01 de agosto de 2020

Calaveras Big Trees - South Grove

Setting and Route:
07:12 to 10:18 AM
Calaveras Big Trees - South Grove
Temp 62F to 74F. Slight wind. Estimated 3-7 mph, depending on location and time.

A gem of a hike for an early weekday morning. Didn't see a soul, except trees, flowers, birds, squirrels and chipmunks. In contrast, I ended a hike here on Saturday at 1PM and passed 97 people in the last mile and a half. Go early!
The hike starts at Beaver Creek. The actual Sequoia Grove (South Grove) starts about a mile into the hike, where you pass a lumber road. There's a nice view of Big Trees Creek and a sign that says,
"This forest has preceeded you by many thousand years;
Please treat it with honor and respect."
Once in the grove, there are Giant Sequoias, standing alone and in pairs, towering above you, bigger at the base than a typical living room. Their red bark stands out. There are over 1,000 Sequoias in the grove, but just a few along the trail. Along the way, there is a lot to see and the sound of Big Trees Creek helps to keep you feeling cool.

Publicado em 01 de agosto de 2020, 11:20 TARDE por kendalloei kendalloei | 10 observações | 0 comentários | Deixar um comentário

Calaveras Big Trees South Grove Rim Loop

Setting and Route:
07:00 to 13:00
Calaveras Big Trees South Grove Rim Loop
Temp 62F to 86F. Slight wind. Estimated 5-10 mph, depending on location and time.
Started on South Grove Trail, and turned right on the lumber road to hike a loop around the rim of the valley.

This was a beautiful hike! I was hoping to be able to look down on the South Grove and see the Sequoia grove from above. However, true to the park's name, there were too many Big Trees to be able to see the valley below it. The rim trail is a wide lumber road that is well maintained on the southern half of the loop and less so on on the northern half of the loop, but is easy to follow throughout the hike. The incline is pretty gentle all the way up, gaining about 1700 feet over 7 miles, making it a moderate hike, though lengthy at 11 miles. The hike begins and ends in coniferous forest, with lots of White Fir, Ponderosa Pine, California Incense Cedar, and Pacific Dogwood. No Sequoias to be seen, though. At higher elevations, it takes you through patches of chaparral, dominated by White Manzanita and Black Oak. There are flowers throughout in Spring and early Summer, including Western Columbine, Naked Buckwheat, Mountain Blue Penstemon and Common Woolly Sunflower. Birds generally try to stay concealed and include Dark-eyed Juncos, Hairy Woodpeckers, Ravens and Turkey Vultures. Mammals include Douglas' Squirrel, Long-eared Chipmunks and Black Bear. I saw my first bear, while on a solo hike. It was a young one, a little bigger than a full-grown black lab on steroids. No picture, as it ran before I could raise my camera. No sign of parents, luckily.
There's a wonderful sign at the intersection between South Grove Trail and the lumber road that says,
"This forest has preceeded you by many thousand years;
Please treat it with honor and respect."
That sign should be put up at the entrance to nearly every forest. :)

Publicado em 01 de agosto de 2020, 10:15 TARDE por kendalloei kendalloei | 19 observações | 0 comentários | Deixar um comentário

16 de junho de 2020

Buckeye Blitz

I have been photographing a California Buckeye through all of its phases and started noticing how much life depends on this one tree. So, I decided to do a Buckeye Blitz. Rather then doing it all at once, it will be a documentation of all the organisms that I find associating themselves with my tree friend over the next year or more. I'll be back to add observations as I make them.

Publicado em 16 de junho de 2020, 10:53 TARDE por kendalloei kendalloei | 6 observações | 1 comentário | Deixar um comentário

02 de outubro de 2017

2017-09-30 Angel Kerley Trail and Burma Rd to Moses Rock and back

Setting and Route:
07:30 to 12:30
Mount Diablo - Start Northgate Rd and Angel Kerley Trail, then Burma Rd to Moses Rock.
Temp 57 to 68 degrees. Slight wind. Estimated 0-5 mph, depending on location and time.
Angel Kerley and the first mile and a half of Burma Rd is Oak Woodland, then turns uphill into Chapparal. Heavy Chamise and some areas with Manzanita.

The hike started with a welcome from a Tarantula (Aphonopelma Iodius) just after the trailhead. I call him the greeter. He sat for a good 20 seconds while I got my GoPro started, then backed toward and into his burrow. Sighted 4 Columbian Black-tailed deer before hitting the Chapparal. From the rock that overlooks San Ramon Valley, saw a Red-tailed Hawk sitting on a large boulder. Got nice video of it as it rustled, then took off. Just past the rock, saw three young (not pups, not adult) Coyotes running along the ridge.
The Chapparal area is home to a family of White-tailed Kites. Saw 4 at one point. One was on the bare peak of a tree, repeatedly lifting and lowering her tail. No takers that I saw. :)

Usually pass Moses Rock without inspecting futher, but decided to go off-trail and look around. Moses Spring actually comes partially from the rock and cascades (drips this time of year) down. Lots of plants that I'm not familiar with and aren't typical of the local area. Will have to make a special iNaturalist trip to familiarize myself with them. Also, as I approached, a Red-tailed Hawk was perched on the water cistern. Wonder if they eat goldfish... It would be too easy.
On the way back past my lookout rock, saw 2 Northern Harriers. One had prey in its talons. Got some video, but just after I stopped, an American Kestrel attacked. Over too quick to capture it, so on my way. At the junction of Burma and Angel Kerley, came across a Gopher Snake basking mid-trail. Was not budging or bothering with me. Not far from there, on Angel Kerley, came across another that I mistook for a Rattlesnake because it's head was a triangular. I knew that they would rattle their tail to mimic rattlesnakes, but did not know that they could somehow change the shape of their head to look like a pit viper. It looks like it sort of pulls its head back slightly. This one was not in a friendly mood. Got a nice video of it striking my GoPro.

Fall is upon us. I arrived at my usual time (as soon as the gates open), but the animals are more active than they were during the summer. Possibly a seasonal change in behavior, or may be due to the shortening day. I'm not arriving as late after sunrise. The weather is changing as well. Dew on the grass and on my hiking stick.

The behavior of the Tarantula and the 2 Gopher Snakes made me think about camouflage. Both seemed to use being motionless as the first way to not be seen, and only moved when I didn't go away. Also makes me wonder how many things I just pass by on a typical hike.

In the early morning, raptors were either not visible or perched. Perhaps the air was too still for hovering and/or the ground was too cold for thermals. Later in the morning, Red-tailed hawks were kettling, but still no hovering kites. Most likely, the ground had warmed enough for thermal, but the air was too still for hovering.
Moses Rock and Moses Spring have me interested in how they seem to be an oasis for plant life. Will make a special trip soon.

Publicado em 02 de outubro de 2017, 03:11 MANHÃ por kendalloei kendalloei | 7 observações | 0 comentários | Deixar um comentário