PUBLIC ACCESS EVENTS in 2018
By Conservancy Public Access/Education Manager Chris Fabbro
The Conservancy has led several types of Ranch tours this summer, including hikes, cross-ranch safaris, and sunset tours. Our goal is to build capacity so we can offer something to the public on a monthly basis while maintaining an ongoing calendar of special activities for Conservancy Members. The response from members this summer has been great, with every advance-notice offering sold out within a matter of hours after posting. If you want a really great Tejon experience, please join as a Conservancy member for priority registration, and you’ll also be supporting conservation on Tejon Ranch.
In 2018, the goal for public access is at least one driving tour, one hike, and one educational event per month. Want to see more on the calendar? Birding events? Geology tours? Herps? Rare plants? Come volunteer with the Conservancy and we can train you in one of several capacities: docent, logistics/support, citizen science, or project/special event assistant. Do you have ideas for activities? Do you see a need somewhere out there? We have been hearing from members with suggestions—please keep them coming and feel free to help guide your idea into its own public or member event.
We have several activities planned for this autumn and winter, including fall color tours, a camp cooking workshop, a camera trap educational weekend, and of course hikes into the far reaches of the ranch—weather permitting.
Keep an eye on your inbox for member events and on our Facebook page for public activities later this year. Memberships start at $50 and provide you with an “early bird” registration for almost every public access offering. Join the Conservancy and get behind the gates, at the historic Tejon Ranch.
Leporids and Lepus
Text and Photos by Chris Gardner, California Naturalist and Conservancy Docent
Both rabbits and hares inhabit portions of the Tejon Ranch. The desert cottontail, Sylvilagus audubonii, also known as the Audubon’s cottontail, is a member of the family Leporidae The black-tailed jackrabbit, Lepus californicus, is not a rabbit, but a hare. Rabbits are altricial, i.e., their young are born blind and hairless. In contrast, hares are generally born with hair and are able to see (precocial). Young hares are therefore able to fend for themselves very quickly after birth.
Desert cottontails give birth in burrows vacated by other mammals. They usually forage in the early mornings and early evenings. They are particularly associated with dry, near-desert grasslands and pinyon-juniper deserts. This cottontail mainly eats forbs (flowering herbs) and grass. It also feeds on leaves as well as the juicy parts of the prickly pear. Like most lagomorphs, it is coprophagic, re-ingesting and chewing its own feces to extract the nutrients as effectively as possible. Desert cottontails are preyed upon by everything from snakes to coyotes, to owls and golden eagles.
This hare inhabits deserts, scrublands and other open spaces. It is capable of reaching 40 miles an hour, and its powerful hind legs can propel it on leaps of more than 10 feet. It uses the leaps and zigzag running-style to evade its many predators.
Jackrabbits obtained their name from the early settlers of the Southwest who, noting the extraordinarily long ears, named it “jackass rabbit.” The writer Mark Twain brought this name to fame by using it in his book of western adventure, “Roughing It.” The name was later shortened to jackrabbit. The large ears, with their network of blood vessels, serve to radiate heat to the cooler air when the animal is resting in the shade.
The California Naturalist Series
By Paula Harvey, California Naturalist and Conservancy Docent, and Natalia Rangel, Conservancy Intern
Odonata – “The Toothed Ones”
Dragonflies and damselflies, of the order Odonata, are some of the most efficient predators in the insect world. In California, the estimated number of species of dragonflies (Anisoptera) and damselflies (Zygoptera) ranges from around 99 to 106 species. Many species are migratory.
Odonata can be classified as either perchers or fliers. If they rest horizontally, they’re perchers. Those that hang from a perch are fliers.
Odonates spend most of their lives in water as larvae. Depending on climate, they may live underwater from five months to seven years. They are ambush predators, preying on invertebrates, tadpoles and small fish. They will molt up to 17 times before reaching their final instar to emerge in their adult form.
These perchers can be found from ground level to treetops, but are also seen flying over open areas. They sometimes feed in swarms. Their flight consists of hovering with occasional sudden directional changes. Mating occurs while flying over open water, then the female taps her abdomen on the surface to lay her eggs.
These dragonflies prefer to perch on the ground and on surface vegetation that borders water. Females oviposit (lay eggs) in flight by rapidly tapping the water with the tip of the abdomen a few times, then repeating at other spots in shallow water near shore, preferring mats of algae. The male guards her while she lays her eggs.
These perchers make frequent but short flights to hunt and defend territory. Mating occurs briefly in flight (as few as 10 seconds), after which the females oviposit by using the tip of the abdomen to flip drops of water that carry her eggs near the water line. A female will do this throughout the day while a male briefly guards her.
Primarily “perch-and-sally” feeders, roseate skimmers perch on exposed branches at the tops of bushes and trees. At ponds they perch on low branches, making brief patrols (thus, sallying forth), looking for females and aggressively defending their territory. Copulation is brief, 10 seconds, and in flight. The females then oviposit while hovering. They slap water mixed with eggs onto the shore while the male hovers nearby.
They commonly perch on or near the ground and fly close to the ground, flying smoothly. Males and females look quite different. Males stay in open, sunny spots and defend their territories with an abdomen lifting display. Copulation is very brief, only about three seconds, after which the female immediately lays her eggs. She will flick water drops containing 25 to 50 eggs in each drop. She can lay up to 1,000 eggs.
These fliers patrol over breeding ponds with constant, swift, low flight. They defend a large territory of up to 100 feet. Tending to forage away from water, they can be found high in trees or perched on tall weeds in the open country. Highly migratory.
Breeding males congregate over water and shoreline vegetation, and are extremely abundant. Copulation lasts about 20 minutes. Oviposition is in tandem. Females and immature males forage in fields, meadows and gardens, often far from water.