On Saturday D. and I decided to go to Ed R. Levin County Park and take a walk. Here are some pics I took.
The southern portion of the park, known as the Spring Valley Area, is named for the many springs that flow year-round in this area. We begin our walk at the scenic pond, a kids-only fishing hole.
Acorn woodpeckers are a common bird of western oak forests and live in family groups. They feed on insects, acorns, sap and fruits.
The pond is popular with mallards, many of whom are relaxing on the shore.
The mallard's scientific name, Anas platyrhynchos, means flat-snouted or wide-billed duck.
Itchy duck is itchy.
Hyssop loosestrife grows along the shore.
Birdsfoot trefoil is not native to North America and has become an unwelcome invasive species in some areas.
The willow canopy overhead.
Steller’s jays are good mimics. They have been known to imitate other birds, squirrels, cats, dogs, chickens, as well as some mechanical objects.
In the surrounding grassy meadows we see fenceposts with what look like lamp bases on them. Closer inspection reveals them to be standpipes, not shadeless lamps.
With many activities and amenities such as picnicking, fishing, children's play areas, 18-hole golf course, off-leash dog park, hiking, cycling, horseback riding and hang gliding, Ed Levin County Park gets a lot of use and has occasional parking problems (which are not an issue today, thank goodness).
The hills to the east are tinder-dry, full of dead annual grasses. They look basically unchanged since the time of the Spanish explorers.
A birdhouse on the park boundary fence.
Swallows like the open meadows because they are full of insects to eat.
A Swainson's thrush pauses on a fencepost to check us out as we head up the Spring Valley Trail.
Horses have the right of way on trails, but they have some rules for themselves too.
An equestrian on the Spring Valley Trail.
Spring Valley Trail.
Thistle floofs are an iconic image of summer.
Bindweed, a morning glory relative.
We head up the Los Coches Ridge Trail through oak woodland.
More tinder-dry hills come into view as the trail rises.
These trails are full of feathers. It seems as though, without exaggeration, every 6 feet or so there is yet another feather on the ground from some bird or another (wild turkey, Steller's jay, crow, raptor, unidentified) throughout our entire walk. This one is a wild turkey wing feather.
Elegant clarkia is also known as Canyon Clarkia, Woodland Clarkia and Elegant Fairyfan.
Sticky monkeyflower blossoms reach for a patch of sunlight along the trail. They are a common sight in areas with dappled shade.
Common lessingia is a daisy relative.
Yellow star-thistle had formidable spines. Don't touch, big owie.
The view to the west from the high point on Los Coches Ridge, looking toward San Francisco Bay.
The trail takes us to the park's boundary.
A lichen-covered rock under the fence bears the scrape marks gouged by the barbed wire pushed and shoved by the wind.
It's a rather tumble-down barbed wire fence.
The fence is in a rather empty, desolate field.
The empty, desolate field has a rather rusty thing in it.
No Trespassing in the empty, desolate field.
Why? Someone might steal the rusty thing?
The trail swings near the head of a spring.
Another very prickly plant, Italian thistle. Big owie if touched!
Looking back up the Los Coches Ridge Trail toward the spring, which is fenced off to keep grazing cattle away.
They have a bit of a star-thistle problem here. Many big owies walking along this stretch of trail.
A few final views from the ridge top before the trail takes us down into oak woodland again.
Looking across the Arroyo de los Coches at the tawny hills basking in the afternoon sun.
The California buckeye drops its leaves for the heat of summer to conserve water by remaining dormant until the winter rains start up again.
A shady stretch of the Los Coches Ridge Trail is welcome on a hot afternoon.
A few of the very many feathers strewn all along the entire trail.
A female damselfly lands on the trail where it nears Los Coches Creek.
Poison hemlock contains a transdermal poison and can make you very sick just from touching it.
We cross Los Coches Creek again and continue back on the Spring Valley Trail.
A male Common Whitetail, or Long-tailed Skimmer, dragonfly near Los Coches Creek.
Another thistle floof.
Fennel is a non-native weed but its flowers are popular with many kinds of insects, including this yellowjacket.
A common buckeye rests for a moment on the trail.
Spring Valley Trail.
Horses are not allowed on the Nature Trail.
Fortunately, this guy takes a parallel trail.
Just before he gallops up the hill, I hear him say to his horse, "Are you ready to rock 'n' roll? Hiyah!"
Someone has put this feather on display.
As the Nature Trail nears the pond where we began our walk, we pass a meadow where saplings are given a protected head-start and the late afternoon sun washes over the long golden grasses (and a standpipe).