San Pedro Valley County Park (10/24/2022)

Today was my OFFICIAL monthly day trip day. And I was very excited to return to SPVCP. Gotta give this place a nickname, as that is a MOUTHFUL.

Ok, so. As you can see, I saw a Brush Rabbit again. And, I’ll just say right now that I apologize if those of you reading my full blog post with ALL the photos just can’t handle THIS MUCH BUNNY. But, I can’t help it. I found Bunny Nirvana. It had to be documented.

Alright, so I’m going to try to make this brief. I ended up walking about 5 miles today, which is not my USUAL. At least, not typically involving uphill whatnots. AND, it’s late. Had some trouble making space for photos on my iPhone and other issues, blah blah blah. We’ll see if I’m ABLE to make this briefish!

So today, I did the Hazelnut Trail and Weiler Ranch Loop route. I wanted to also squeeze in the Valley View Trail Loop, but I definitely spent too much time with the bunnies for that. Next time.

Also, next time I’m going to avoid the $6 entrance fee and park just outside the park gate in the residential area. Didn’t see any signs that I couldn’t! And I saw most folks come in or out from past the parking lot. Lots of locals make use of this little hideaway!

The Hazelnut Trail was just as I expected, relatively quiet and stuffed with native plants. Spotted a newtome Common Drone Fly soon after I started up. That’s a handsome fly!

There were VERY FEW blooming flowers, so when I saw one it was EXHILARATING. Pacific False Bindweed and California Hedge Nettle and Pearly Everlasting and Orange Bush Monkeyflower and Pacific Aster and Common Snowberry (berries) and newtome Common Woolly Sunflower and Seaside Woolly Sunflower.

The trail had one spot of eucs, which I thought would make a fantastic owl nursery. But soon after that small spot, I got a fantastic glimpse of the hillside (or mountainside?) opposite the canyon (?). Covered with shrubs. So lush. So untouched and gorgeous. Definitely a different feeling from my last visit on the other side of the creek.

I then was on the ridge. And I was able to see Point Pedro and even Point Reyes! Way up there, I felt the first rushes of the ocean breeze, which I was so thankful for.

Merriam’s Chipmunks were everywhere, as Ren promised. On my way up, the Merlin app’s Sound ID feature was failing me on a simple bird call. I later realized that those were chipmunk calls! Sometimes it ain’t a bird, folks.

On my way down, I came upon a dead bird on the trail. It was something I did not recognize. About Sparrow-sized. And it must’ve been a recent death as nothing had gotten to it yet. Poor little thing. I know I said a while back that I’m surprised I haven’t seen more of such things, but I don’t hope to see them. I wished it had a good life, and I moved on.

Birdspotting was troublesome, in general. I’d often see one bird up ahead on the trail that would immediately fly into shrubbery once I saw it. But I did manage to see (and not get good photos of) a Spotted Towhee, Hermit Thrush, Steller’s Jays, Hutton’s Vireo, Northern Flicker, and a Hummingbird courtship.

I came upon a grove of Golden Chinquapin, which I believe I first saw in Huckleberry Preserve? Looks like they’re flowering, which was neat to see. Even saw an intriguing fungi growing in one of the trunks. And I like how they sometimes grow in fairy rings, like Coast Redwoods.

I made it to the end of the Hazelnut Trail, which dumps into the Weiler Ranch Trail. I spotted an open grassy meadow around the corner. And, there were some brown lumps over there!

THREE Brush Rabbits!! Two on one side of the meadow, and one on the other. After taking a couple photos, in case they’d soon run off, I took a couple slow steps toward them. And one of the two ran to the other side and disappeared behind the one already on that side. The two rabbits on either side didn’t seem to mind me stepping closer. But I gave them a good safe distance. I was pleased as punch to have found Bunny Meadow. And I wasn’t going to get greedy.

I started my walk back on the Weiler Ranch Trail, and MORE BUNNIES. One was just off the trail and didn’t mind one bit that I was relatively close and watching it eat. It even turned to me and LOOKED AT ME. So, you know how I thought I’d never have an intimate encounter with a bunny in the wild ever again? Yeah, I just didn’t realize that if you know where they are it CAN JUST HAPPEN.

Turns out, there were SO MANY BUNNIES along this trail that I LOST COUNT, FOLKS. It was about two hours before sunset. They were mostly at the far edge of the grassy meadows. But, SO SO MANY. If wild bunnies are your thing, you need to visit this place.

Just before I ended my trail time, some Golden-crowned Sparrows and California Quail and Columbian Black-tailed Deer all greeted me out.

I had a tiny bit of time left before I needed to get my car out of the parking lot, so I went to the picnic table area at the start of the Old Trout Farm Loop Trail. I just sat there, wondering if I might hear an owl. It was definitely getting dark right then.

After I sat down, I noticed a Dark-eyed Junco was just sitting at the edge of one of the picnic tables near me. All by itself. Like it was patiently waiting for something. Or maybe, like me, just enjoying the moment by itself.

And then I heard A HOOT. It was faint. And some guy was making horrible loud sounds with a leaf blower in the parking lot. But then I heard it again. Ok, so usually after I hear an owl in a place I’m not already certain they’re at, I don’t believe it’s an owl. Other birds can sound like owls. So.

But then it was CLEAR IT WAS A GREAT HORNED OWL. I walked up the far side of the Old Trout Farm Loop Trail, and it sounded like it was coming from the ranger’s house. The dang leaf blower made it impossible to hear it better, but the Brooks Falls Loop looks like it’d get close. I was determined to time it to be up there next time. Then I headed down to leave. About five steps in, I heard THE HIGH HOOT. A pair!!! So exciting, folks. SO DANG EXCITING.

I honestly didn’t need that highlight after the BUNNY EXTRAVAGANZA on top of seeing such native treats on Hazelnut Trail. But, you know I’ll take an owl any day. ANY DAY.

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