Page 26 - WVG2017
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whiptails mostly like a more open area to hunt in.”
The whiptail uses his long tail for self-defense.
“They got their name because a coyote comes in with its nose close to it and when he gets close enough that whiptail turns his body and whips this super long tail that's got these ridges of scales right across his nose,” noted Vincent. “And while the coyote is yelping, the lizard is gone.”
The horned lizard has also de- veloped an unusual defense against predators.
“They can squirt blood out of their eyes, which is not so appetizing to other animals because it gets in their eyes,” he said.
Spring and summer are peak sea- sons for snakes, so you're not likely to encounter one in the winter.
But beware of the Southern Pacif- ic rattlesnake, which will warn you
of its presence with its rattle but will quickly retreat when threatened.
Gopher snakes and common king snakes are natural enemies of the rattler and are harmless to humans.
Ring-necked snakes and striped racers, while rare, can also be found locally.
What's the most common animal in the wild?
“Birds are among the most nu- merous animals you can see in the backcountry and can be very season- al,” Vincent stated.
Among them is the California quail, the official state bird, which runs from place to place more than it flies.
The yellow-rumped warbler is down here for the winter getting its fill of insects and will fly back north for the summer.
The Ojai Valley and surrounding mountains are also prime habitat for raptors such as hawks, owls, eagles, falcons, turkey vultures and the endangered California condor, the largest and rarest of land birds.
Lake Casitas is home to a nesting
Gopher snakes are harmless to humans and a natural enemy of rattlesnakes.
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pair of bald eagles.
You can identify birds without
actually seeing them, Vincent says, by learning their songs.
He recommends getting a bird call app for your phone.
Learning to spot and identify an- imal tracks gives even more clues as to what's roaming around outdoors.
“If you have an area at home, take a rake to it at night and see what shows up the next day.”
The colorful king snake is another enemy of rattlesnakes.
Continued on page 30
Photo by Perry Van Houten Photo by Perry Van Houten

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