Today we visited the Oak Woodlands!
I cannot remember the last time I was out there. And, I’m not proud to say that I primarily went for The Book. I entirely missed a planned visit to go during Summer. But, official Summer just ended. And I knew I’d be able to tell what was blooming in those months. Much of which I’d seen in the past and neglected to note properly… And Brian wanted to visit again, just because.
We started on Whiskey Hill to get to the Southeast entrance. While there, a handful of butterflies kept us company. Like a Red Admiral and West Coast Lady, who battled each other furiously. I previously thought butterflies all died out by the end of Summer, based on pretty much absolutely nothing. So, I’ve been pleased as punch to continue seeing them!
Also, some Laetiporus fungi crept out from a large log. More would later be found along the Oak Woodlands Trail. They are literally EVERYWHERE.
All was not surprisingly quiet along the Oak Woodlands Trail. We didn’t even encounter a single bicyclist, which was nice. The former stump beehive was still empty, with a handful of bees nearby. Wonder where they all went?
A lovely orange Cross Orbweaver was on display near some Pokeweed. We heard a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Brian saw an Orange-crowned Warbler. And while trying to see a bird very much outofview, a Cooper’s Hawk swooped in right past us! I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one there before, so that was awesome.
Got to the top (aka the Northeast corner), and soon after turning West we came upon a conspiracy of Common Ravens. One was crying like a shocked lady or something, which kept cracking me up. Squirrels abounded, as well. The Ravens were apparently chasing out a raptor (maybe that same Cooper’s Hawk that flew right to this spot?). They didn’t seem to mind us much. I love being able to get close enough to them to admire how beautiful they are and the variety of shades of black (and blue?) on them.
It was right around then that I started to notice how many acorns on the Coast Live Oaks had been taken. Like, TONS. Like, it was difficult to see acorns intact. This continued throughout the rest of our time there. Harvest Time is NOW.
Oh, and Brian got to see two Townsend’s Warblers, I think. His first for the season, yay.
Coyote Brush has started flowering! Pacific Asters were still holding on. And I spotted Cramp Balls on a Coast Live Oak branch! After exclaiming my discovery to Brian, he said that he never thought he’d ever hear me say, “OOOOH! CRAMP BALLS!!!” Yep, I say such things now. True story.
After noting that Portuguese Laurel leaves turn a glorious Autumnal red color, we finished the trail. I had gotten the data I went there for, and we got to spend some time within that enchanted and haunted forest like we had hoped to do.
We stopped at the Lily Pond on the way back and enjoyed seeing some delightful Onion-stalk Parasol mushrooms on a Man Fern trunk that Brian spotted. The Great Blue Heron of the Lily Pond was hiding behind that tree piece near the rock where the turtles like to hang out. It flew out while we were there and landed on that rusty pipe platform thing it loves.
The pond itself looked pretty nice today! Much of the algae was gone. AND, there were little orange fishes in there! Ok, I have never seen such a thing before. Baby Amur Carp, perhaps??
Also there was a Shamrock Orbweaver, which I captured in what I think I’m going to start calling my photopaintings. Nope, I didn’t paint it, but it looks like a painting, doesn’t it?
A quick stop to see my owls proved fruitless, but we didn’t stay long to look in less obvious spots. Happy Hour was calling. But, on our way out we walked through the CAS Botanical Garden. AND, just as I was wondering if any Chocolate Arions might come out (since the heavy fog was dripping onto us by then), I SPOTTED ONE!
It was on the trail, poor thing. And, it wasn’t moving. I picked it up gently and moved it to the other side of the trail. It barely moved when I picked it up and when I set it down. And it didn’t move at all when I left it on the ground. No pissed off dance, like last time. I hope it’s ok. I hope I didn’t harm it. I realized after the fact that going forward I should use a leaf or something to gently scoop it up. But I couldn’t leave it on the trail. I just couldn’t.
So, it was great to visit the little forest we have in GGPark. And get the data I needed. And see a handful of neato things. And to share it all with someone for a change.