Tags: bobcat

Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve

Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve

On Saturday D. and I visited the newly-opened Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve, and I took some pics.

The view from the parking lot.

California poppies blow about in the breeze.

The hillsides are tinder-dry from the drought.

We head off on the Arrowhead Loop Trail.

Looking back the way we came.

More dried grasses.  Smoking in the preserve is strictly prohibited.  The fire danger is too high.

Farther along the trail.

♪♫♪ The jawbone's connected to the leg bone. ♪♫♪

The trail wends farther back into the hills.

Dried thistles are ready to send their floofy seeds out onto the wind.

The canopy of buckeyes, already gone dormant for the long dry summer.

An edumacational sign talks about the wildlife-human interface.

View from the trail of the Coyote Valley.

On our way back we see a bobcat surveying the scene from the shade of some blue oaks.


Los Trancos Open Space Preserve

Los Trancos Open Space Preserve

On Sunday D. and I went on a docent-led walk in Los Trancos Open Space Preserve. Here are some of the pics I took.

We're here.

These white-tipped posts mark a trace of the San Andreas Fault.  It runs right through the preserve.

A turkey vulture soars high overhead on a thermal.

The peely bark the the madrone causes the trunk to feel remarkably cool to the touch on hot days and to look very photogenic when backlit by the afternoon sun.

The canopy overhead of bay laurel leaves.

This bobcat carcass blends in so well with the leaf litter and forest duff it is almost impossible to see.

Except for its big teeth.

Another canopy pic.

This pile of sticks is the nest of a female woodrat.

Elk clover is not a true clover but a member of the ginseng family.  It loves the moist shade next to Los Trancos Creek.

Another canopy pic.

A feather, possibly from a red-tailed hawk, on the trail.

Los Trancos Creek.

Dried turkey tail fungi next to the creek.

A bigleaf maple seed is stuck in a hole in this leaf.

A gnawed acorn by the creek.

This long-jawed orb-weaver spider has a great location for a web, right next to the creek to catch all the little bugs that show up to take a drink.

A yellowjacket gets a drink from a small pool in the creek.

A tiny fly is thirsty too.

A tuft of lichen floats on a little pool in the creek.

These water striders are mobbing a yellowjacket that landed in their part of the pool.

Water striders live on the surface of ponds and slow-moving areas of streams and rivers.  They eat small living or dead insects on the water surface.  Hairs on the underside of their feet enable them to walk on the water's surface without

The Lost Creek Loop Trail follows Los Trancos Creek for a while.

Thimbleberry leaves lean out into a patch of sun along the trail.

Short-spiked hedge nettle is the third rarest hedge nettle species in the area.  It grows only near seeps or springs.

The western fence lizard has a compound in its blood that kills the pathogen that causes Lyme disease.  Ticks that feed on the lizard cannot pass along the illness.

This rounded chocolate brown acorn might be from a black oak.  It really stands out on the Franciscan Loop Trail otherwise littered with oval or oblong green acorns.

And so we return to our starting place as the afternoon sun washes over the dry grassy hillside.

Obligatory power line shot.

Skyline Ridge Regional Open Space Preserve

Skyline Ridge Regional Open Space Preserve

On Sunday, D. and I went to Skyline Ridge Regional Open Space Preserve to visit Horseshoe Lake and Alpine Pond. I took these pics.

The hills are dried out and the fire danger is high.

At the trailhead, we get instructions.

I have yet to put any of this into practice, to both my relief and my disappointment.

I especially like this part.

That's going to be my new motto.

We set off down the trail toward Horseshoe Lake.

We'll never know what it said. 

We catch our first glimpse of Horseshoe Lake through the trees.

The lake.

On our way to Alpine Pond, we see hillsides dotted with large stands of pink Clarkias.

Tiny blue skunkweed flowers are popping into bloom all over the preserve.

The lichen-encrusted limbs of a dead oak scratch the sky.

The trail winds onward.

Ithuriel's spear.

Bird's-foot lotus grows everywhere; it is an invasive non-native, taking over many of the ecological niches normally occupied by native lupine and deerweed.  But it is also a host for the Acmon Blue butterfly.

The trail winds onward.

A milk thistle blossom has gone poofy with seeds.

Some of the views from the trail as it climbs up toward the ridge.

Lizard luncheonette.

Looking east again, across San Francisco Bay toward hazy Mt. Diablo barely visible on the horizon.

On the way to Alpine Pond, the trail plunges into mixed oak woodland.  The shade is quite welcome on the hot day.

A view west into a closed area of the preserve.

Around a bend in the trail, we see a water tank.

Finally we reach Alpine Pond.

I could watch the water sparkle and shimmer all day long.

The little island looks like it is built on a platform of lumber. 

I wonder if it floats around on the pond. 

On the pond's east shore, we are pleased to find the preserve's nature center open.  Inside, a sign on the wall is welcoming.

That large skull is a bear; probably grizzly.  The one next to it is a raptor; hawk, I'm guessing.

The only live animal they have inside is a garter snake.  Everything else is skulls, skeletons, skins or stuffed (in other words, dead).

There is a lot of other cool stuff inside.  First, dragonfly moltings.

