15. huhtikuuta 2021

Sierra Azul, Woods trail - 4/14/2021

Woods trail is ramping up right now, lovely as always, with quite a few blooms and still early for most. Around the parking area were small fields of lupines, and that little strip of goldfields and Linanthus as you start on the trail. Along the way were tons of CA buttercups (which seem to be doing fabulously everywhere I've been this year) and Pacific pea, many paintbrush and two-eyed violets and more Common Star Lilies than I've seen there at once. The irises look iffy this year, with some patches having a fair number of flowers, but a majority of patches none at all. Maybe they've yet to bloom, or maybe won't bother this dry year. A very nice patch of vivid Blue Dicks, some monkeyflowers, and a surprising amount of Yerba Santa in bloom, it seems early for them. Of course there were other bloomers too, but those were most notable. The sedums haven't started yet. And of course the smelly chaparral plants are fantastic right now, pungent, potent and not yet bitter - pitcher sage, mugwort and artemesia.

Sadly, I found three squished newts on the trail. It's bad enough finding them on the road, where I can muster a small amount of sympathy for drivers not seeing them. But what's happening on the trail? Is it ranger trucks? I admire them greatly, and they have a lot of responsibilities, but perhaps they could also learn to see newts. Hikers and bikers? Surely they should be paying enough attention to the trail, and are close enough, not to step on them or run them over? Regardless, obviously it's happening even there, where they should be safe. :-(

Lähetetty 15. huhtikuuta 2021 04:51 käyttäjältä newtpatrol newtpatrol | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

Calero San Vicente loop - 4/11/2021

What a lovely day, perfect temperature, gorgeous clouds and excellent company. We did the loop from the San Vicente entrance to Calero, along the reservoir and back down the serpentine. Newly-awoken Oaks were glowing and many birds were seen and heard, including a variety in the reservoir. A satisfying number and variety of flowers too, although still on the early side, I'd like to do the loop again in a couple of weeks.

I walked in the serpentine areas of Lisa Killough trail 2 weeks previous, and was surprised to see that not much had progressed in those two weeks, either in species blooming or number of bloomers, except a few more poppies and the appearance of a few woollythreads. While it has been a very dry and crazy year for (lack of) weather, so many other places I've been have been blooming relatively well and progressing over time, including next door at Rancho Cañada del Oro. There was, however, a lovely large patch of poppies on the smaller loop trail.

And as usual, way too many bikes. We were lucky to have a whole minute of quiet to listen to and record bird sounds. That's the one big downside of walking there.

Lähetetty 15. huhtikuuta 2021 04:38 käyttäjältä newtpatrol newtpatrol | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

10. huhtikuuta 2021

Rancho Cañada del Oro Bald Peaks - 4/9/2021

Ah yes, this is the right time to do a loop that includes Bald Peaks. Last year I was up there on 4/10, and both then and now the peaks were in full bloom. Mainly poppies, goldfields and popcorn flower, some miniature lupine, checkerblooms, and way too much Vicia villosa. As with other places this year, the flowers weren't dense, but there were still a lot of them, very satisfying with a backdrop of bright green leafing Oaks.

This time, I didn't do Mayfair Ranch, just went in on Longwall Canyon, and that was great, since you still get to go past the serpentine spot. The upper part of Longwall Canyon is so lovely, you'd hardly realize you were going uphill for 2 miles. Somewhere along the way was a wonderful patch of Buckbrush (Ceanothus cuneatus) in full bloom, and of course there was a lot else to encounter along the way.

Very few humans, which was lovely, but also far fewer butterflies than expected, given all those flowers. It was on the cool side, and windy up there, maybe that kept them hunkered down, or elsewhere.

Lähetetty 10. huhtikuuta 2021 02:45 käyttäjältä newtpatrol newtpatrol | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

8. huhtikuuta 2021

Pacheco State Park - 3/20 and 4/2/2021

Pacheco got off to a slow start this year. On March 20 (Equinox!) I went for the first time this year. Only a small portion of the wonderful, gnarly Oaks there were leafing out, when I expected them to be further along, and it was on the early side for flowers. It seemed to be a poor year for shooting stars there, not many at all, even in one spot where they often cover a large hillside. Interestingly, several species that are normally taller were pretty notably short this year - blue dicks and fiddlenecks - I'm guessing from lack of rain. But there were a satisfying number of both. Some poppies, but they were closed since it was chilly and very windy. A fairly large field of buttercups around ugly Pig Pond too. How I wish they'd manage those ponds for all of the wildlife other than the damn cows that rule the place. There should be herds of elk there, not cows.

