Panoche Valley

I went to Panoche Valley (in San Joaquin Valley, California) last night to look for kangaroo rats. I expected them to be rare because of the current drought, but it was just the opposite: in two hours I saw dozens of giant k-rats, a few Heermann’s k-rats, and one possible Fresno k-rat. Most of them were along the gravel road signposted “Panoche Hills BLM lands” that branches to the south off Little Panoche Rd. near Mercey Hot Springs. Kit Fox numbers apparently haven’t responded yet, because I saw only one, near Little Panoche Rd. junction with Panoche Rd. Interestingly, local birders who went there on a full moon night a few weeks ago saw no mammals at all.

If you go there in the next few days, look also for long-eared owls roosting in one of pine trees near the office of Mercey Hot Springs. The numbers are down to 5 from 20+ in February, but they might hang around for another week or two.

Vladimir Dinets

1 Comment

  • vnsankar123

    I was there 2 days ago and did pretty well. I had around 15-20 Giant Kangaroo Rats on the gravel road E of Panoche (see map for the best location: as well as a couple of the much smaller Heermann’s Kangaroo Rats. On Little Panoche Rd in the main valley S of Shotgun Pass, I had 1 Heermann’s K-rat and 1 of the small, gray San Joaquin K-rats. In terms of finding the rats, I found road cruising to be rather unsuccessful (I only found 3 this way). The best method seemed to be walking along the road and scanning fields on either side with a flashlight; you should pick up the eyeshine of around 5 rats in each field. Besides from the k-rats, stuff was pretty slow… No San Joaquin Kit Foxes, Pocket Mice, Snakes, or anything else. In terms of Nelson’s Antelope Squirrel, the flats just E of the Jackass Pass on the gravel portion of Panoche Rd is apparently a good place to look. I also saw a large American Badger on the drive out standing by the side of Panoche Road west of the Valley.

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