by Tony Nelson
Opossums (not possums or opossomi) are curious creatures. The only marsupials in North America, they have opposable “thumbs” on their hind feet to help them climb and prehensile tails that help them cling to trees. They eat just about anything, including dead animals, rodents, amphibians, snails and slugs, plants and fruit. They are apparently mostly immune to snake venom — and have partial or total immunity to rabies, which makes them an okay critter to occasionally have in the yard.
We all know that they will ‘play possum’ (or ‘play opossum’) when threatened, but that seems to be a last resort. According to one source, they’ll also run (is there a predator that can’t outrun an opossum?), growl, belch, urinate and defecate. When playing dead, they roll over, stiffen, bare their teeth, foam at the mouth and secrete a foul odor. Utilizing bodily functions so readily to make themselves unappealing leads us to think of them as dirty, smelly things, but it’s a pretty effective adaptation for defense.
According to the National Opossum Society, these animals are typically gentle and placid, and tend to avoid confrontation. That was my understanding as well, which makes a recent encounter — captured on cameras that Sonoma Land Trust and our partner, Pathways for Wildlife, installed recently — all the more interesting.
by Ingrid Spetz
Fall is my favorite time of year. I know it’s still summer now, and I’m trying to remind myself to stay present with the current season, but by mid-August, I’m just tired of the long-dead grass outside my door, the dirt that turns to dust clouds in my driveway and the toxic algae threats that keep us from the river. I find myself looking forward to the cool, crisp air and the hope of rains that come with the change of the seasons.
As Sonoma Land Trust’s outings manager, I have the fun project of getting to dream up ways for our members and the public to enjoy our protected lands. Each season presents so many new opportunities — I’m pretty excited about what we’ve got in store for you all this fall!
by Nicole Na
The amazing stewardship crew here at Sonoma Land Trust works incredibly hard to keep our open spaces and wildlands, well, open and wild. That often entails traversing unpaved roads to our properties, braving mud, mosquitoes, ticks, poison oak, heat and a legion of other unpleasantries to get their jobs done, and, if they’re not too exhausted by these excursions, taking a moment to just stop and take in the land.
As a communications person, my daily life doesn’t often involve these nature-based obstacles. Most of the time, you can find me slouched in front of the computer, wordsmithing and Facebook-statusing and blogging (or bragging?) about our stewardship team’s latest achievements. My work keeps those thoughts at the forefront of my mind, though, and when I do get those precious opportunities to explore the land, I remember all the hard work that keeps these places pristine and wild … and take an extra-long moment to take in that land.
In April, during the height of the wildflower season, I took one such outing with a co-worker to the Jenner Headlands. The photos I took still bring back vivid memories of the crispness of the air, the sighing of the grass riffled by the breeze and the pride felt while walking an incredible property acquired in 2009 after five years of work.
Enjoy the following photos — and stay tuned to our outings page to take a wildflower hike next spring!
Nicole Na is SLT's communications coordinator and Mountains + Molehills blogmaster.
by Kyle Pinjuv
The Estero Americano, a 127-acre preserve located on the southwestern border of Sonoma County, is home to a variety of plant and animal species. The adjacent tidal estuary that acts as the border between Sonoma and Marin County is part of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and is considered one of the most important biological areas along the Northern California Coast. On the land, the Estero Americano has a variety of habitat types, including coastal prairie, perennial grasslands and northern coastal scrub. By protecting the land, we also help protect the estuary — and the life that thrives below the glassy surface of the water.
Sonoma Land Trust is a local nonprofit based in Santa Rosa, CA, that conserves scenic, natural, agricultural and open lands in Sonoma County for the benefit of the community and future generations. This blog focuses on SLT's stewardship team, whose members do hands-on work to directly protect, restore, and safeguard the land for generations to come.