Bon Tempe Lake (5/3/2023)

Today I snuck in a bit of a day trip day! I HAD planned to do a full outing, but I was RAINED OUT. Can’t complain, ever, about rain. And fortunately, it was a satisfying if short visit.

I managed to seek out one of the last remaining wildflowers on my list for the year, the Pink Star-Tulip. I realized there was another way to locate them, even though their iNat observations are obscured. Can’t believe I never thought of it before! But my new and improved intel pointed me to Bon Tempe Lake, and that place has been on my list for some time now.

What a difference A TON OF RAIN MAKES. We’ve been to the area before, to walk around Lake Lagunitas. But it was Winter, I believe. And it looks SO DIFFERENT right now! SO DANG GREEN. SO MANY Sky Lupines lining both sides of the road. Just lush everywhere you look.

It likely helps that it was already raining when I arrived. I took a chance, with the 30% forecast for rain during just one early hour of the afternoon. And so I waited a bit after I arrived, and the rain did stop to a barely noticeable mist. Yay!

Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. But I was able to see a bit before thunder was heard and true rain returned.

Water was gushing from Lake Lagunitas. A couple groups of kids were out and wearing their rain gear. I first came upon a field of Sky Lupine, which would be the theme of the day. Mixed in were Bowltube Iris (?) and some Common Star Lily and California Buttercup.

At Bon Tempe Lake, a Common Merganser and a Double-crested Cormorant were hanging out on a floating tube thing. More Common Mergansers would come in later.

Spotted some fungi while there! Enchanting Orange Jelly Spot bits were on a fallen log. I honestly don’t understand how someone can walk by such a thing and not stop to ooh and ahh over it.

Then I found what I’d come to find. A FIELD of Pink Star-Tulips!! None were super close to the road, so I kept going to see if one or two might be easier to see. Then I came upon a handful of open fields with MORE Sky Lupine and TONS of Purple Owl’s-Clover. Some scattered California Buttercups here and there. And some lovely newtome California Goldenbanner. And all of it together was just GORGEOUS.

Walked a little down the road, and a Red-shouldered Hawk swooped in to perch on a dead tree branch. It was almost immediately dive-bombed by a Common Raven, at which point it gave up and flew off!

Also, Pacific Madrones are flowering right now. Love their Manzanita-like flowers. And super neato that we just learned about them in my class this week! I mean, I knew of Madrones before. But it was a treat to see them unexpectedly so soon after learning more about them.

Walked back to where the Pink Star-Tulips were. And a California Scrub-Jay was digging through the grass. While an Acorn Woodpecker looked for the perfect place for its acorn just above.

And then I spent some time with these newtome flowers. Dainty and ohsopretty. Would be nice to see them in the sunshine, but they took on a different and equally intriguing look with rain drops on them. It was honestly astonishing to see how many there were right there. It was a BONANZA. But they were hiding in the grass. So, it’d be somewhat easy to miss unless you were looking in the meadows.

Stopped to smell some flowering Pacific Madrone, as I’d forgotten to do so previously. Faint, but lovely.

A raptor was high up at the tippy top of a Coast Redwood. But it was facing away from me. And just looked black from behind. My binocs had water in the eye holes, so that didn’t help much. It was about then I realized I was sadly done with my Naturing time. The rain was getting a little stronger… Ah, well.

Got back to my car. And once I was inside, it started POURING. I’d made the right call! On my drive out, I spotted that same Red-shouldered Hawk on the opposite side of the road. Not getting harrassed. And a Deer crossed the road. More Deer showed up near the gate. And I forgot to note that when I arrived at the gate, I heard then saw a Wild Turkey casually cross the road while a car waited patiently for it.

So, short but sweet visit! Looking forward to returning and completing the loop around Bon Tempe Lake someday. Can’t believe I found that Pink Star-Tulip. I’d given up on it, truly. Maybe the rain this week will bring out more Fragrant Fritillaries that I can find when I’m back?? Or, is it something to look forward to next year? In the end, I was only Naturing at Bon Tempe Lake for a short while, but our Incredible Spring made it so worth it. Absolutely.

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