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Thank you for your patience and understanding as we recover from the damage from the Thomas Fire on our trails. In the coming months trails will likely open and close depending on rain and changing trail conditions. Click here for current information and trail notifications »


By on December 22, 2020 in News


Have you been out on the trails and seen an unidentifiable flash of pink go by? It was likely a red coachwhip (Coluber flagellum piceus). These beautiful, fast snakes are one of the most cryptic snakes in Ojai. The coachwhip’s color varies by region, but the majority of them in Ojai are reddish-pink. Something unique about this snake is its ability to climb quickly—OVLC field staff have often seen these snakes retreat into laurel sumac or other trees, making them difficult to spot since they look similar to branches. They mate in late spring, lay eggs in summer, and hatchlings emerge late summer to early fall. This snake is not venomous, but just like all wildlife, it does not wish to interact with humans. If you come across one sunbathing, don’t try to move or touch it. Chances are it will race away to another sunny location. 


Achoo! This might be a sound you make when exploring OVLC’s Confluence Preserve, and the western sycamore (Platanus racemosa) may be responsible for your sneezing. This wetland-riparian species relies on wind to carry its abundant pollen to neighboring trees. It supports many wildlife species, including a variety of birds. Growing to be more than 100 feet tall, the larvae of the Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus) survive by eating its leaves. It’s colorful bark is thin and constantly shedding; the older bark is dark while the younger is lighter. One reason for this constant shedding is that it tends to grow at a fast rate, with height increases of more than two feet annually. Next time you’re out on a preserve, look at a sycamore’s height and try to guess how old it is! 

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