Today (it’s still “today” if I haven’t gone to bed yet, ok?) we went to Tilden Park. We had a short window of time in the afternoon with some time spent in Eastbaysia before and after, so I thought it might be nice to do a short bit of Naturing inbetween.
I found a loop trail in Tilden that was described as “shady” and was marked on AllTrails as “Easy” and 2 miles. It’s the Tower Trail to Redwood and Grizzly Peak Trails route. It’s not easy. NOPE. Not much is going on this time of year there. And, the air quality wasn’t great, so the views were just ok. But, even on a Just OK Day, it’s always nice to just be outside.
We felt pretty out of place much of the time, as we neither had walking poles nor a dog to walk. But, we carried on.
Past halfway of our initial descent, we came upon a pretty clearing with redwoods and picnic tables and restrooms. Couldn’t find a sign for the area, but it looked like a lovely spot to have a picnic in. Noted for another time…
Saw some newtome things, like Mountain Sweet Cicely (not positive on that, but that’s the best iNat guess as of now), Eggleaf Spurge, and Bluewitch Nightshade. Saw a single California Buttercup, Silverleaf Cotoneaster, California Phacelia remnants, an unidentified lupine (guessing Arroyo Lupine?), and Pacific Pea.
A note on the Phacelia. Ok, so I had seen this fuzzy pipe cleaner looking things in GGPark some time ago. I was never able to ID it. And, I gave up on trying. Then, today, I see those same fuzzy pipe cleaner things! And, I was able to find a more mature version of the plant. California Phacelia! I’ve seen it in bloom before, but I didn’t realize it had this form. So, MYSTERY SOLVED. I love solving mysteries. I am not kidding that it SPARKS JOY for me.
As for fungi, spotted what I thought were Chip Cherries, but iNat believes they’re Scarlet Waxy Caps. And, given the habitat, it makes sense. Also saw bunches of baby Turkey-Tail and False Turkey-Tail on many logs. Plus, one shelf fungi likely in a form I won’t get a positive ID on.
And, for fauna, not a lot! Some hummingbirds, some Chestnut-backed Chickadees, a Townsend’s Warbler, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet (got to see its ruby crown for a whole second!), Dark-eyed Juncos, some lizards, and a surprise fly-by of what I believe was an American Kestrel.
Ok, so we stopped to chat with an older couple we passed that was walking their rescue greyhound dog. The lady told us that they had previously seen a “juvenile raptor” from the opposite direction. She believed it was juvenile because of its small size. Now, my understanding is that juvenile raptors are not smaller than adult raptors, so I immediately thought maybe she saw a kestrel.
Not long after we left them, a small raptor flew into my view and into trees toward where we came from. We walked back to see if we could see it, and it flew again and glided perfectly over the trail, around the corner, and out of sight. Looked like an American Kestrel to me! So, that was exciting.
Nearish the end of our route, we came across a brick and rock labyrinth. And, soon after that, we were passed by two people on horseback! I can easily say that was a first.
I think the area will be very pretty in the spring, when all the California Phacelia and lupine are blooming. I saw blooming lupine along Grizzly Peak Blvd. on the way to the trailhead, but there were no good places to pull over to get a better look. I’m guessing Arroyo Lupine, but I’ll need to see what iNat shows for research grade observations in the area. Maybe it’s a lupine I don’t know? If so, that’ll be something to look forward to seeing again. Because I never met a lupine I didn’t like.