Archive for April, 2015

Rancho weekend

April 19, 2015

Sunday, 19 April 2015

All this pulling weeds puts stress on my arm, which eventually makes it sore. Lateral epicondylitis, says the doctor, more commonly known as tennis elbow. Slow to heal, and not good to continue to stress it. So I begged off the Saturday broom attack volunteer project. But the purple star thistle at Rancho San Antonio may (or may not) still be young enough to be worth going after. And maybe I can do that left-handed. Worth a try.

Six hours later, I had destroyed roughly 42 thousand thistle plants. Or at least it seemed like that. My tank of enthusiasm was empty for the day.

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And the wildlife highlight of the day was finding a tiny mantis in the debris (the white thing, head-down in the center of the picture). I would have just trashed the picture, but I rather liked the wild modernistic abstract art feel of it.

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The other thing I saw was a couple of jackrabbits, one of them returning to the wild after a visit to this pond. Not a whole lot of water around here, and I imagine there is quite a bit of traffic when the people aren’t around.

Oh, and a wild turkey also came out of the woods twenty feet in front of me, as close as I have ever been. It walked unconcernedly across the trail and off into the grasslands to see what was going on there.

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And there are these little puffy balls on the trail here and there.

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Close-up makes them look like tiny cabbages. No idea what they really are. [Follow-up: Tom C tells me they are woolly marbles.]

Sunday, I went back to Rancho, but just for a hike. Usual sort of thing, about 15 miles, 3400 vertical feet.

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A meadow full of owls clover. Nice!

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Why the name? Because the little faces look like, well, something. Maybe owls?

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What I hadn’t noticed before was the little balls above the owls’ heads. At first, I thought those were dewdrops, but clearly they are part of the plant. I think they are the pistils of the flowers.

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And these have to be aphids, but the largest I have ever seen. A good half-centimeter.

Update: Bug Guide says these are katydids, but clearly nymphs. I see no sign of wings, not even budding wings, much less developed wings that would give them the characteristic longer shape I think of as a katydid.

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I consider this photo to be reasonably artistic, but also notice the butterfly’s coiled-up hose and nozzle. (click to zoom)

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Globe lanterns

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Some of the yellow daisy-kind of flowers didn’t have outstanding stamens, but the pollen on these is quite obvious. [Follow-up: Tom C says they are smooth hawksbeard. According to Google, this is considered invasive in some places, and has not previously been reported in Santa Clara county.]

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What could be more innocent than a little yellow bowl? [Follow-up: Tom C says it’s a mariposa lilly.]

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With, of course, guests, dining on the goodies.

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And guests, once removed, dining on the diners.

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I have seen yellow crab spiders in these flowers, also in California poppies, but I don’t recall white.

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What I especially like about this picture, in addition to the spider’s textured body, is the way its eye bugs out.

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More wildflowers. [Tom C says this is the fruit of the lomatium.]

The season is really in full swing here. Lots of variety, enthusiasm everywhere.

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This bush would not necessarily be that impressive in its own right, except that it is the only one anywhere near here. Don’t know what it is, but it certainly stands out amidst its neighbors. [Follow-up: Tom C says it’s a bush mallow.]

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[Follow-up: Tom C says these are Wind Poppies.]

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Spring, indeed, and all of us enjoying it to the max.

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Purisima

April 11, 2015

Saturday, 11 April 2015

The lining of my boots is shredding, so I bought a new pair. I fully expect that my new boots and I will be good friends, but perhaps I shouldn’t assume that by going on a killer hike on day one. The default hike at Purisima is about 10 miles, and there’s a loop option that adds another 5 miles and a thousand feet of climb, if the boots are happy by the time I get to the choice point.

And so it was: 15 miles, 3600 feet of climb. Not a killer hike, but industrial strength.

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A beautiful, clear day, lots of people out enjoying it. I started by working on broom out along North Ridge trail, cleaning up some that I had missed, and using my newly-acquired folding saw to work on some that were too big to get otherwise. But I’m wearing shorts and have only wrist-length gloves, so I’m doing what I can to stay out of the poison oak, and that gives some of the broom a reprieve.

Then on down Whittemore Gulch trail, and back along Purisima creek, with a detour up Grabtown Gulch trail and down Borden Hatch Mill, finally picking up Craig Britton trail back toward the parking area.

A surprising number of downed trees, given that there hasn’t been a storm recently. I carry plastic tape on which I note my initials and the date, just so the next volunteer knows he doesn’t have to report the same fallen tree yet again. One of the fallen trees had already been flagged, with a date of February 10. That’s one to report a second time!

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The one above was on Purisima creek trail. Passable, but you would have to duck-walk under it.

There were so many fallen trees that I ran out of tape. Came upon someone putting up colored tape along the trail. His flags were long streamers, and I stopped to consider whether I could, in good conscience, steal half of one of his streamers. He saw me looking at the tape and came back to talk.

Name of Will, he was marking the route for a run tomorrow. He had jumped to the conclusion that I objected to his tape, so he wanted to assure me that the course would be swept tomorrow, after the run. I believe him.

He went his way and I went mine. I found a poison oak vine wafting itself out into the trail, where a runner (or anyone else not paying attention) could easily brush against it. I was able to pile a chunk of deadfall onto it, to anchor it to the embankment beside the trail. My good deed for the day.

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Everyone was enjoying the day, even the insects!

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As I went on, it occurred to me that the low-overhang fallen tree (above) would be a nuisance for the runners. And it just so happened that I met a ranger as I was hiking up the last steep stretch to the parking lot. He didn’t have a chainsaw in his truck, but he did have a bigger hand saw than mine, and volunteered to go around and remove the tree today. His good deed for the day.

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And in the parking lot, I discovered a pet. Put her on my thumb while I took a picture or two, then gave her the brush-off. I heartily approve of females climbing onto my bod, but not that kind of female, sorry.

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Look closely (click to enlarge), and you’ll see the droplets of topical anaesthetic she exudes from her feet, so she can crawl across my skin without triggering a reaction.

Climate change availability cascade

April 10, 2015

Climate change availability cascade.

Easter, Windy Hill

April 5, 2015

Easter Sunday, 5 April 2015

Russian ridge yesterday, with a volunteer crew, working on Italian thistle and broom. Cool and clear, nice day.

It was supposed to rain later today, so I didn’t want to spend a lot of time driving. Better to hike before the rain starts. Windy Hill is closest, and by doing a figure-8 on the trails, I can make it a non-trivial hike (almost 15 miles, 3300 vertical feet).

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When the wild flowers are out, the wild animals can’t be far behind.

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Yum!

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Not sure what these are. Interesting. [Follow-up: Tom C says they are dwarf owls clover.]

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I have no idea what the English (latin) name for these would be (above), but in Caterpillar (below), they’re called Delicious.

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Collected my first tick of the season. I gave her the brush-off before it occurred to me that I should have photographed her first. Well, there will doubtless be other opportunities.

Never did get real rain to speak of, a cool pleasant day. The weather discouraged the heavy turnout that might otherwise have happened, but those of us out there on the trail had a great time.