Twin Peaks (3/18/2022)

Today I went to Twin Peaks. So, I haven’t been more than twice, and it’s been forever. And, certainly never for Naturing. I wrote it off when we started our “Let’s explore big green spaces in our city” phase near the beginning of the pandemic. While I didn’t know what the nature was up there, I did know it was a tourist trap. And, you go for the views. I’m not into views, so I didn’t think twice about checking it out since becoming a naturalist.

But, THEN I read that the Mission Blue Butterfly can actually be found on Twin Peaks. So, I got interested. AND, THEN I saw an iNat observation of a MBB in SF County recently. Twin Peaks is the only place in SF County for it. So, I got SUPER INTERESTED.

California Poppies and purple lupine dotted my drive up to the top. Common Yarrow was the first thing I noticed after walking away from the parking lot and tourists. I chose not to head up to the tops of the peaks, as that’s where all the tourists were going. They can have the peaks and views. I was more interested in the plants growing on the chert peaksides.

There’s some stuff blooming up there! Beach Strawberry and Pacific False Bindweed and Silver Lupine and Dwarf Checkermallow and California Phacelia and California Beeplant. These were all on the closed roadside that weaves around the peaks, where there were far fewer people.

Once I spotted the lupine, I started doing quick scans for any Mission Blue Butterfly caterpillars. I found none. But, to my surprise, there was a bunch of Silver and Varied Lupine there. WAY MORE than I ever expected. It wasn’t peak bloom or anything for the Silver Lupine, but a bunch were out already. Fortunately, many were away from the trails/paths, so perhaps that’s where the MBBs are.

The southernmost bit had the most to look at. In addition to all the Silver Lupine over there, a Yellow-faced Bumblebee appeared to have face-planted onto a California Poppy. It wasn’t moving. And, it looked alive. And, perhaps exhausted?

Beautiful Barn Swallows were zooming constantly over the hillside. A Red Admiral and a West Coast Lady were battling fiercely every 30 seconds. Also over there were Blue Dicks and Footsteps of Spring and Soap Plant and more Dwarf Checkermallow. Bumblebees and bees were out and about. Common Ravens enjoyed riding the winds. And, some White-crowned Sparrows were watching it all.

Saw some super strange scat, perhaps? Small clusters of what looked like reddish berries. But, what the heck berries were they? Was it scat? Don’t recall seeing anything quite like it in the John Muir Laws Guide, but maybe it’s very local? A coyote got into something someone left? BIZARRE.

During my visit, I saw some newtome flora, too. Sea Muilla and Bluff Lettuce and Cottonbatting Plant. SCORE.

I walked the main road back to get a view of the West side. Seaside Buckwheat and Douglas Iris and Varied Lupine were over there. And, a Violet I couldn’t get close to for a decent photo to ID it. Close to the main parking lot, I spotted the Twin Peaks Reservoir. So, THAT’s what that looks like!

All in all, I learned that I knew nothing about Twin Peaks and had underestimated its Naturing potential. On a nottoowindy day, there is likely good butterfly action up there while the wildflowers are out. Also, another reason I was intrigued to check the area out was that I wondered if Checker Lilies might grow there. They’ve been seen up on Bayview Park. In SF County! Made me wonder about other high elevations in the city.

I didn’t see any Checker Lilies. But, a lot of the hillsides aren’t accessible by trails. And, that’s a good thing. But, made me wonder. I should look up on iNat to see if they’ve ever been spotted there. Gotta do that.

I was pretty chilled near the time I’d planned to head home. Those winds up there! But, they brought Blueblossom scents my way as I hurried to my car. So, sometimes they bring gifts, too. Just like places you assumed weren’t worth visiting.

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