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.


Adam R. Paul said...

Hmm, I should hike there one of these days. We always gravitate to Point Lobos when we're in the area, and it's one of my favorite places anywhere, but in doing so, we haven't really explored the hiking elsewhere near Monterey.

FYI, according to, the "Great White Heron" form of the Great Blue Heron exists only in southern Florida and southward to the Caribbean, so you needn't worry about your Great Egrets being something else in California.

Anonymous said...

and don't worry about the lichen. Spanish moss doesn't occur here either... its a different thingie altogether.

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Compared to the last two summers, it really is remarkable how green some areas still are, and how much water there is. I'm not surprised to see the vernal pool with water this summer, we even still have water in our creeks that were dried up by early June last year. The lupine bloom this late is proof our summer has been rather out of sorts!

Nature ID said...

Adam, there's lots of great hiking places in the area. Hope you venture outside of Point Lobos the next time you're in the area.

Janet, I've missed you. Will have to check out your blog today.

Curbstone, it HAS been an unusual summer.