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

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.

CaterpillarsEtc_2017Apr01_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

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: