Today was supposed to be the day I went to Eastbaysia to drop my digital camera off for a cleaning and then go see about some Western Leatherwood in Tilden. But, that didn’t happen. Longstoryskipped, I went to Edgewood instead.
I’ve been wanting to visit for some time (as I knew Checker Lilies were there, and my teacher recently telling me about rare butterflies there), AND there were prospects of Western Leatherwood, which I’ve been keen to see soon. And none of it was going to involve crossing and paying for a bridge.
First thing I saw was a warning sign for wild mushrooms, which got me REALLYREALLYEXCITED. But then I re-calculated my expectations. Are we past that time now? Also saw a sign for “No Dogs” which was an unexpected delight. Though, I feel that “No Dogs” signs should be required to explain the harm to the habitat they can do. It’s important to share that kind of info, I think.
After crossing a sweet little creek, I made my way to the Sylvan Loop Trail. And after stopping to take note of the intriguing wood layers of a Coast Live Oak stump (to compare with the Monterey Pine I saw yesterday in GGPark), I started noticing some flora, like Bird’s-eye Speedwell and a couple random Daffodils and even a small group of California Mugwort. And then it started. The Pacific Hound’s Tongue. What a treat! Oh, and over there, too. And, there! AND EVERYWHERE. It is maybe the best place to be surrounded by it for almost every major section of this loop! Saw it in pink and the palest blue, too.
The trail was a bit wet and muddy here and there, but having waterproof hiking boots proved it to be no problem.
Passed by the last view of a private house adjacent to the park (that had its own treehouse add-on) and was from then on immersed in Edgewood. The place has some history that I need to read up on. There are some super old moss-covered stone walls here and there…
Pacific Poison Oak was in every nook and cranny. In a crazy assortment of sizes. The whole place is WELL PROTECTED.
Came upon your average tree stump and noticed some quite large and yellow fungi growing out of the side of it! Looked like Western Jack-O’-Lantern! I’ve only ever seen it once before, in China Camp. But this looked just like it. Had to work with getting around the tenacious Poison Oak encircling it, but I managed to pluck one. Unfortunately it came with others and rolled out of my hand and into a pile of Poison Oak some feet away. UGH!
Plucked just one more, as there was SO MUCH THERE, so I could get better photos. I read or heard that they have bioluminescence, so I thought I’d take it home and see about that AND get a spore print. But a couple of bugs were found crawling about it, and that’s not a good sign. Unless you want to end up with lots of baby bugs in your house.
After noticing some very fresh scat (that I didn’t immediately recognize) nearby, I continued up the very gradual incline. And then noticed that Madrone trees were starting to appear and mix in with the California Bays and Coast Live Oaks. Golden Ear fungi also began making appearances, as they would continue to do throughout the rest of the trail. Cramp Balls and Turkey-Tail.
And then I got to the end of a switchback. And I noticed an informal trail leading up to a small meadow. Decided to just head up a little and take a look-see. This small meadow was quite lush and warmly lit from the sunshine. No immediate signs of wildflowers, until I looked down. Henderson’s Shooting Star! My first of the year!
Admired it, lovingly, as I can’t help but do. They always look like they’re so intently looking at something below them. After being satisfied with the photos I took (including one view from above, which I think I’ve never seen before?), I looked around. And there were a couple more, closer to trees. Aw. I can see why there’s an informal trail leading here. I had thought that what I’d seen on the walk up, short red stems, were Pacific Poison Oak. Which I steered clear of. Nice mimicry!
Soon after I saw the first Shooting Stars, I started seeing Warrior’s Plume. And much of the trail following that would be FLOODED WITH THEM. It is literally Warrior Plumelandia there right now. Fans should visit ASAP.
Spotted a large white ball in the grassy ground and had to investigate. One similar-looking fungi but smaller was easy to reach. And the top was so nice and cold. Looked like an Agaricus, and after I’d held it in various poses for my camera, there were yellow streaks on it. Yellow Stainer, I think!
Started noticing more Dusky-footed Woodrat homes, of which I saw a handful of at the start. Owls must be in the area…
After stopping to inspect some Black Witches’ Butter and an impressive message board of maybe six different TYPES of scat (??), I came across another unexpected wildflower. Common Star Lily! These first handful of noteworthy wildflowers all matched what I’ve seen at China Camp. And that same Western Jack-O’-Lantern, too. Both parks are Oak Woodlandy. Must have other similarities?
More Turkey-Tail and Splitgill Mushroom and Netted Crust (I think) all led me to the first open patch of space and sunshine. And here’s where the birds were! Though I’d heard a number of birds leading up to this point, this was the first time seeing any. Some Crowned Sparrows and California Towhees were feeding in the grass. But my path continued in the other direction. Ah, well.
Started seeing signs of protected areas, and I started wondering if maybe this is where the butterfly habitat was. The trail started turning a pretty brick color (from the chert underneath?), and I got to a vista point. Where a bench was perfectly placed. And from there, I could see the massive amounts of SNOW covering Mount Hamilton and the part of the Diablo Range just North of it! I’d caught glimpses of it on the drive down, but this was the best view. Now, a view with SNOW is a view I’m absolutely interested in!
