Guess I scared everyone away with my rattlesnake post. Heck, I scared myself away as it’s been a week since I’ve been able to post! But let’s just catch everyone up on other non-rattlesnake critter news, shall we? Because, everything we’re commissioning in Sonoma is increasing the critter count tenfold. Just call me The Mayor of Crittertown.

The most exciting project at Two Terrier Vineyards — and there are several underway here — is the renovation of Lake Charles (named after our dearly departed Founding Terrier.) We’re ripping out some ill-advised non-natives, beefing up the filtering system and reinforcing native plantings. At the helm is John the Baptist, First Lieutenant Louis, with a supporting cast of Jesus, Rowan and Guillermo. I’ve already told you about the great Hyacinth Eradication Project. Phase Two is the installation of a more powerful pumping and filtering system. The result has been a clearer, stronger, cleaner stream of water down our little John the Baptist-made waterfall.

Now we've got a proper flowing waterfall.

This newly oxygenated water has been great news for our Tree Frogs. They aren’t quite endangered yet, but they are under serious threat from vanishing habitat and the predation of introduced bullfrogs — who eat the vulnerable little froglets.

John the Baptist says you can recognize the native Tree Frog by the stripes radiating from their eyes down their sides. Some are Kermit the Frog green like this guy, some are brown.

Luckily, our lake is the perfect incubation spot for these wonderful frogs, who are also called Chorus Frogs.

Another interesting native to show up at Lake Charles is this Garter Snake.

Unfortunately, he ate the little Tree Frog seconds after I took this picture.

Well, he’s allowed since he’s a native. On the other hand, John the Baptist has declared all out war on the Bull Frogs.

Here's a Bull Frog egg mass just before John destroyed it. Die, non-natives, die!

Speaking of ill-fated non-natives, it's curtains for the ill-advised Sycamores that were infested with bark beetle.

An interesting design note: John is recreating a dry river bed or Arroyo Seco at the edge of the pond. Besides being aesthetically pleasing, the rocks will filter water pouring down from the hillside during rainy season.

The stones also trap water in a more gentle way for butterflies and bees who can't drink from a rushing stream.

The local Checkerspot butterflies are already showing up.

And the little Tree Frogs love hiding under the stones. Since they only incubate in water and eventually hop out into the forest to live out their adult lives, a nice path of hidey stones on their way to the forest is very beneficial. The “riverbed” also provides easy access to the pond for deer.

The finishing touches aren't even on the "river bed" and herds of deer are already headed down to the pond for a drink.

If you build it, they will come.

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