Thomomys bottae

Yesterday morning in the Park, some people found a newborn gopher in the middle of a wide, well-traveled trail and didn’t know what to do with it. The blind, hairless little thing was shorter than an adult thumb. It was way too young to try to rehabilitate, so we advised them to return it close to where it was found, just in case the mama came back for it.

I’ve had the same thing happen myself, with a newborn rabbit. In both cases the mystery was how the baby got to the middle of a bare trail. Was it dropped by a bird of prey? Carried there by its mother?

red rock canyon

Bodie is a herding dog, not a hunting dog. So it was very surprising when she sniffed in the grass beside the trail, then suddenly lunged and caught a rodent of some kind. It was bigger than a mouse, but smaller than a gopher, and its tail was shorter than a rat’s but not gopher-like. She ignored my commands to drop it, and crunched for a minute before swallowing it. Ugh! Sorry, little critter!

Canis latrans

#1 question asked at the Visitor Center (usually preceded by “WHOA!”): “Is it real?”

#2 and #3 questions: “How do you get to the M*A*S*H site / Rock Pool?”

Occasionally I don’t know the answer to a question, which sends me off to do research. Right now I’m learning about trapdoor spiders because of a visitor query. More on that to come …

horse anatomy

I was not one of those kids who could draw horses. Ilona Pochwyt in Grade 2, on the other hand, drew them obsessively. It was while watching her effortlessly sketch a ‘colt’ (I had never even heard the word before, they were all horsies to me) that I decided that drawing was a talent, and I definitely didn’t have it. I wonder if my life’s trajectory would have been different if, instead of shutting down the artist within at age 7, I’d asked Ilona to teach me how to draw a horse.

Fast forward several decades and I finally understood that drawing is a skill, not a talent. But I still, until today, had never drawn a horse. My thanks go to John Muir Laws for the equine anatomy lesson, and to Danny Gregory for the prompt. A hurdle has been leapt, a monster vanquished. I see many more sketched horses in my future.

cercopithecus mona

The mona monkey (Cercopithecus mona) is native to the lowland forests of eastern Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria and western Cameroon. Its natural forest habitat has been impacted by widespread clearing, and it suffers from being hunted for food. However, it’s an adaptable species and the population does not seem to be declining significantly. It is generally the commonest monkey near rivers in the region.