Jasper Ridge, Stanford university

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Sunday, 27 April 2014

Stanford University has its own open space area, Jasper Ridge. They conduct all manner of research and experiments here, from geology to weather to botany to … well, you name it. It’s not open to the public, but you can get docent tours. Today’s was organized by our open space preserve volunteer coordinator as a bit of a reward.

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Not visible in the photo is an old compound where Stanford used to keep a colony of gorillas, including Koko. Unfortunately, ground squirrels could get into the compound, the gorillas ate them, and acquired either parasites or diseases, I’m not quite sure. So they had to close it down.

We had two docents, who themselves were very knowledgeable, but the usual suspects in the open space volunteer group were even more so in some areas, so the docents themselves learned a few things.

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There were two tours. I was on the early one; here’s the later group waiting for us to get back to the gate at the end.

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It isn’t a big wildflower season, but having said that, even a minimal season is pretty special. Nothing big or dramatic, but if you take time to look carefully, very impressive.

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Notice the two insects lunching here.

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This one is called elves’ clover because the little markings can be imagined to be a face.

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We didn’t see that much animal life. Birds, of course, a lizard, and butterflies, most of whom didn’t stop for photos.

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This is one of half a dozen wood-rat nests I counted. The rats are packrats, too. The docent said, especially in the day of pull-off tabs from soda cans, you could open one of these and find a nice collection of tabs.

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Serpentine rock comes to the surface here and there. It is far poorer in nutrients, and has a quite different ecology. Here we see a fairly abrupt boundary, the serpentine underlay to the right.

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Pretty classy, if I do say so myself.

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