(OK I give up trying to make photos appear side by side! This is too frustrating!)
I spent most of today on the steep chaparral hillside pulling petty spurge, Euphorbia peplus, an annual weed that has totally exploded on parts of the hillside where we cleared. Here are some before and after pictures:
I was going to try snipping it as the roots were dislodging so much soil, but then I found a way to hold the ground around the plant as I pulled it, and that worked.
I noticed lots of very fine bee plant, Californica scrophularia, as I worked, covered with caterpillars of the Chalcedon Checkerspot butterfly, Euphydryas chalcedona.
Don't you just love those big juicy green leaves? In California we don't see so many of those, not like the Florida gardeners do, for example.
It's really quite a handsome plant, though the flowers are very small.
I also found quite a lot of poison oak sprouting, and I sprayed it with roundup. As I was working on the hillside, I don't think any critters got rounded up. I hope not anyway. I had a wheelbarrow full of spurge when I was done.
Most satisfactory! So after dumping it in the compost pile, I thought I'd see how Rat was doing. He was trying to bust open the concrete where the pipe runs under the pool patio. He sawed a box shape with a masonry blade and was giving it some good whacks with a sledge hammer.
Rat Wielding Sledgehammer... on YouTube
They have skin secretions that can kill you if you eat enough of them. He looked too cute to eat though. You can tell the difference between this one and the Rough-skinned Newt, Taricha granulosa, by the way the eyes stick out on either side of the head. Rough-skinned Newts' eyes don't do that.
Oh, he is a newt! A Coast Range Newt, Taricha torosa torosa to be precise, and he didn't seem too bothered by his situation.
He went off happily into the damp miner's lettuce.
A good day in the garden.