Since it had rained a little the day before, mosses and lichens were still enlivened, forming such a wonderful skin over the oaks and stones. They don't seem to harm the trees, but I wonder if they provide any benefit? Dramatic clouds moved in, looked like it would rain again, but just a very brief sprinkle.

When I returned on 4/2, most of the Oaks were finally waking up, and there were a lot more flowers. The few shooting stars were mostly gone, and blue dicks fading, but there were a lot more poppies, and open this time, as well as large swaths of popcorn flowers and violets. There were patches of a very soft and relatively large lupine that I'm not familiar with, not quite yet blooming. Several other species not quite yet blooming too. It's not a year for dense carpets of flowers, but more scattered, and I have a lot of respect for anyone who blooms at all this year.

Lähetetty 8. huhtikuuta 2021 02:59 käyttäjältä newtpatrol newtpatrol | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

Morgan Territory - 4/7/2021

Thought I'd check out the burned area at Morgan Territory today. Going along the outer eastern trails (Miwok, Manzanita, Valley View...) takes you through quite a bit, and I'm glad they've opened it to the public.

Some areas look like they burned more intensely, like on rocky hills, other areas seem to have had a lighter burn in the understory, where many oaks are burned on the bottom, but leafing out otherwise. Some areas of burned understory are pretty green, with a lot of non-native grasses, miner's lettuce, Plectritis and white Nemophila, as well as some blue dicks and several types of clover, and others in smaller numbers.

One of the very bare, rocky hills was interesting, where there were quite a few death camas (Toxicoscordion) brightening up the scorched earth. Otherwise, I didn't see any notably interesting fire-followers, like I had hoped.

Outside of the burned areas, there was a lot of green, with enough patches of flowers to keep it interesting. Plectritis still was a dominant plant, along with white Nemophila. There were some nice small swaths of Triphysaria, goldfields and Plantago erecta in open grassy areas, and CA buttercups in shadier places. There was significantly less Triphysaria and goldfields than several years ago when I was here very early April. Could just be later this year, or of course the lack of rain.

Oaks were mostly leafing out, with that electric green that I love. Very windy on the side facing Mt Diablo.

I'd like to go back in a couple of weeks.

Lähetetty 8. huhtikuuta 2021 02:39 käyttäjältä newtpatrol newtpatrol | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

24. maaliskuuta 2021

Bird happenings at home - 3/23/2021

I've lived in this place in Campbell CA for around 6 years now, and this is the first year I've seen, really mostly heard, such a large flock of birds hanging out, and they've been here for several weeks now. My guess is that it's a mix of American goldfinches, House finches and Pine siskins, plus possibly others. They are very garrulous for a long time in the mornings especially, filling one or more of the large live Oaks in the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, the Western Screech Owl couple is back in the neighborhood and in our owl box, I saw them mating several times, so maybe this year they'll create offspring (which they don't seem to have last year). Their ritual has been like this:

  • After sunset, Lady Owl looks out of the nest box for around 10 minutes.
  • She then leaves, sometimes hanging out on the perch outside of the box, sometimes going elsewhere not too far away, looks around, fluffs and has a good wing stretch for another 5-10 minutes.
  • Around this time, Mr. Owl can be heard, and the two of them have a chat.
  • Lady and Mr. Owl get together for a spell, often out of sight, occasionally in a different tree in the yard.
  • They fly off individually.

By then it's dark and I generally go inside. I have heard them occasionally in the middle of the night. Hoping for owlets!

Lähetetty 24. maaliskuuta 2021 00:53 käyttäjältä newtpatrol newtpatrol | 1 kommentti | Jätä kommentti

Limekiln-Priest Rock, Sierra Azul - 3/23/2021

All of a sudden today I felt silly and regretful for not keeping nature notes here over the years. No time like now to start! This will be very informal and often quick and dirty, serving as an external brain for all of the notable things I'm sure I'll remember, and want to, but usually go in one neuron and right out the other otherwise.

Today's walk was the loop around Limekiln-Priest Rock at Lexington/Sierra Azul, and again it was both windy and wonderful. There's a lot of Ceanothus cuneatus (buckbrush) that's totally going off right now, the smell was delightfully carried by the wind and accompanied me through much of the walk. Other flowers too, especially notable were quite a few patches of warrior's plume and lomatium, along with the usual early suspects of shooting stars, hound's tongue, milkmaids and a lot of maidenhair ferns. Other chaparral plants are in their tender growing phase, and smell wonderful, not bitter, like pitcher sage and artemisia. Also on the olfactory front, mountain mahogany is blooming, which isn't at all showy but has its own interesting scent here and there.

Lähetetty 24. maaliskuuta 2021 00:43 käyttäjältä newtpatrol newtpatrol | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti