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.
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.
Another interesting native to show up at Lake Charles is this Garter Snake.
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.
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.
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.
If you build it, they will come.
So a question – do you interfere with nature when you just can’t stand it? Would you have caught the garter snake to spare the tree frog?
I’m so impressed with the commitment you have to restoring this land. There’s a movement in the Texas Hill Country to do the same. It’s incredible how vibrant the land becomes when it’s balance is restored.
No I wouldn’t have interfered with the garter snake — even if I could have. It was just too fast.
With thousands and thousands of tadpoles and froglets, the garter snake fits right in the ecology keeping it in balance. And these little snakes will just as happily eat snails, larvae and insects. So the presence of a few at Lake Charles doesn’t threaten the overall population. By contrast, the carnivorous and rapidly reproducing bullfrogs will wipe out the Tree Frogs in a short time.
Do you worry about the deer getting in to eat things they shouldn’t?
The vineyards and my raised beds are fenced. Everything else is native and deer-proof. Most natives are too woody or bad tasting for the deer. The few that they’ll eat, even if the deer munch them down to nubbins, they seem to bounce back.
My back aches seeing all the work you’ve done. It looks wonderful. Lisa, thank you for your kind words in my defense. They’re much appreciated.