Shane Brown is a lifelong naturalist and the caretaker at Big Oak Canyon, Earthroots 39-acre property in Silverado, California. This blog is a highlight reel of his experiences at Big Oak Canyon.

Join Shane for a 2-hour casual wander observing the flora and fauna of Big Oak Canyon on second and fourth Tuesdays of the month.
*See schedule for dates and times
Second Tuesdays of the month will be focused on plants, and fourth Tuesdays will be focused on birds and animal tracks and sign.

Here at Big Oak Canyon, the month of September has meant the return of chilly nights, the sound of acorns dropping and woodpeckers and jays squawking, the sweet and tantalizing aroma of brickelbush wafting down the canyon at night, the tiptoeing around the hundreds of metamorphosed little frogs, and even the smell of a light rain moistening the earth! Here are some of the highlights from the month.

Big Oak Canyon Highlights

In a matter of days, thousands of caterpillars came and turned the leaves to skeletons on many of the alder trees!
A scorpion was crossing the road…
Brickelbush opens its flowers and sends the sweet aroma down the canyon at night.
Tiny chorus frogs are all over the rocks at the creek!
Honey bees are very busy in the elm trees!
California fuchsia shines bright and glistens in the light rain.
A praying mantis sheds his old skin.

Projects and Discoveries

BSA Troop 850 works on a footbridge by the storage shed for an Eagle Scout project.
Almost done with an acorn granary, woven with willow and other plants from the canyon! This project was inspired by the Ipai-style acorn storage basket in the book Survival Skills of Native California, and will hopefully be in use later this fall.
A bobcat strolls by the kitchen, interested in what I’m cooking.

Trivia Questions

Answers for last month:
What skulls were pictured last month? Striped skunk

What two basic categories of things are needed to build a compost pile? Greens (wet and nitrogen-rich) and browns (dry and carbon-rich)

How does a robber fly digest its prey? They inject their prey with a digestive chemical, then suck out their insides.

What animal species was extirpated from Orange County 111 years ago? Grizzly bear

What does tannic acid, used for tanning animal skins, come from? From many kinds of tree bark and oak galls

This Month’s Questions:

Why did the scorpion cross the road?

What medicine was first derived from willow bark?

What do the roots of alder trees do for the soil?

What is the name of the insect that is commonly found eating the insides of acorns?

Blog post was written by Shane Brown.
Shane is the caretaker of Earthroots’ Big Oak Canyon property. He also teaches the Spanish Immersion in Nature and Ancestral Arts programs. He occasionally helps with other Earthroots classes and leads volunteer days at Big Oak Canyon.

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