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Pahavit's Universe

Date: 11-24-2011 12:37 AM
Subject: Pulgas Ridge
Security: Public
Tags:banana slug, berry, bone, canopy, fern, field trip, fungus, hetch hetchy, lichen, mist, mushroom, nest, oh hai, poison oak, pulgas ridge, rat, sign, slug, turkey tail fungus, water tank
Pulgas Ridge

On a rain-showery Sunday, D. and I went to Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve to go for a walk, and I took these pics.

The rain showers make the woods lovely, dark and deep.

Lichen grows abundantly on the limbs of trees where there is enough moisture and pure air free of pollution.

Rain on madrone branches brings out their rich color and accentuates their twisted forms.

Lichen-encrusted tree trunk.

We see out first mushroom of our walk today.

We pass by more lichen-covered trees, ghostly presences in the mist.

Brilliant red poison oak leaves glisten in the rain.

The live oaks lining the trail offer some shelter from the raindrops.

The trail winds through a mixed oak woodland and emerges onto an open hillside of chaparral.

This dusky-footed woodrat nest is taller than I am.

This preserve is a critical habitat for the endangered San Francisco dusky-footed woodrat (Neotoma fuscipes annectens).   These rodents build large homes of twigs, inside of which are typically a nest bedroom or two lined with grasses and shredded bark; a pantry full of acorns and other seeds, leaves, and twigs for food; and several latrines for waste (a woodrat poops over 100 pellets a day, which eventually get shoved out into the forest where they fertilize the soil). The nests might have a few scattered bay leaves to repel fleas.

The daughters of female woodrats usually build or take over nests near their mothers', creating maternal neighborhoods of extended, multigenerational families.   Woodrats share their houses with other animals, including mice, lizards, salamanders, snails, the occasional snake, and ticks.

The woodrat is also known as a pack rat because of its propensity for acquiring seemingly useless objects.  Tennis balls, eyeglasses and Bic lighters and pens have been found in abandoned nests, and woodrat houses near mining camps and cabins elsewhere in the West have contained silverware, dentures, boots, and even dynamite caps.

Chamise in the rain.

The trail takes us along as the rain seems to be letting up.

Views from the trail.

The rain has let up but there is still lots of mist moving down the gulches in the canyon.

There used to be a tuberculosis sanitarium here prior to the open space preserve, and there is evidence of its infrastructure visible here and there along the trail.

A rainbow arches briefly across the sky as we round a bend in the trail.

Lichen covers the twisted limbs of a manzanita.

The trail brings us back into a woodland once more, full of mosses, lichens and ferns.

This log is bursting with false turkey tail fungi.

Chaparral currant blooms in the autumn and winter.

A look to the south through a break in the trees.

This mushroom has been nibbled on.

On a limb overhead protrudes a huge fungal growth.

There is fungus underfoot as well.

The trail wends through the woods.

This little tube is the home of a turret spider (probably genus Calisoga).  It is related to the tarantula.

Lichen and fern, two typical woodland species.

Looking across the canyon to Edgewood Preserve.

Banana slug!

Another nibbled-on mushroom near the banks of Cordilleras Creek.

This pile of downed logs and branches is festooned with turkey tail and false turkey tail fungi.  They help to break down the decaying wood and release its nutrients back into the environment for new life to utilize.

Late afternoon in the woods near Cordilleras Creek.

There are strict rules about off-leash dogs in this preserve.

Looking up the Polly Geraci Trail.

Poison oak leaves, shades of green, yellow, orange, pink and red.

The canopy overhead.

An autumn leaf on the bridge at Cordilleras Creek.

Cordilleras Creek.

The construction site where the new Hetch-Hetchy drinking water pipeline is being laid in part of the preserve.

Douglas hawthorn berries, glazed with rain.

As we head back, we find part of a deer leg on one of the old sanitarium roads.

This is probably from a mountain lion kill the night before.  The cycle of life goes on.

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November 2019