Sunday morning is generally a relaxing time for me. I grab the paper and head for the backyard to sit under the awning and enjoy the solitude; basking in the warm summer morning sun, with birds busy at the feeders, the bees hoping between flowers and the lizards scurrying for cover. Never in this bucolic setting did I consider that there may be more critters bustling about the yard.
We’ve have raccoons pop up from the sewers and stroll through the neighborhood. The dogs treed an opossum that clung to the top branches for a couple of days before leaving. The bird life doesn’t provide anything exotic, depending on the time of year there are a variety of finches, sparrows, jays, mocking birds, morning doves, crows, falcons, hawks, eagles, swallows, starlings and occasional robin and a rare quail. We hear the roosters in the early morning, the ostrich screech and the hoot from an owl at dusk. During the winter we have been awakened by the honk of geese as they make their daily trip to the river and back. When we used to have our Council meetings at Freedom High and Delta Vista Middle School we would leave meetings with the sound of coyotes howling from either the hills above the bypass or from fields of Emerson’s Dairy. Walking the trail alongside Marsh Creek provides and even wider variety of animal and bird life. The naturalist at Big Break Park can point out where the beaver come ashore to feast on the young trees on the shoreline. Needless to say within the boundaries of Oakley there is still plenty of opportunities to encounter things that fly, slither, swim, crawl and run.
I thought I had experienced all the wildlife that Oakley had to offer until a friend at work sent a picture of what he found walking the fence line in his backyard. The Chameleon, native to Africa and south Asia, is probably not on the list of lizards that are normally found in Eastern Contra Costa. We can only imagine that this one escaped from a cage. So, if you lost your pet it was last spotted on Vinewood climbing into an azalea bush.