Tiny tarantula moltings.

Stone mortar and pestle used by native Ohlone Indians.

Overhead are cool edumacational mobiles about pond life, above and below the water.

Stuffed creatures include a barn owl, coyote, raccoon, bobcat and quail.

Another skeleton, a garter snake.

Tarantula under glass.

Leaves of three, let them be -- sometimes.  Learn which is no-no-no, which is ok and which is good at the nature center.

The late afternoon sun washes over the hills as we make our way back.


PAWS - Performing Animal Welfare Society

PAWS - Performing Animal Welfare Society

Last Saturday D. and I went to the open house at the Performing Animal Welfare Society in Galt. Ever since I first heard about this organization I've wanted to visit, but I never knew they held open houses until recently, so in spite of the dauntingly long drive there I was excited to go.

PAWS began by rescuing exploited and mistreated animals in the entertainment industry, but now they have more animals rescued from backyard breeders and drug dealers. There is a huge black market for exotic animals, and it is heartbreaking how mistreated they are -- botched declawing procedures, malnourishment and starvation, grossly unsanitary conditions, inbreeding, etc. It made my blood boil to hear of the horrible conditions from which most of these creatures were rescued. At least they can now live their lives in peace and safety, well cared for by staff and volunteers who put the animals' health and well-being above all else.

To be honest, it was a little disappointing to see the actual facility, because the animals were all inside chain-link fencing. It didn't make for the most stunning photographs, but I took a few anyway. It was obvious that the place was designed to house the animals comfortably, not to showcase them in a fancy way. After thinking about it, I feel it's best that way, not to exploit the animals any further by putting them on display in flashy (i.e., expensive) "habitats." They're not performers; they don't have their worth linked to their entertainment appeal. They are left in peace to just be themselves, even if that means sleeping all day long. More power to them!

Here's a few pics I took (most weren't all that great due to the chain-link fencing everywhere).

One of a pair of stone lions guarding the entrance to the sanctuary's office.

Real ones awaited us inside. 

Here's a cheetah statue, almost engulfed by greenery in the overgrown garden outside the office.

Here's Roy.  He's cross-eyed from inbreeding.  He's pretty friendly.  He winked at me (I winked back).

Here's Sheba, trying to beat the 90º heat.

My cat does the same thing on hot days.

There were other animals there -- bears, more tigers and lions, a leopard, a mountain lion, a macaque, a bunch of capuchins, a couple of bobcats, and a housecat that just decided to hang around the place. PAWS has a separate sanctuary elsewhere for their elephants and over 30 tigers. I doubt we'll make the long trip to that facility, but I'm sure the animals are as well cared-for there as there are here.


Sunol Regional Wilderness: Eagle's View

Sunol Regional Wilderness: Eagle's View

Last weekend D. and I returned to our new favorite place, Sunol Regional Wilderness Area. This time we walked around in the northern part of the park, starting on the Eagle's View Trail. Little did we know we would see an actual eagle later on.

First up, my pics, then D.'s.

As we head up Eagle's View Trail, the hillside across Welch Creek Rd. comes into view.

As we round the bend, a fabulous view greets us.  It is an almost fairy tale-like scene (except for the dark layer of smog in the atmosphere).


Another bend in the trail brings Maguire Peaks into view.

Approaching the junction of the Vista Grande Road trail, with Mission Peak in the background.

It's not a block of ice -- it's a salt lick, which appears to have been much enjoyed by the range cattle that have grazing rights in the park.

The trail descends into a ravine to follow Indian Joe Creek for a ways.

Shade-loving plants, including bittercress and ferns, flourish along the creekbank.

The trail breaks away from the creek to cross a large meadow called Valley of the Giants.  It is tenanted by several enormous valley oaks.

We pass by the barn at High Valley Camp, on the High Valley Road trail.

Cattle grazing in High Valley.

Oak trees make stark silhouettes against a hazy late afternoon sky.

Rising up from High Valley, we turn onto the Vista Grande Road trail to head back to the car, and what do we behold but a golden eagle!

The oaks are awash in late afternoon's hazy golden light.

❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧

And here are D.'s pics.

Here's where we began, at the north end of the Eagle's View trail.

As we round the bend, a fabulous view greets us.

Looking down into High Valley.

Indian Joe Creek.

In the Valley of the Giants.

Another view of High Valley before descending to the Cave Rock Road trail.

On the Cave Rock Road trail, a bobcat checks out the mid-afternoon scene.

A couple of old bathtubs serve as livestock troughs on the Indian Joe Creek Trail, near Cave Rocks.

Cattle grazing in High Valley.

A strange log in High Valley, misshapen by masses of warty knobules.

From the Eagle's View Trail, this strange 3-rayed structure is visible below us in High Valley.

Once we get to that section of the park and get a close look, we see it's part of a lizard observation project.  Although we don't understand why it has to be 3-rayed -- the lizards can just run around the boards to the other side anyway. 

A ground squirrel peeks at us from a burrow entrance by a fallen log.  High Valley was literally crawling with these critters.

The golden eagle in flight.

Vista Grande.

Picturesque oak.

Maguire Peaks are barely visible as evening haze thickens before sundown.