On an overcast Saturday, hoping the rain would hold off, D. and I returned to Arastradero to explore the southern part of the preserve. Here's my pics.
On our way to the gate that will give us access onto the Meadowlark Trail from a residential street at the preserve's boundary, we pass a rather anxious horse tethered next to a parking lot near a restaurant.
He really seems to want his person to come back.
On our way up the short but very challenging hill (challenging for me, at any rate), we see a wildflower called Chinese Houses. The blossoms almost seem to have little faces in them.
The buckeyes are in bloom, and are very fragrant.
As we pass one of the homes on the road, I can't help but wonder how serious they are about deterring trespassers.
At last we reach the gate and enter the preserve.
Windy Hill Open Space Preserve is visible from here.
I think they really need to mow here.
As the trail rises toward the ridge, Stanford University's Big Dish radiotelescope is visible behind us, searching the skies for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.
Pale Purple Pacific Pea.
Milk Thistle and Wild Oat.
A view of the Santa Cruz Mountains from the trail.
Remnants of the ranching days linger in the preserve.
Some are barely visible.
We see what looks like a small doghouse up in an oak tree. It is an owl nest box. The cobweb strands in the opening make me suspect it is unoccupied.
Field bindweed, a morning glory relative.
The view from the vista point (715').
A California quail races across the trail to escape an on-coming bicyclist.
We see more remnants from the ranching era; here, a few apple trees, the last of an orchard.
Up at the vista point are a few olive trees, and farther down the trail are a couple of apricot trees.
Looking back up the Meadowlark Trail.
Ahead lies a stretch of trail bristling with tall thistles.
These inch-long ground beetles are often called stink bugs because of their ability to eject a foul-smelling fluid when disturbed.
This western fence lizard is regrowing its tail, which probably broke off in a scuffle with a predator.
More Meadowlark Trail.
They are serious about keeping off the grass here, because the habitat is very fragile.
Looking up the hill toward vista point.
The view isn't too shabby from this part of the trail either.
Blow-wives is related to the dandelion.
Owl's Clover and Miniature Lupine.
The sky looks very threatening above this grassy hill, but the rain is holding off so far.
Another lovely view.
Shortstem Morning Glory, a.k.a. Hillside False Bindweed and Hill Morning Glory.
Oaks are a prominent part of grassland habitats.
This yarrow has tiny beetles in its flowers.
On the Bay Laurel Trail we pass through an oak woodland, where Rigid Hedge Nettle grows in the cool shade.
We take a spur trail uphill to see a huge water tank.
Why would a million-gallon water tank need a fire hydrant next to it? I mean, when was the last time one of those went up in flames?
On the Woodland Star Trail, a huge log lying in a little clearing provides good basking space for some lizards.
More Chinese Houses.
Woodland Star Trail.
The Three Amigos, Blue-eyed Grass.
Mule's Ears look like dwarf sunflowers and grow in meadows and grasslands.
The trail begins to climb, rounding a bend and opening out into a ridgetop meadow with grand views.
A Lesser Goldfinch observes late afternoon washing over the grasslands.