Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Adelaide Bald Eagles Flying High

The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County  Conservation Project Manager Cain Silvey spotted this bald eagle while working on a land conservation project in the Adelaide area, W of Lake Nacimiento. Shortly after this eagle flew out of the tree it was joined by two more bald eagles and the three of them circled overhead for a few minutes before flying off toward the lake. 

California's oak woodlands provide homes for more than 300 vertebrate species, including these bald eagles. Seeing these magnificent birds reminds us of the value of The Land Conservancy's work to conserve land for the benefit of wildlife, nature and people.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Who Goes There? The Clues Left Behind for Pismo Preserve Ranger C.J. to Find!

The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County Pismo Preserve Ranger C.J. Silas spends a lot of time hiking the Pismo Preserve to keep 11 mi. of trails safe and enjoyable for visitors + healthy for nature preserve inhabitants. These are some of the things found on recent hikes. Evidence of animals who have passed by or passed away. If you're grossed out by scat, don't look! Thanks for sharing, C.J.!

Most likely the backbone and pelvis of a deer, perhaps what's left of a mountain lion's dinner.
The scats shown above and below are impressive! Both were found in the middle of trail, a way of communicating with other coyotes: I've been here! Coyote diet varies seasonally. When prey animals are plentiful, you'll see a lot of hair in the scat. When in short supply, you might see more fruit pits and remnants of a vegetable diet. Coyotes lean toward the carnivorous side but are omnivores. 

Friday, March 12, 2021

Cycles of Nature ~ The Badger and the Beetles


The Cal Poly Vertebrate Lab* processes wildlife specimens for research and outreach purposes. Most of the specimens we received are roadkill that have been collected and donated to the lab by Cal Poly students or community members. The specimen in the video is a badger,Taxidea taxus, that was collected at the Pismo Preserve by The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County staff Dylan Theobald. It had likely been deceased for at least a few days and had already started to decompose. Following collection, the badger specimen was frozen to prevent further decay.

The first thing we do at the lab is examine the specimen and determine what is the most useful way to process it given the condition of the specimen. As the badger was already starting to decay, we decided to just keep the skull and a paw. Our lab uses a Dermestid beetle colony to clean skulls. Dermestes maculatus is a flesh eating beetle commonly used for skull cleaning. The colonies are fairly easy to care for and can fully clean a skull in just a few weeks.

To prepare the badger head for the colony, we froze it for one week to kill any harmful parasites or diseases, removed the skin as the beetles won’t eat the skin, and removed some of the excess tissue. We also took a tissue sample to conduct DNA testing. The video shows how the beetles find the skull and begin consuming it. By the end of the video, all the flesh has been eaten off of the skull. This video was recorded over 9 days.

When the skull is removed from the dermestid colony, it must be put in a freezer for at least one week to kill any beetles or larvae remaining on the skull. After that, the skull goes through a degreasing process which involves soaking it in soapy water and switching the water every few days for about a week. After that, the process is complete and the skull is ready to be added to our museum collection or used for outreach! This badger will become part of the specimen collection used for The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County's outdoor education program, Learning Among the Oaks. We hope you will find this video interesting and informative and look forward to sharing more videos of our lab procedures in the future!

Click on the video below to see time-lapse video of the process (Caution for the squeamish -Includes graphic images).

Emma Witkin, EMT

Biological Sciences,

Cal Poly Class of 2021

*Directed by John D. Perrine, PhD

Professor / Curator of Mammals and Birds

Biological Sciences Department

California Polytechnic State University

San Luis Obispo, CA


Thursday, February 18, 2021

Friday, December 11, 2020

Ocean View School Oak Ambassador Natalie teaching on Vamonos Trail


What is that mossy stuff hanging from the oaks? Natalie shares the story of lace lichen with her cousin while hiking in Vamonos Canyon at the Pismo Preserve. Did you know that California has a State Lichen? Yep! This mossy stuff isn't moss and it is honored as the State Lichen of California. Pretty interesting that it is not one but two organisms (up to three for lichens in general) living symbiotically

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Nature close to home

 Thanks to volunteer Bill K. for sharing these photos from his Arroyo Grande critter camera.

A fawn asking, "Where's mom?" 

A deer checking out the camera up close

A finch showing off for the camera

Monday, November 2, 2020

Who left that scat?


Pismo Preserve Ranger CJ found this scat on a trail at the Pismo Preserve. Notice that it is not at all hidden. Maybe this animal wanted to make a statement? What else do you notice? Tapered ends, twisted tubular shape, presence of hair and size. Any guesses? Maybe a coyote?