor cats (sorry!), to the benefit of suburban bird life.

About 20 minutes after the coyote wandered through, a Bobcat (Lynx rufus) also stopped by.  It paused to sniff the California Sagebrush (Artemisia californica), which does have a lovely fragrance, but I suspect it was sniffing more for “Coyote” (or other critters) than for the aroma of the plant itself.

A less common canine visitor is the Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus). I’ve only seen a few of these in back. They’re delicate little things, very wary.

In the definitely not-wary department, I get tons of California Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus californicus), especially during the Fall dry season, when it’s not uncommon to get multiple visits per day, and in the Spring, when the acorns are falling.

Two young deer in Spring, admiring the origami:

During the fall rut. That’s a dominant buck, sticking close to his doe. A couple of smaller bucks were also hanging around nearby, not getting too close (the buck chased them away), but still sticking close, presumably looking for an opening.

And a close-up of the big guy.

10 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. What wonderful animals in your own backyard.
    I loved the photos. Not a bad place to be quarantined…
    Thank you!

  2. Cool pics! The lizard does not look like an Alligator lizard, though, but rather a juvenile side-blotched lizard (Uta stansburiana)

    1. The lizard is clearly a western fence lizard, Sceloporus occidentals and not an alligator lizard or Uta. Looks like it would be an adult female, but hard to judge size and juveniles look a lot like females. The “fast and skittish” description applies well to this species but hardly at all to an alligator lizard.

  3. Very good! I well remember living in the San Diego area, and seeing many of these species (except for the fox). The neighborhoods tended to be built along the tops of the very hilly terrain, with fairly natural conditions in the “canyons” below. So wildlife would regularly wander in deep into neighborhoods. I would see lots of coyotes in particular, and they weren’t that concerned about proximity to humans.

  4. Beautiful photos of beautiful animals! They looked healthy, too. Except one of the deer, which looked shaggy and either pregnant or belly bloated (?). They must be accustomed to seeing you, too, since they all seemed to pose for your camera. Great shots, lovely colors.

    1. you are right, I though it could be a side-blotched lizard but it’s a fence lizard. definitely not an alligator lizard anyway

  5. Nice wildlife you got there; these coupled with the first batch of photos shows what a great habitat you live in.

    Loved the cacti and origami as well. Do you keep those out all year? Maybe it doesn’t rain much or perhaps you’ve weatherized them with some fancy origami paper varnish.

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