Nature Notebook, June 3, 2021

06/02/2021

The new moon rises on June 10, as the evening skies pass through their ancient patterns after the drama of the lunar eclipse. If you are traveling east, a solar eclipse will be visible in the northeast skies on June 10, but it will not be visible here. The local sky recently displayed an unusual cloud formation likened to a flying saucer shape. This flat, round lenticular cloud takes its name from “lenticula,” the Latin word for lentil, a food of a similar shape. Lenticular clouds are typically formed when moist air passes over a hill and the cloud remains motionless instead of scudding along.

Recently, I have noted numerous small, gray-furred brush rabbits, which often linger along trail edges. Their large ears help them detect predators and they usually hear our footfalls and zip off into the brush.  

Blue elderberry shrubs are now blooming along roads; their pale yellow, almost-white flower forms a cup shape or umbel, whose sprays may be seen at the bottom of Fox Drive. For an informal bee symphony, check out the pink tea tree and purple ceanothus behind the Dance Palace Community Center. The shrubs are literally humming!

Great blue herons have returned to their usual gopher hunting rounds around Bear Valley. The “king of Limantour Road,” a large gopher snake, recently zig-zagged across the road in front of me and, on my return trip, was shedding. The skin was about three feet long when I measured it at home!