Saturday, August 21, 2010

habitat ~ 08/21/10 ~ Fort Ord - BLM Creekside

August 21, 2010

During this hike, it felt like I physically moved from spring, to summer, to fall at Fort Ord in one day.

The first photo above has a great egret (Ardea alba), which is more closely related to the great blue heron (Ardea herodias) than it is to the snowy egret (Egretta thula). I still get the common names mixed up, since there's also a white form of the great blue heron, called the great white heron. Mainly what I want to show in the first pic is how much water is left in one of the vernal pools this late in the year after the winter and spring rains. It's been so drippy wet foggy here on the coast the past month that I'm not surprised there's still standing water. We've been wondering at what point does the heavy fog officially become precipitation.

The second pic is classic CA summer grassland, dry and yellow almost as far as the eye can see. The heat and dryness are the main reasons why I don't hike out there much this time of year.

The last pic is of CA buckeyes loosing their leaves for the year. This is about as 'fall' as it gets around here. There's still "Spanish moss" on the oaks, a local term that is not the real Spanish moss. Really, what we have is not moss at all, but a lichen called Ramalina menziesii. Interestingly enough, within 10 feet of this picture, there was one lone lupine shoot making a bloom. I'm sorry to not have taken its photo to show.

ps 02/16/11 - For a great post on our local lichen, check out Curbstone Valley Farm. And, recently while we were watching a PBS show on snub-nosed monkeys, I found it interesting that they eat lichen. Their big lips and snowy habitat reminded me of cartoon depictions of the abominable snowman, aka yeti.

common jimson weed
Datura stramonium

I really wanted this to be our native western jimson weed (D. wrightii), but alas this is the non-native. The flowers look similar in photos, although I suspect the western jimson weed flowers can get quite large. D. wrightii appears to have smoother leaf margins, whereas D. stramonium leaves are more toothed. I double-checked Fort Ord's plant list to confirm this ID. The seed pods are impressive. It seems the origins of this plant are unclear.