On our mountain hikes we have come across some animals that I have rarely seen. One was a little black mouse, scurrying along so fast that I only managed to catch a picture of the rear department. His head was tucked under a fallen leaf.
A few days later we came across this pocket gopher at 9000 feet, almost the very top of the mountain. The gopher was just inches away from the parking lot (it was a Saturday and the mountain was very crowded.) We watched as he poked his head out, moved a little stone, then withdrew, only to emerge later in a burst of soil, always coming out of the hole head first. He even ventured a few feet away from the hole, and held still as if posing for my camera.
The name “pocket gopher” refers to the pouches in their cheeks where they hold food
They back into their holes, using their tails to feel their way
We are still waiting for rain. There was a quarter of an inch on the mountain last week, much of it in the form of hail, but nothing in the valley. The day time temperatures often rise above 100 degrees. About an inch of water evaporates from a bird bath in a 24 period this time of the year. Since our bird bath is an inch and a quarter deep, I need to fill it almost every day.
We managed to find some grasses, including Weeping love grass (Eragrostis curvula), a non-native species. It is an elegant looking grass. The flower parts are very small. I was pleased with this picture showing the anthers (in yellow) and the white fern-like stigmas.