The days are warming up and the butterflies are out in force. Pipevine swallowtails (Battus philenor) were everywhere when I visited at the beginning of April, large dark shapes swooping across the trail. I was excited to find a jumping spider (Phidippus sp.) on a branch of poison oak.
I watched a lone carpenter ant (Camponotus sp.) wandering along the mud next to a trickle of water running across the trail. Purple sanicle (Sanicula bipinnatifida) is a beautiful wildflower that I didn’t see in the reserve last year.
Pipevine swallowtail caterpillars were busy eating the tips of California figwort (Scrophularia californica). It is clear that vines are taking advantage of the bare chaparral shrub branches after the fire, and this year the vines are even more abundant, especially on the hillsides.
I had been unaware that there were yellow variants of woolly paintbrush (Castilleja foliolosa), but both colors were growing along the creek trail.
I didn’t spot any live grasshoppers on this visit, but did see a very flat one in the middle of the trail.
There were lovely patches of fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii) and abundant wild cucumber fruits (Marah fabaceus).
The prohibition of dogs in the reserve is unfortunately ineffective. Just about every third group of hikers I saw on this busy Saturday had a dog with them.