Wednesday, June 9, 2010

habitat ~ 06/09/10 ~ Mt. Madonna County Park

Mount Madonna County Park
June 9, 2010

This was a lovely local place to camp less than an hour away from home. Our very friendly ranger told us it can get out of hand with drunken weekend revelers from the S.F. Bay area. We had the entire camp area to ourselves in the middle of the week, which was perfect for some private outdoor activities. The trails are in great condition and meander through cool redwood groves to hot manzanita and madrone areas.

Interestingly enough, there's an extensive archery course throughout - by this, I mean a true hiking and shooting course - not a static range - with targets of paper boar and bear nestled among the trees and complete with bow rests and benches. It reminded me a little of disc golf courses in our area. The poor, lone ranger said he hasn't brought his young son over since it'd be a hard time to find stray arrows. Apparently, the bowman's association designed the course so that any stray arrows don't land near the trails. Um, okay, I'll try to trust this information.

ps 01/06/10 - Having reviewed my pictures from our recent excursion to Mt. Madonna, I should mention the last picture above is looking east towards Gilroy.

in honor of the crappy photo blog


I have been trying for over a year to get a decent picture of columbine to post to Nature ID. No can do. Maybe the funny angles of this flower keep the camera from auto-focusing properly. Or maybe its tall stalks wave too much in the slightest breeze?

One of the earliest nature blogs I found was the Crappy Photo Blog. I loved it for its honesty. Don't we all have crappy photos? It's too bad they haven't posted anything in months.
redwood sorrel
Oxalis oregana

As the name suggests, I often see massive carpets of shamrock-shaped redwood sorrel under redwoods. The pic above shows leaf litter from coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflorus) which is a beech, not a true oak. Most of the redwood sorrel flowers I've seen in the area are white like shown here, not deep pink like is commonly pictured online.

Pacific gopher snake ~ 06/09/10 ~ Mt. Madonna

Pacific gopher snake
Pituophis catenifer catenifer

Thanks to Cindy at Dipper Ranch, I feel very confident in identifying gopher snakes now. I look for the dark line that drops straight down below the eye. Gopher snakes sure can get big! This one was easily over 4 ft. long.

purple foxglove
Digitalis pupurea
Plantaginaceae (formerly Scrophulariaceae)

While this is an introduced species, I still love seeing it out in the woods... often where nothing else is blooming. It's native to Europe.

spotted tussock moth ~ 06/09/10 ~ Mt. Madonna

spotted tussock moth
Lophocampa maculata

This caterpillar somehow landed on my arm while hiking. It was only about 1/2 inch long and, boy, did it have a lot of personality. I'm guessing it recently hatched and was still in the first or second instar.

ps 06/18/12 - I forgot to include this in my blog carnivals list exactly 2 years ago. I'm happy to report this blog post has been included in The Moth and Me #12 blog carnival, hosted at The Skeptical Moth new site.

white fallow deer
Dama dama

Seeing these white deer while camping was a bit of a surprise. I really like the woody pattern on the fuzzy antlers. The females look like large goats to me.

In the 1930's William Randolph Hearst, of the Hearst Castle fame, gave a pair of fallow deer to the Henry Miller Estate, probably for hunting or novelty; these are those descendants. Henry Miller, an extraordinarily successful (and perhaps not very charitable) cattle rancher and an influential figure in California's land use history, built an elaborate summer home complex on Mt. Madonna. This land is now a part of the Santa Clara County Parks.