Posts Tagged ‘Ticks’

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.

Spring creek, small animals

July 7, 2013

Saturday, 6 July, 2013

Jacky and Allison and I went to the Spring creek prairie Audubon center, where we found a number of interesting things. I posted some of the photos separately; here’s the remainder of the noteworthy ones.

The prairie is near Crete, Nebraska, windy hills with tall grass, a couple of ponds, and trees in the low places near the ponds. There are a few miles of trails that have been mown through the grass, more trails that have not been mown, and a lot of real estate that is not intersected by trails at all. Electric fences to control the theoretical cattle.

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No sooner had we started off when a helicopter came along, a large camera capturing everything in sight. In the next day’s newspaper, we learned that it’s U.K. Skyworks, doing a Nebraska documentary, partly for their own entertainment, but also on behalf of the University of Nebraska, the parks people and who knows whom!

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Very pretty, the little butterflies.

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Also a little gross!

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There are prairie birds around, perching wherever opportunity presents. Because of the wind and the extreme zoom required, I shot hundreds of photos in burst mode, then discarded about 95% of them.

Doris says these are dickcissels. I never heard of them before. Sounds vaguely obscene, doesn’t it!

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And this is a gray catbird. Thanks, Doris.

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I have been watching for brochymenas, my favorite little six-legged carnivores, and Allison was good enough to spot a plant that sponsored about a dozen of them.

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Really cool! I love their armored structure.

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Here (above) is the armored underside of a brochymena.

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And of course, the insex are busy doing what comes naturally. We’re shocked, shocked!

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Not all is beer and skittles, however. I accumulated four ticks. Pretty little guys, but I was happy to give them the brush-off.

I flushed a grouse from the tall grass. It ran ahead of me for some distance, then took to the air. It veered to the left and flew head-on into a nearby quonset building. Quick 180, and off it went in the other direction. Takes real talent to slam into one of the very few buildings anywhere around.

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And finally, looking again at the tiny guys, we find an aphid colony. Some of everything.

Small animals, at home and abroad

May 18, 2013

Saturday, 18 May 2013

The several mommy long-legs in the garage have produced half a dozen litters. Nice to watch them.

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Saturday, I thought I would leave the car at Palo Alto Foothills park and hike to Skyline from there. But the gate was closed when I got there, and parking on the road is verboten. So I drove up Page Mill to Montebello, where the gate was also closed, but it’s legal to park roadside. Just 7 when I started out, on a chilly, sunny day.

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From this view, you would never know there’s a drought!

Because this is not to be a long loop, I can do some of the infill trails today, trails that I rarely see. We start with a brief detour to the pond near Alpine road. The trail map just calls it Pond, no name.

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I have never been here before; I bet nine people out of eight don’t even know it’s here. I walked most of the way around, until the un-trail disappeared completely, then bushwhacked back up the hill to the real trail.

Several of the other less commonly used trails were also knee high with vegetation, and I stopped at the Russian ridge gate to check for ticks.

Three in my socks. Here’s one that I picked out and deposited on the fence post for photos.

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Interesting that this little parasite has its own little parasite, high on the left shoulder. I cannot feel very sympathetic.

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I also found a tick on my knee, heading north at full speed. Here we have a female eager to get into my pants. Sounds good, but not this kind of female.

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I have always wondered how they manage to crawl around on your skin without you feeling it. And in these close-up shots, I see droplets exuding from the feet — I bet they secrete an anaesthetic onto the host’s skin! How about that for unexpected!

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Here (below) is another tick from later. This seems quite different from the one above, which is in turn quite different from the one on the fence post. All told, I encountered six today, three in my socks, two on my legs, one in my hand. Of course, it’s the ones I didn’t see that are the real concern.

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I’m glad the bay area is not plagued with serious tick-borne disease!

There was a nice collection of other interesting wildlife, as I wandered Russian ridge, including a walk out to the end of the Mindego hill road, to see whether they have opened a trail to the top of the hill (they haven’t) .

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I spotted a spider stalking a little leafhopper kind of thing. Life and death drama here, so of course I watched.

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When the spider pounced, I could actually hear a little plop as it landed. No more leafhopper!

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Grin!

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Ever been grinned at by a spider?

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This bee really gets into his work!

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At Alpine pond, scum on the water, but clearly not random. I am reminded of Golgi bodies in histology, but have no idea what this would be. Interesting. The nature center was open; they had scooped some water from the pond, and captured a dragonfly nymph. The volunteer said the nymphs take two years before maturing into dragonflies. Who would have thought!

In the spirit of picking up some of the side trails that I don’t see very often, I hiked down the old Page Mill road trail until it ended. My new shoes are hurting my feet — that’s not good. Applied some moleskin and gritted my teeth.

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My bod is so attractive, it’s just irresistible!

Near Horseshoe lake, I saw coloured ribbons marking the trail, and there was a sign about an ultramarathon here tomorrow.  Probably as well I came here today.

Hot, tired and sore by the time I got back to the car, but it was a pretty good day.