REC AO Blog
Previous Hopland BLog posts told about Turkey Vultures using large, hollow oak trees as nest sites, and that we have trail cameras set up on four of them to monitor the "comings and goings" of the parent birds ... and other critters that may be visiting the cavities. Occasionally, a digital camera is quietly held at the cavity entrance and a photo snapped to see what is inside. Experience has shown us that this does not disrupt the adult Turkey Vultures if one happens to be incubating eggs. Here you see two young, about the size of small chickens, totally covered in white down feathers. The adults will return to the nest to feed the young where they regurgitate food down their throats (there's nothing better than a warm meal!). The trail cameras will hopefully capture how often such feeding takes place.
The UC Hopland Research & Extension Center owns the UC's only range sheep flock, and the flock is now the largest remaining range flock in Mendocino County. HREC annually manages a herd of about 650 breeding ewes of the "Targhee" breed, plus replacement ewes and assorted rams to total about 1000 head. Herding dogs (usually Border Collies) and guard dogs (Great Pyrenees, Akbash, and Anatolian Shepherd breeds) have always played a critical role in the management of the flock. Here you see a local youth, who has volunteered at HREC for several years now where he receives valuable "hands-on" training for himself and his herd dog.
A group of farmers from Tongyeong, South Korea, visited the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center today to learn about the scope of research activities under way at the facility.
The visit was arranged by the City of Reedley, situated 4 miles east of Kearney. Reedley and Tongyeong are sister cities.
The visiting farmers produce a diversity of crops in South Korea, including citrus, strawberries, orchids, kiwis, mangos and figs. At Kearney, they toured the post harvest facility, research plots and the greenhouse. This afternoon and tomorrow they will visit local farms and packing houses.
The Korean farmers showed particular interest in UC's Navel and Valencia Export to Korea (NAVEK) program. In 2004, Korea rejected incoming citrus from California when inspectors detected fruit infected with Septoria spot, which is caused by a pest that has not been reported in Korea. UC scientists developed a fruit certification program to ensure that fruit with Septoria spot isn't shipped to Korea.
The Korean farmers' week long trip to the United States will not be all business. They plan to take time to visit the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona and Las Vegas, Nev., according to their guide, Sonny Er.
In 1792, the English explorer George Vancouver, upon his expedition through the Santa Clara Valley, referred to the Valley Oak (Quercus lobata) as "stately lords of the forest". In 1861, William Brewer, the chief botanist for the first California Geological Survey said, "some of these oaks are noble indeed, one with a diameter of over 6 feet". The UC-Hopland Research & Extension Center has many of these stately oaks, a few with 4-6 foot diameter trunks. About twenty years ago a trunk "section-round' was collected from a nearby property (still in storage at HREC) and it has over 400 growth rings on it. This oak species is endemic to California, growing in the hot interior valleys and foothills. The Valley oak's deeply lobed, but blunt, leaves help with the identification. In advancing age, the branches of many trees assume a majestic drooping characteristic. These large, mature trees provide an array of wildlife habitat elements including acorns for food and large cavities for denning and nesting. Unfortunately, California has lost many of these stately oaks over the last 200 years due to land development for housing and agriculture purposes.
Rattlesnake Grass (Briza maxima L.), other wise known as Big quakinggrass, is now a common non-native grass species scattered throughout California grassland habitats. It is mostly found in coastal grasslands and coastal woodlands, but is found inland in many counties including Mendocino. The species is quite common here at the UC-Hopland Research & Extension Center. In some sites it can form dense, nearly pure stands that displace other species, but this is unusual. Typically it is in a mixed community with other grasses and forbs. The common names are derived from 1) the visual similarity to rattlesnake rattles, and 2) the "quaking" sound of the dry seeds head when blown by the wind. The panicles are sometimes collected and dried to display in dry bouquets.