Joaquin Miller Park (1/30/2023)

Today I had another rehearsal in Eastbaysia, and thus another afternoon of Naturing there! This time I checked out another newtome place!

I am slowly but surely familiarizing myself with the East Bay Hills? East Bay Range? Not sure what the whole stretch of green is called all together, but I’m making the rounds! And, despite my initial reluctance to visit this particular park, due to all the comments on AllTrails of all the mountain bikers you’d expect to encounter, I’m glad I paid a visit.

That said, my aversion to trails heavily trafficked by bikers may keep me away. I need to find an easy way to find trails where bikers aren’t allowed. Even where dogs aren’t allowed. Too many distractions to me and to potential wildlife encounters!

I decided to try out the Sunset to Sequoia Bayview and Big Trees Loop. Wasn’t expecting a ton of fungi sightings, as it seems there aren’t as many in Redwood Forests, but I spotted a handful! Maybe some Mulch Fieldcap and Common Conecap and Armillaria sinapina and Ganoderma brownii and an exquisite Parrot Mushroom. Also saw, for certain, Large White Leucopax and Redwood Rooter. All in all, decent fungi finds given my expectations!

The route includes a bit of Palo Seco Creek, which delightfully had water flowing in it. You can still very easily see where it must have flowed like crazy along the Sunset Trail. Such deep grooves!

Baby leaves of Pacific Poison Oak and other plants without flowers just yet, like Pink Honeysuckle and Hedgenettle and Huckleberry, were nice to see. Would be interesting to come back in the Spring.

As for fauna, I think I might’ve heard a Dark-eyed Junco singing for the first time? Or, I’ve heard it before but never knew what it was. Many Juncos about! So lovely to hear them all fluttering so fast in small groups near me as I approached. A single Hairy Woodpecker was doing so well at picking off exterior trunk bits above me that they came snowing down around me as I tried in vain to get a good photo of it. And, I managed to see a VARIED THRUSH!

It was for a whopping TWO SECONDS that I saw it well in my binocs, as it immediately flew into obscurity (aka behind tree limbs and in low light). Got photos just good enough for an iNat ID. And to prove to myself that I saw it. I never see them enough or for long.

As I was waiting for the Varied Thrush to come out that never did, I happened to catch sight of a raptor within the Redwoods. Just perched on a small stick. Red-tailed Hawk, I think! Looking down, of course.

Then I was on the Big Trees Trail Loop. And if you want a relatively flat walk through Redwoods, this is a nice spot for it.

And then I heard A HOOT. That sounded far away. And then A HIGH HOOT. Okokok, so I don’t understand this at all. Great Horned Owls in a Redwood Forest?? I didn’t think they did that! I honestly don’t know why I thought that. But I was not expecting it, I SWEAR.

As I was IN SHOCK and continuing on, I started to see some Pine trees. AH! That must be it. There must be a spot with a lot of PINES.

Nope. It didn’t last long. I continued on and soon found myself in the Redwood Forest again, and thankfully the trail arrived to EXACTLY the spot they were in. And IN REDWOOD TREES. I had to go off trail to find them. But I did! The male was super high up and obscured to me. But in trying to get a better look at him, I managed to catch sight of the female nearby. Who was not obscured at all. On a small branch. And WATCHING ME as if she’d never been watched before! It was INTIMIDATING.

She flew closer to him, and they continued to duet hoot while I made my way back to the trail and away from their roosting place. Just amazing. More owl photos below for the owl fans.

That was pretty much it! I feel like I’ve hit the big parks at this point over there. Not going very South of Oakland. Where there is much exploring to do at Anthony Chabot and Lake Chabot. So maybe, with my remaining three rehearsals in Eastbaysia, I’ll go look for newts in Tilden? Or check out a random Preserve? What the hell is Siesta Valley Recreation Area?? If you have any recs, I’ll take ’em!

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