Friday, February 4, 2011

habitat ~ 02/04/11 ~ Hatton Canyon State Property

Hatton Canyon State Park Property
February 4, 2011

There's been quite a bit of local controversy over Hatton Canyon from Caltrans to State Park ownership. Now, I hear there's more controversy over paving a trail through the canyon for bicycle access and concerns about a ban on being able to walk your dog on State Park property's unpaved trails. I have to say we spotted dog poo everywhere, which doesn't do the pro-dog folks any favors. Until I get my facts straight and instead of simply repeating what others have already written, here are 2 links that provide some basic information: Walking and Hiking on the Monterey Peninsula (scroll down 1/3 of the page) and Big Sur Land Trust. During this hike, we accessed the canyon through the newly constructed tunnel under Carmel Valley Road at Highway 1. Given the proliferation of invasive plant species here, it is definitely land that could use some management.

ps 02/26/14 - My original link to the Big Sur Land Trust no longer exists.  It was an informative page about how they're connecting trails.  I wonder what happened.  Instead, here's a nice map of the area under BSLT purview.  And here's a more recent Hatton Canyon habitat post.

dusky-footed woodrat house ~ 02/04/11 ~ Hatton Canyon

dusky-footed woodrat house
Neotoma fuscipes

Thanks to my previous unknown nest or den post and Flickr commenters, I've learned these massive twig structures are not merely haphazard collections of twigs. Now, I recognize dusky-footed woodrat houses everywhere. Apparently, some groups even have up to 3-15 houses with different purposed chambers, such as nesting, latrines, and storing food and collected treasures. Did you know they're also called packrats? Ah, so that's where the term comes from. I know some people who are packrats, eh-hem. Google images to find more pictures of these stick houses; they can also be found under the name Neotoma macrotis (don't know what that's about). And, for a much better blog post about dusky-footed woodrats than I could ever do, check out The Nature of a Man.

ps 07/06/11 ~ For another species, desert woodrat (N. bryanti) and its middens , check out The Nature of a Man's east Mojave trip.

pss 02/15/12 - I removed the The Davidson College Biology embedded links, which were very informative, but is now unavailable. I suspect the professor either retired or moved to another university.

Apparently, my best pics of birds are when they're dead and don't move. I was sad to find this dead bird, but it did make identification very easy. It must have recently died, because its body was still pliable. Now, aren't you glad to not be my husband and hold my hand afterward? Hatton Canyon was an incredible find for listening to a cacophony of bird songs. In fact, I don't ever recall hearing so many birds, anywhere, and I've been places! It's too bad this was the only bird I managed to photograph during our hike. I strongly suspect that all those fancy gardens on the hills also have bird feeders. As a side note, Cornell's All About Birds (linked in the scientific name above) shows this bird as a winter migrant, whereas my handy-dandy bird book at home shows the exact opposite range map of year round vs. winter (still unnamed on my blog, because I worry about its accuracy - I'm badly attempting to follow that policy of if you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all). So, which is correct?

western dogwood ~ 02/04/11 ~ Hatton Canyon

OK, I'm getting pooped out on ID'ing plants for today. Does anyone know what these are? The green to red stems were gorgeous!

ps 02/10/11 - I originally posted this as unknown green and red stems. Thanks to Cindy at Dipper Ranch, I was able to track down the ID. I did a search query on which kinds of Cornus are found in this area and the subspecies occidentalis is the only one on record. That's good enough for me. As is becoming my custom, I obtained the common name from Jepson; I didn't like red-osier as a descriptor, because it makes it sound like it's a willow. I've made the corrections to the ID above and made a comment below.

fuchsia-flowered gooseberry
Ribes speciosum

Finally, a native wildflower! Apparently, gooseberries are edible... if you can get past the spiny fruit. For a nice blog post of eating gooseberries (note: not the same species as shown above), check out Rooted in California.