After passing by a Ruby-crowned Kinglet that quickly disappeared into some massive Coast Live Oaks, I entered a very large open space of grassy meadow. About five Deer were far ahead, grazing under some trees. And bright purple Silver Bush Lupine was flowering gloriously. A couple Bumblebees were taking advantage of it. Maybe one was a California Bumble Bee? That was at the top of the guess list on iNat for my crap photo of it. Hm! Never heard of that Bumblebee before!
Started noticing the pretty Serpentine rocks on and in the trail and randomly assorted in the meadow. Took another left to continue on the loop, and I saw something familiar. A spot alongside the trail that had crushed bits of rock that was covered with short moss. I’ve seen this before. At the shellmound on San Bruno Mountain. Hm! The bits of rock didn’t look like shell bits, but it all looked ohsosimilar.
Arrived at a bit of forest and spotted more Golden Ear and even some Stinking Orange Oyster, that I would’ve loved to go see up-close, but the Poison Oak kept me where I belonged. Another Henderson’s Shooting Star appeared, signaling the handful more to show up in the meadow ahead.
Left the brief open space, after noting the distinct ocean breeze I was feeling, and entered a more woodsy area. Where the Warrior Plumelandia firmly established itself. It was almost strange. Like they were taking over the place.
Spooked a Bewick’s Wren, passed through shaded but glowing-green grassiness, and realized I hadn’t yet seen any Western Leatherwood or Checker Lilies. Not long after that thought, I saw my first one. Checker Lily. But not blooming. Turns out, I didn’t see a single blooming Checker Lily there, though they are definitely present. Ah, well. I’ll be checking in on the ones on San Bruno Mountain soon enough.
A Black-tailed Bumble Bee visited every single small Pacific Hound’s Tongue flower on this one plant before I started seeing blooming Western Solomon’s Plume. Made me homesick for Mount Sutro and its False Solomon Seal, which looks a lot like it.
Made a quick detour to check out a less-used trail. It was marked as “No Access” on AllTrails, but I saw no sign for that. Random car tire. Scattering of Milkmaids. More notyetblooming Checker Lilies. Apparently ends at Sylvan Way. Guess it’s a neighborhood entrance?
Back on the main trail, I came upon a pretty large plant about to flower. Giant Wakerobin, WHUT! It looked SO CLOSE to blooming. And it was the only one I saw. It’d be so nice to come back and see it in bloom… Soon past it, I came upon a small waterfall. I’m not one for waterfalls, but this one was quite charming. I guess because it was on the small side. And no, not one photo looks even close, so FORGET IT.
Just a couple Blue Dicks flowers were all to note before I suddenly found myself at the start of the loop. But on the trail back, I noticed something I’d missed on the way in. A single Summer Snowflake plant was along the trail and was in bloom. And further up were two large clusters of them, which I casually ignored on the way in. Dismissed them as Three-Cornered Garlic. But, no. They happened to be a dainty white flower that I’ve only seen once before. Along Stow Lake. In just one spot. That has since been changed and likely no longer contains the Summer Snowflake anymore. But here they were. An introduced flower, but one I am so fond of. Dainty flowers that droop down to look at the ground are so precious! And this one has mesmerizing anthers, which appear TO GLOW at the right angle.
It’s important to be reminded not to dismiss what you think you know. You could be wrong. And had I not randomly caught sight of it on my way out, I wouldn’t have gotten to enjoy seeing it again. Enjoy holding the small flower in my hand to appreciate it again. And be reminded how much I like that flower.
Wandered a little in the picnic areas. Marveled at some gorgeous moss-covered steps leading to a sign that said to not enter. Watched a Yellow-faced Bumble Bee seemingly appear magically out of a crevice from one of the steps to bumble about, looking for a flower, perhaps? And saw a group of Deer (maybe the same group from before?), feeding off a hillside.
And that was it. No Western Leatherwood. No blooming Checker Lilies. But SO MUCH ELSE! Wildflower wonderland right now, even without my targets. Must be amazing in late March. Looking forward to returning to see more of it soon.
On the drive back, I saw something INTERESTING. Ok, so for those who don’t know, I used to drive up and down 280 for my work commute. And I got to counting the wildlife I’d see along it (Great Egrets, Red-tailed Hawks, White-tailed Kites, Deer, a Coyote once, and even a Bald Eagle once). At one point, I started seeing Peregrine Falcons on top of the tower in front of the Flintstones house. I saw two there a couple of times. It was always exciting to see them when they were there.
Okokok, so I’m approaching the tower. And I’m looking for them, like I always do. But it’s getting dark. And then I see a fluttering of wings appear. As if a Pigeon had just landed or something. But then the fluttering stopped, and the bird flew off. And a Peregrine Falcon remained on the tower! Did I just bear witness to PEREGRINE SEX??? I THINK I DID.
Yep, that’s how I ended my Naturing time ultimately today. With Peregrine sex. That is no joke, folks.