FIELD OBSERVATION REPORT
By Mary Wilson
October 15, 2017

Poppy Reserve

Turkey mullein still has some plants that are green. The long stem buckwheat still has a few white colored flowers but they are now a darker pink to purple color. When driving you will see large fields of these purple flowers. The ragweed has produced the male flowers and are starting to produce green female flowers. There are still some sandasters with blooms. The vinegar weed still has some flowers but are also starting to produce seeds. The tumbleweed are starting to produce the white and pink flowers. The rubber rabbitbrush is produc-ing flower buds and some are starting to bloom.

Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland State Park

California buckwheat flowers have turned brown, there are still some autumn vinegar weed in bloom as are the sandasters. Male Juniper cones are turning brown. Female trees have not produced receptors as yet.

 

NEWS FROM THE PAST

The following article was applied to mat board. It was written by Milt Stark. Unfortunately there is no name or date of the newspaper but was probably either the Ledger Gazette or the Antelope Valley Press. Milt had his own style of writing and I wonder if there are still flowers in the areas he found the ones for the articles. Hope you enjoy the article as much as I did.


STRIPED SKUNK

Mephitis mephitis

The photos of the striped skunk were caught on motion cameras in the area of the burrowing owls. These skunks have black fur and white stripes, even from birth. They are around the size of house cats and are approximately 20-30-inches long (including the tail) and weigh 6 to 10 pounds. Although they have excellent senses of smell and hear-ing, they have poor vision, being unable to see objects more than about 10-feet away.


Skunks live in forest edges, woodlands, grasslands and deserts. They will make their homes in abandoned burrows, but will also live in abandoned buildings, under large rocks and hollow logs. They have strong forefeet and long nails, which make them excellent diggers. Skunks are nocturnal and are solitary animals when not breeding. They are not a true hibernator in the winter, but do den up for extended periods of time. The females will huddle together but the males will often den alone.


They are omnivorous, eating both plant and animal material and will change their diets as the seasons change. They will eat insects and larvae, earthworms, grubs, rodents, lizards, frogs, snakes, birds, moles and eggs. They will also eat berries, roots, leaves, grasses, fungi and nuts. They are one of the primary predators of the honey bee, relying on their thick fur to protect them from stings. The skunk will scratch at the front of the beehive and will eat the guard bees that come out to investigate.


Skunks mate in early spring (April to early June) and males will mate with more than one female. The ges-tation is around 66 days and the female will excavate a den and have four to seven kits. When born the kits are blind, deaf, and covered in a soft layer of fur. They open their eyes in about three weeks, are weaned in about two months and will stay with their mother until they are ready to mate at about one year. The males play no part in raising the young. They have short lives and live only 2 to 4-years in the wild.


Skunks are notorious for their anal scent glands, which they use as a defensive weapon. These glands pro-duce the skunk spray and is a mixture of sulfur-containing chemicals which have an offensive and nauseating odor. This spray is powerful enough to ward of bears and other potential attackers and they can spray with a high degree of accuracy as far as 10-feet. Skunks will usually only attack when cornered or defending their young and spraying is not the first method of defense. A skunk will growl, spit, fluff its fur, shake its tail and stamp the ground to get the intruder to leave. If the intruder does not leave then the skunk will lift its tail and spray. They are reluctant to use this spray and they carry just enough of the chemical for five to six uses because it can take up to 10-days to produce another supply.


Most predators like wolves, foxes and badgers seldom at-tack skunks out of fear of being sprayed. The spray can cause irri-tation and even temporary blindness, and is powerful enough to be detected by a human nose up to a mile down wind. The exceptions are dogs and other predators who try to attack and get sprayed. The greatest predator is the great horned owl.


The skunk is currently not considered endangered. They have been kept as a pet with the scent glands removed, however, it is illegal in most US states.

Then seven appeared.


Meet the 2017 family of fledglings at one of the Poppy Reserve habitats.