September Visit (09/26/2019)

It was late fall, but still felt like summer when I visited Stebbins in September. Each season has its highlights, and I went to the canyon looking forward to flying insects, active birds, and the early hints of fall colors. I wasn’t disappointed! The Anna’s hummingbirds (Calypte anna) and the grasshoppers were quite lively, and it sometimes took me a minute to register which of the two large flyers had just whizzed past my head.

Poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) is always showy this time of year. I love to see it looking healthy and abundant: it is an important food source for birds, herps, insects and some mammals.

I spent a long time watching a gray hairstreak (Strymon melinus) on slender clover (Trifolium gracilentum). I hadn’t seen one in Stebbins yet – it is a pretty little butterfly!

StebbinsSketchbook1_2019Sep26

StebbinsSketchbook2_2019Sep26

StebbinsSketchbook3_2019Sep26

StebbinsSketchbook4_2019Sep26

StebbinsSketchbook5_2019Sep26

StebbinsSketchbook6_2019Sep26

March Visit (3/19/2019)

I had two goals on this visit to the Reserve: to conduct my usual observations and to finalize the locations where I planned to have my field sketching workshop participants stop for our six drawing exercises. I didn’t get to the Reserve until around noon, when everything had warmed up into the sixties. With the bright sun, there were butterflies absolutely everywhere! Plenty of wildflowers, too, including California pipevine (Aristolochia californica), which I had not managed to find in bloom in previous years.

StebbinsSketchbook_2019Mar19_sm

 

StebbinsSketchbook2_2019Mar19_sm

 

StebbinsSketchbook3_2019Mar19_sm

 

StebbinsSketchbook4_2019Mar19_sm

November Visit (11/30/2016)

In November, on a cool but not cold day, I hiked to the top of Blue Ridge.  Looking out at Lake Berryessa, it was easy to see part of the area burned by the Cold Fire last summer.

berryessaview_2016nov30_sm

On the way up the trail, I looked for mushrooms enjoying the damp left by rains earlier in the month, and observed regrowth of mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides), blue oaks (Quercus douglasii), and chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum).  The leaves of yerba santa (Eriodictyon californicum) along the trail were losing their waxy coating.  The waxy coating, presumably beneficial in retaining water during dry months, is resinous and highly flammable.  Yerba santa seeds may require fire to germinate and can also resprout from rhizomes following fire.

hikingup_2016nov30_sm

Hillsides stripped of their erosion-controlling vegetation by the fire have been shored up with erosion matting installed by Tuleyome and Friends of Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve.

restoration_2016nov30_sm

Looking across Cold Canyon I was struck by the “rivers” of dead tree branches running down the canyons of Pleasants Ridge.  They made a ghostly grey against the greens of new growth and the hills still mostly yellow from the summer.

pleasantsridge_2016nov30_sm

 

blueridge_2016nov30_sm

A few mid-action photos:

October Visit (10/31/2016)

On a cool gray day, I thought that a scrub jay (Aphelocoma californica) in a gray pine (Pinus sabiniana) made a beautiful silhouette against the sky.

graypine_2016oct31_sm

A  number of spotted towhees (Pipilo maculatus) were foraging in the smaller trees along the trail.  I caught one on a perch next to some stairs, and then drew a close-up from a photo.

spottedtowhee_2016oct31_sm

All over the canyon, poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) in its fall colors glowed vividly against the green and gray of the day.

poisonoak_2016oct31_sm

Mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides) resprouting.  I love the shape of their leaves.

mountainmahogany_2016oct31_sm

Female coyotebrush (Baccharis pilularis) flowers, and a view of coyotebrush resprouting.

coyotebrush_2016oct31_sm