March Visit (3/5/2020)

At the beginning of March I set off to hike the full loop up to Blue Ridge, down the spine of the ridge, past the homestead and back along the creek trail. It is only a five mile hike, but one that I generally do not have time to do given that I stop to draw to frequently. Blissfully ignorant of the new reality that was about to descend on all of us, I marveled at the opportunity to get the full perspective of high and low habitats at the Reserve.

I started by trying something new: marking the spots where I stopped to draw and noting the thing that had caught my attention there. (I drew the map in advance and added the cartoons of the flowers after the fact.)

StebbinsSketchbook1_2020Mar5

I was extremely pleased to find California pipevine in bloom! Last year, I caught the flowers once they had dried out, so was determined to find them fresh this year. They look so stunning when backlit with the light glowing through their hollow, yellowy-green bodies veined in red.

StebbinsSketchbook2_2020Mar5

Variable checkerspot caterpillars were plentiful on the ridge. I originally misidentified the first one I saw, but realized my mistake when I came on a crowd of them feeding on woolly paintbrush, one of their main host plants.

StebbinsSketchbook3_2020Mar5

Two of my favorite tiny wildflowers—purple sanicle and miniature lupine—were growing in bright exposed areas along a steeper part of the trail.

StebbinsSketchbook4_2020Mar5

An anise swallowtail (originally misidentified in the drawing) held still long enough for me to do a careful drawing. The grey hairstreak was not so patient, so I drew it based on memory as it flitted from twig to twig.

StebbinsSketchbook5_2020Mar5

This is the first year I’ve seen fruits on the manzanitas that were burned!

StebbinsSketchbook6_2020Mar5

So many beautiful colors on the hike: so hard to remember to keep moving and not try to draw every single new flower I see.

StebbinsSketchbook7_2020Mar5

The effects of our extremely dry February were abundantly evident in the creek, which was incredibly low and filled with algae. It was completely dry near the entrance to the Reserve.

StebbinsSketchbook8_2020Mar5

Now that I know that this was my last visit for a long time, with Stebbins closed to support the shelter-in-place rules, I am so grateful for this wonderful gift of a hike.

April Visit #2 (4/22/2019)

Having walked along the creek trail a few days earlier, I returned to Stebbins to hike up to Blue Ridge. Abundant insect life:

StebbinsSketchbook1_2019Apr22 sm

A beautiful view of the full creek:

StebbinsSketchbook2_2019Apr22 sm

An iris I had not seen yet at Stebbins:

StebbinsSketchbook3_2019Apr22 sm

A very calm and quiet cicada:

StebbinsSketchbook4_2019Apr22 sm

April Visit (4/1/2017)

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.

SpiderEtc_2017Apr01_sm

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.

AntEtc_2017Apr01_sm

Common buckeye (Junonia coenia) caterpillars were busy eating the tips of one of their host plants, 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.

CaterpillarsEtc_2017Apr01edit_sm

I had been unaware that there were yellow variants of woolly paintbrush (Castilleja foliolosa), but both colors were growing along the creek trail.

Wildflowers3_2017Apr01_sm

I didn’t spot any live grasshoppers on this visit, but did see a very flat one in the middle of the trail.

Wildflowers2_2017Apr01_sm

 

There were lovely patches of fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii) and abundant wild cucumber fruits (Marah fabaceus).

Wildflowers1_2017Apr01_sm

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.

Dog_2017Apr01_sm