Spring Has Most Definitely Sprung

BeePoppy1_lNow that it’s official, we can definitely say that spring has arrived. But you would have to have been living in a cave to think that spring in Sonoma only arrived a few days ago. Call it climate change or just yearly fluctuations, but we seem to be experiencing some early arrivals of bud break, wildflowers, and other indications that Winter is over.

The Blue Dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum) have been going crazy, as have the glorious California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica, pictured), as well as a plethora of other beautiful blooms. There seem to be more with each passing day. The insects are also out in vast numbers, as this bumblebee illustrates. Note the large packets of pollen on either side. This bee has visited a number of flowers already to amass such wealth, which of course pollinates the flowers the bee visits any carries on the magic of spring.

To help identify what you see along the trails, don’t miss our Flora page on this site. Although there are not a lot of flowers identified there yet, we will be working to include as many of the flowers and other plants that you see on your hikes as we can. Also, don’t miss our Gallery of Trail Flowers. If you have pictures of your own you wish to add, just let us know!

A View of 1887 Sonoma from the Montini Preserve

montinihistoricThe Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley has incredible historic collections, which began when the university acquired Hubert Howe Bancroft’s personal library in 1905. By that time Bancroft had amassed quite a personal collection, including personal documents from General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, whose Sonoma home sits right next to the Montini Open Space Preserve.

So I can’t say I was all that surprised when I came across this photograph that appears to be a view of the town of Sonoma in 1887, taken from the hills above which is now the Montini Open Space. Carleton E. Watkins had been hired to take photographs for the Sonoma Valley Improvement Company as a promotional tool.

I cleaned it up a bit, including taking away the brownish cast that comes from film aging. However, feel free to look at the original digital version at UC’s digital portal, Calisphere.org.

Needless to say, Sonoma has changed quite a bit in the last 128 years. I suppose you could say that the Sonoma Valley Improvement Company was perhaps more successful than they could even imagine being at the time.

Be Careful Out There!

rattle2Wildflowers are not the only thing that are in season this March; rattlesnakes are also now coming out of hibernation. I ran into this fat and sassy specimen (pictured) last week on the Montini Preserve, right on the trail.

I was heading East on the Holstein Hill Trail, and right after passing through the meadow above the water tanks, the trail enters into the trees again and quickly angles to the left. It was at that angle where this angry snake was sitting and ready to strike.

Of course sightings like this are rare, particularly if you stick to the trail. I count myself lucky if I see one or two rattlers in an entire year, and I’m on the trails almost every day.

Also, they don’t want to mess with you and more than you want to mess with them. So if you encounter a rattler, just back off and let the snake slither off the trail before proceeding. Or go back the way you came, which is what I did that day since I was “rattled” (sorry!) after my encounter with a snake so large and ready to strike.

What really scared me was that I had just been thinking about breaking into a jog around that time, as that is a fairly flat stretch of trail, and if I might have been on the snake before it could warn me. So runners need to pay particular attention to the trail ahead!

Should the worst have happened, I would have been better prepared if I had read the information that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has on both avoiding snake bites and what to do if the worst happens. Big thanks to my fellow Steward Lisa Summers for the link.

Stay safe out there!

Wildflower season is upon us

purple wildflower

Blue dick (Dichelostemma capitatum) – photo courtesy of Carol Cree

Wildflower lovers can join any one of the following upcoming walks in Sonoma County – or do them all!

Landpaths’ Bohemia Ecological Preserve – March 15 10am-12pm

Sonoma Valley Regional Park – March 21 10am-12pm

Bouverie Preserve – March 28 9:30 a.m. – 2p.m. (Please rsvp@egret.org)

Pepperwood Preserve – March 28 10am-12pm

Van Hoosear Wildflower Walks with the Sonoma Ecology Center

Saturday, March 28 (rain date 4/18) 10am-12pm
Wednesday, April 1 (rain date 4/2) 10am-12pm
Saturday, April 4 (rain date 4/15) 10am-12pm
Wednesday, April 8 (rain date 4/10) 10am-12pm
Saturday, April 11 (rain date 4/12) 10am-1pm (3 hours)
Wednesday, April 22 (rain date 4/23) 10am-1pm (3 hours)

*Online registration required: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1224616