French broom
Genista monspessulana

Every time I see brooms alongside the roads, I am inexplicably reminded of the early spring yellow forsythias in Ohio. While not quite as all-over yellow as the forsythias, brooms are definitely spring bloomers. There are several species of brooms in our area, most non-native and a couple natives. From past visits to our local annual wildflower show in April, I remember them being named after European origins (Spanish, Scotch, Portuguese...).

scarlet pimpernel
Anagallis arvensis

Here's another non-native wildflower. Oy! Please note, the first picture was taken mainly to show this tiny flower up close and is not related to the unidentified prickly plant the bloom is resting on. It is apparently also know as the poor man's weatherglass due to it only opening on sunny days. I'm guessing the scarlet pimpernel comes from Europe. I didn't know it also has a blue or white version. Cool.

summer field mustard
Hirschfeldia incana

These were not technically in Hatton Canyon and were located across Carmel Valley Road. Don't quote me on this ID. I really should take a flower ID class. I'm trying to get over my prejudice for invasive non-native plant species. It's not their fault for being so successful. Of course, I'm not in the business of restoring habitats, either. Taken at face value, they really are quite pretty and extraordinarily common.

ps - I've added a postscript to an older mustard post, but will repeat it here. For plants, I often use the common names according to The Jepson Online Interchange from UC Berkeley, e.g., click to see the page for this particular species. I've found both Calflora (often embedded in scientific name ID) and CalPhotos (often embedded in common name ID) to be inconsistent in their use of common names due to database requirements and a variety of submission sources.

greater periwinkle
Vinca major

And yet, another invasive plant but still pretty. It hails from southern Europe.

three-cornered leek ~ 02/04/12 ~ Hatton Canyon

Even though this is considered an invasive plant, I really enjoy seeing it as a sign of spring. The alleyways in town have a profusion of these small white flowers. Here in Hatton Canyon, it looks like they're just starting to bloom. It's originally from the Mediterranean.

I still enjoy sucking on the stems of the Bermuda buttercup, aka sourgrass. I just have to make sure the stems I pick aren't anywhere near where dogs can do their thing, kinda like not eating yellow snow. This plant comes from South Africa.

ps 03/09/11 - In the past 2 years we've seen an explosion of this flower in places we used to never see it. For an excellent blog post, see Curbstone Valley Farm.

forget-me-not ~ 02/04/11 ~ Hatton Canyon

Similarly to my previous forget-me-not post, I'm not entirely sure of this ID. I suspect this may be another local garden escapee from atop the canyon and in such case it could be any number of cultivars. For a very informative and well-written post on forget-me-nots (including the look alike native Cynoglossum grande), check out Curbstone Valley Farm.

giant horsetail
Equisetum telmateia ssp. braunii

Horsetails are so unusual looking. I was surprised to find out it's considered a fern, in a broad sense of the definition. Makes sense, I guess. In a previous horsetail post, I removed the label native wildflower, obviously because it doesn't flower, and have added new labels for horsetails and ferns. It is a native plant. Like grasses, I don't attempt to ID most ferns and you'll notice a definite lack of grass and fern posts on Nature ID.

desert cottontail ~ 02/04/11 ~ Hatton Canyon

It's the year of the rabbit. Oy! I've had such a difficult time figuring out whether this is a desert cottontail or a brush rabbit. Along with the black-tailed jack rabbit, all three rabbit species are found in this area. Again, it's my belief that many online sites have their IDs incorrectly labeled, including popular photo sites... and, admittedly, my own Nature ID blog. I'm making this ID as a desert cottontail based on its behavior and the tuft of white showing in the pic above. Elkhorn Slough and

arroyo willow ~ 02/04/11 ~ Hatton Canyon

arroyo willow
Salix lasiolepis

I wish I could identify this willow specifically. Mainly, I wanted to show the cheerful catkins as a sign of spring. I guess that's where the term pussy willow comes from, which to me refers more to the grey, fuzzy buds before the yellow flowers emerge.

ps 02/08/11 - While looking up other plants in the area, I discovered the arroyo willow is the only willow on record for this area. It seems to match my pictures above. I've made the correction to the species name above.

Pacific aster ~ 02/04/11 ~ Hatton Canyon

best guess Pacific aster / common California aster
best guess Symphyotrichum chilense (formerly Aster chilensis)

This is my best guess ID for these two asters; if anyone knows better, please let me know. The leaves look quite different from the California aster I spotted at Elkhorn Slough back on October 16, 2010, but I chalk the differences due to time of year and different habitats. I'm also making the assumption that these are native and not garden escapees from the lovely gardens on both sides of the canyon. As I was looking up this ID, I discovered there are literally hundreds of aster garden cultivars. I generally think of asters as being a fall bloomer, but as I've said many times before, our local wildflowers on the coast don't seem to follow traditional blooming periods.