Thursday, April 17, 2014

habitat ~ 04/17/14 ~ Chews Ridge in the Ventana Wilderness

Chris Tenney took me up to the Chews Ridge Lookout to find hilltopping duskywings and a couple blues.  He's been monitoring this site for butterflies for a number of years.  The weather wasn't ideal with a high cloud haze, which we had hoped would have burned off by noon this far inland from the ocean.  We still had some measure of success when the clouds uncovered the sun for brief bouts.  I'm now confident I can identify a Boisduval's blue (Plebejus icarioides), even though I didn't manage a picture of the numerous ones flying knee high above a grassy slope.  We also saw a handful of Columbian skippers (Hesperia columbia), but I'd have a hard time distinguishing them from other local Hesperiinae.

It's really beautiful up there and completely unfamiliar to me.  The variety of pines and oaks are new to me.  There's also the MIRA Oliver Observing Station down the ridge and plenty of charred evidence from the massive 2008 Basin Complex Fire.

I don't have a local's perspective of the area at all, despite having lived in neighboring Monterey for the past 11 years.  The Ventana Wilderness of the Los Padres National Forest is a place I tend to avoid, except for the trailhead at Los Padres Dam.  The scary fire danger and hidden pot farms make me nervous.  It's rugged with long, curvy, dirt roads as the only way in.  I was thankful Chris was driving and knew where to go.  Although, we did get lost on the way back.  How the land in the Santa Lucis Mountains is divvied up is a complete mystery to me.  I have a feeling if I keep going out with Chris to look for butterflies, I will become better acquainted with this remote and unique area.  I think he's an explorer at heart.  I feel like I should brush up on CPR and reevaluate my standard take-alongs, because places like this require preparedness.


Jennifer said...

I love the shot in the middle with all the trees.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

That's a spot where the fire hit, which may explain why there's not much in the way of understory plants.