Sunday, October 14, 2012

habitat ~ 10/14/12 ~ Garland Ranch - Garzas Creek

October 14, 2012

After seeing the gorgeous color change of the bigleaf maples up at Memorial Park a couple days earlier, I wanted to check how the seasonal progression was doing closer to home.  We heard there was only a sprinkling of rain here from the thunderstorm that passed through. Garzas Creek is the one place I particularly associate with native autumn colors from bigleaf maples and CA sycamores. It's 12 miles inland and often has 10-20 °F temperature extremes than at home on the Bay.  It was a bit chilly when we started our hike, and then it got uncomfortably toasty by lunchtime.  What surprised us initially was seeing all the evergreen oaks had been completely, and I mean completely, defoliated by CA oak moths.  It was eerie walking through a coastal CA oak forest with only grey bare branches, twigs, and dried grasses.  If it weren't so warm, I would have thought I was somewhere in February after a winter of regular freezing and snow.  The redwoods and CA bay trees were very easy to spot in the distance.  While the maples had pretty much lost all of their leaves, the sycamores were still quite green.  I wonder if there are different mechanisms for color change and leaf fall between the two tree spp.  Even though the foot bridges won't be taken out for another 2-3 weeks, they weren't necessary. Garzas Creek was bone dry in most places and only had a couple standing pools of water in others. The whole landscape felt very dry and somewhat flat of color to me.  Compare these pictures with those we took November 19, 2011 and November 11, 2010.  If we have more rain in the next 4-5 weeks, I wonder if the ferns and moss will show themselves.  What's unusual about our area is that winter usually signals a time of new green growth.  October is definitely a time of transition.