Calero, Rancho Canada del Oro


Where do I go today? Well, there was a flyer the other day about the wildflower glories of Rancho Canada del Oro, Golden canyon ranch. Turns out it adjoins Calero open space preserve, in the Santa Cruz mountains near Morgan Hill. It’s far enough that I have never been to either of them, and new trails are always interesting.

The country is largely open oak forest, densely populated with poison oak. The Calero trails are often narrow and overgrown, and it was pretty slow going, watching the vegetation at the same time I was looking for interesting things to photograph. (255 pictures today)

The first adventure was a wild turkey who tried to lure me away from her nesting area. I obediently let myself be lured into following her down the trail, but after fifty feet, turned back to where I had first seen her. Sure enough, within five seconds, she was back, trying once again to get me to chase her. I suppose we could have played this game all day….

Wildflowers, indeed!

Lots of photos, most of which I’ll spare you. The next really interesting thing was spotting the little yellow crab spider. Eight eyes easily visible here!

The butterflies are out:

There were some slightly larger animals, too. An alligator lizard, for example, with a dozen ticks behind its jaw.

And while we’re into reptiles, how about a gopher snake!

I figured the flyer mentioning Canada del Oro would get the crowds out this weekend. And indeed, there were several cars at the Canada trailhead, people who would rather drive the extra few miles than walk in through Calero. But I only saw three or four mountain bikes, half a dozen hikers, one equestrienne all day. I suppose I could complain about the crowded trails, but it would only elicit hoots of derision.

The trails are better at Canada del Oro, and the California poppies are in full bloom. Wildflowers, indeed!

Lots of small animals like to munch on California poppies, but when something large like a David shows over the horizon, most of the small animals, well trained by Darwin, scurry out of the bowl and down onto the backside of the flower. With care and caution, however, …

More butterflies. There were even swallowtails, but too flighty to be photographed.

A few damselflies or darners.

The grasses already have heavy seed on them; in a month, this will be golden and dry, but today was the right time of year, really special.

15.6 miles, 2700 vertical feet. Great day!

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