Sunday, April 25, 2010

Horned Lizard at Rancho San Antonio

After very rainy winter and spring, the vegetation is at its peak at Rancho San Antonio, and with that a large count of animal species. I have noticed a Great Blue Heron and Great Egret on the grassy field near the tennis courts (very unusual), a Bobcat, and countless White Tail Rabbits.
Yesterday, walking along the Chamise Trail, I discovered a creature that far exceeded my imagination. Initially I thought that it was a frog hiding in the grass on the edge of the trail. Upon a closer look it turned out to be an unusual lizard. Its full name is Blainville's Horned Lizard, and it is native to California. Santa Cruz Mountains are on the western edge of its range.

The horns extending from the lizard's head are true horns with a bonny core. The spines on the back and sides are made from modified scales.

Here is another unusual view, a Mallard Duck rearing young ones in the pond. For the last several years the pond was a dry hollow, filling with muddy water in the spring. This year it is full of crystal clear water.

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