Archive for the ‘Kern River’ Category
The combination of warm sun and flowing water means that there are a lot of things to be seen on the river. Flowers, for example . . .
They are mostly the common (and not too spectacular) fiddleneck.
Still, they are pretty close up.
This pair of mallards has been hanging around, probably looking for a good nesting site. They were completely unbothered by the dogs, paddling a few feet out into the river, then paddling right back.
This morning brought out something I hadn’t seen in a while. I looked out and noticed all of the downstream horses rushing over to goggle at something in the river. So I went out to see what it was. I could see something moving out by the big island, and it was coming my way. (Notice the partly submerged palm tree. It’s one of those I thought would never recover after the big fire four years ago. Now we’ll see how it likes having its feet wet.)
Sure enough, it was a gentleman in a kayak — the first in five years. He paddled over, and we chatted for a while. I pointed out that the current was not as strong over here on the north bank, and he paddled off upriver. It looked like fun . . . but not easy.
Last night I went out to look at the moon on the water, and I heard frogs — or at least a frog. Another thing that hasn’t been around for years. Perhaps we’ll here something like the deafening chorus of other years before the summer’s out.
There haven’t been many pictures of horses in this blog lately — just weather pictures. Weather is the big story throughout California. The storms just keep coming. The horses (and people) are mostly standing around looking glum. We all know that we need every drop, and that we’ll be grateful in the spring, but that’s hard to remember when you are wading through the mud.
There is plenty to appreciate, though. The mountains have more snow than they’ve had in years. The air is clear enough to actually see them.
When I hiked down to the river a couple of days ago, the backwater that was filled with water hyacinth, and then dried out, was full of water again. Well, and dead water hyacinth. Anyway, there were five little birds — I think they were grebes — paddling happily around. They hurried away when they spotted me. It looked like they were swimming on a sheet of silver.
We’re supposed to have about a week without rain, and things are beginning to dry out a bit. The tractors are still working pretty much full time, but there is visible progress. Pretty soon I might be able to take a walk without hopping over puddles. There are still plenty for the dogs, who enjoy wallowing in them until they are mud-covered. Then they come in the house and share. I haven’t vacuumed in several days, because, hey, what’s the point?
I’ll start cleaning up tomorrow. There’ll be a few days to get rid of the leftover mud, then it’s supposed to start raining again. I’ll just keep thinking of the drought, and repeating, “I won’t complain. I won’t complain. I won’t complain.”
But I’m afraid I will.
At least, it was running for a while in the last couple of days. Runoff from the massive rain gave us a preview of what we hope will be a good year for the Kern River.
Day before yesterday, it was running fast and high.
It always runs slower in the little backwater near the house, but there was a lot of debris in the flow. Even the dogs were hesitant about taking a dip. (You can see the main channel in the background. It was moving fast, and also carrying a lot of trash and debris.)
The next day, though, the same spot looked quite different.
The invasive water hyacinth had backed up behind brush and trees downed in the big fire a few years ago. This was the first time there had been enough flow for it to be a problem. There was a lot of water hyacinth.
Xena, as our Official Warrior Princess, checked it carefully for alligators.
There is, no doubt, much more backed up at the weirs downstream. It’s a mess.
Meanwhile, though, most of the horses were taking advantage of the brief break in the clouds to nap in the sun. Here are a couple of examples.
There’s more rain coming, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be quite as powerful a storm. I didn’t think, a few weeks ago, that we’d ever be hoping for a break in the rain. We are now, but a brief break would be fine. Just so Mother Nature doesn’t turn off the waterworks for too long . . .
I got out for a ride yesterday — me, Kitty, Peaches, and Xena. It’s really hard for me to get out of the house before nine o’clock or so, and during a heat wave it’s nearly impossible to get a ride in. Yesterday, though, wasn’t bad; so we headed out.
I hadn’t been down to the river for several days, so I was surprised to see that it was up. Not only that, there was water flowing downstream. That hasn’t happened for a long time. Apparently the upstream weirs must have been opened. The willows had their feet in the water. (And here’s the usual shot of Kitty’s ears.)
The dogs, of course, were ecstatic.
Farther up the trail, I found some really pretty spots. The large coarse leaves in the foreground, though, belong to cockleburs.
Watching Peaches push through them on the way back from her twelfth swim . . .
. . . I was really glad they were still green.
Coming home, I passed great-grandaughter Liliana hanging out with her pony.
It’s great to be a kid with a horse!
The number of critters of all kinds has sure been going up since the river’s been . . . wet. I’m growing more little toads than grass, now that I’m watering the lawn again. It’s really hard to avoid stepping on them when I go out to water, as they hop away in all directions.
There’s larger wildlife, too. I love this quite accidental shot I got a few days ago. I was trying for the tree full of egrets out on the island; but just as I took the picture, one of them flew across below the moon.
That’s a lucky shot. Friend Jennifer got a lucky shot, too, when she encountered a bobcat on the trail.
They are beautiful creatures; and you can see how well they are camouflaged in the brush.
The heat wave goes on, and only the most dedicated riders are out this morning. If you don’t get a ride in before ten, you are going to suffer! Personally, I plan to hole up in the house. Our swamp cooler is working very well — so far.
If you look very closely at the center of this picture, you will see a little black dot.
It’s a red-winged blackbird. Now, that’s not a rare bird. It’s pretty, with its shining black body and brilliant scarlet shoulders, but not anything to write about . . . except that there haven’t been any around for several years. Like my friend Marion, I followed its song to the source. It’s hard to get a close-up, with three riotous dogs along — well, two riotous dogs and one who is elderly but game. But even the distant view was worth preserving, just to show hows the river life is returning.
This morning, I looked out and counted fourteen snow-white egrets flying in circles, working slowly downstream. There are little toads everywhere. A whole ecosystem is reviving — at least as long as there’s water in the river. I heard the flow was going to continue until August. I hope so.
Incidentally, there are three dogs in the picture. Can you spot the third one?
I did manage to get in a ride yesterday, and it was thoroughly enjoyable. My boon companion Marion is down with a wrenched knee (I hope you’re better soon, Marion). This was probably the last reasonably cool day for a long, time, so I wanted to get out there. I knew that one of Kitty’s many virtues is that she behaves just as well when she is alone as she does with companions. If you are a trail rider, you know how nice it is to have a horse who will walk home on a loose rein.
First, I passed a neighboring garden, which was looking really good. I liked the sign.
We stuck close to the riverside, as Peaches was along. She took every opportunity to have a dip.
Here’s the obligatory shot through Kitty’s ears.
Help, Mom! The swamp monster has us!
Actually, they were standing in the water, as you can see by the plume of black sediment streaming away. The water is quite green upstream, but not so much by us. Maybe that’s because there’s been water there long enough for it to grow algae; maybe because it’s moving much less than it is downstream.
This was very likely Peaches’ last chance to go along on a ride until fall. She does not take the heat well, even with frequent dips. I’m glad that she had a good time!