The magnificent 250,000-acre stretch of native grassland in southern California is the remnants of what was once the entirety of the San Joaquin valley. With an abundance of rare wildlife species, it’s considered comparable to the African Serengeti (Nature Conservancy 2016). Being the salvage of our once spectacular grasslands, the Carrizo Plain draws in wildlife watchers from around the globe.
The Carrizo Plain harbors a coalescence of the most rare plants and animals found throughout California. The majestic plain is home and last refuge for the kit fox, antelope squirrel, burrowing owl, giant kangaroo rat, and blunt nosed leopard lizard.
The Carrizo Plain is home to several herds of tule elk that number over 200 in the National Monument. Bulls weigh up to 1,000 pounds and cows weigh up to 450 pounds.
BLUNT NOSED LEOPARD LIZARD
Although darker than their lizard counterparts, blunt nosed lizards display great color and pattern variation on their backs. These colors change depending on the color of the surrounding soil or vegetation (U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, 2015).
Although living in scorching temperatures, these squirrels are often seen roaming about during the day. Their tails are frequently held over their heads, similar to an umbrella, helping to protect them against the sun’s harsh rays (Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2016).
The burrowing owls produce a fearful chuckling call. To express distress or excitement, they bob their heads up and down (Defenders of Wildlife, 2016).
GIANT KANGAROO RAT
By adapting to desert life, this species has survived extinction thus far. However, they are currently endangered because their desert home has been negotiated into oil fields and farmland (Konica Minolta, 2016).
SAN JOAQUIN KIT FOX
Populations have decreases by as much as 33%. Kit Foxes are now limited to the western edge of the San Joaquin Valley in the Los PAdres National Forest (LPFW, 2009).
In the winter months, when Soda lake has sufficient water to sustain the species, the Carrizo plains are home to a variety of birds of prey. These birds include Ferruginous Hawks, red tailed hawks, rough legged hawks, and the prairie falcon (Watchable Wildlife, 2015)
Winter raptors are best seen in the months between October and February.
Water fowl are seen best wet winters grace the southlands of california.
Snakes, lizards, roadrunners, and coyotes can be seen year round grazing the grasslands. (Watchable Wildlife, 2015)