Anyone reading this blog is likely aware of the wildfires that broke out over a week ago and are still burning parts of Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino counties. Our hearts go out to all of those affected — many substantially. Also, all of the first responders, from both near and far, have our everlasting gratitude for what they’ve done to save our communities.
One thing they did was to bulldoze firebreaks in the hills, to set up lines that could be defended and stop the fire in the hills before it came down to burn our neighborhoods and towns.
Today I went out on the Montini Preserve and the Sonoma Overlook Trail to see how they had fared. Neither property had been touched by fire. But firebreaks were carved on both properties, with the Montini Preserve not nearly as impacted. The firebreak on the Montini essentially followed the existing dirt road up the hill, and thus only crossed one trail. That is likely easily fixed with some shovel work.
The Overlook did not escape damage so easily. Bulldozers crossed the trails probably 15-20 times, and in places left substantial damage. Several spots will need to be completely rebuilt (see picture of a portion of Rattlesnake Cutoff).
Because of this, we are closing the Overlook until we can get the trails repaired, and in the meantime we are directing hikers to the Montini Preserve. Please bear with us as we work to recover the trails so many of us love.
The California Quail is the State Bird, and can often be sighted in natural areas of much of the state. In the Overlook and Montini properties, the largest brood can be found right along Fourth Street, at the entrance to the Montini property, in the blackberry bushes along the fence. That is where I grabbed this picture the other day. You can frequently see a rather large flock flittering around that spot. For whatever reason, they seem to be sighted more rarely in the heart of the Overlook and Montini properties. Perhaps their location close-in to civilization protects them from predators. But since they prefer dense shrubbery for cover, it’s hard to find anything denser in the area than those blackberry bushes.
In any case, I always enjoy seeing them, as they are so cute and colorful. Their top-knot is, frankly, hilarious and yet somehow suitable. If you want to try to figure out the gender, males tend to have longer topknots than females. The males are always trying to impress with length. Go figure.
To identify them by their calls, you may want to check out their variety of vocalizations.
They seem to share with wild turkeys the propensity to walk unless forced to fly. I find that endearing for some reason.
Keep your eyes peeled for the quail, particularly when you enter the trail system at the Fourth Street trailhead. I’m fairly certain you will spot them.
DIA DE LOS MUERTOS—DAY OF THE DEAD
WALK SONOMA HISTORY THROUGH SONOMA MOUNTAIN CEMETERY
Saturday November 4
Two Opportunities: 9:30 am OR 1:00 pm
The Sonoma Overlook Trail Stewards invite you to take a lively, informative walk through our historic cemetery with amateur historian Fred Allebach.
Meet cowboys and Indians, ranchers and real estate tycoons, farmers and farriers, carpenters and stone masons, quarrymen, grocers, butchers, bakers, maybe a candlestick maker, and many more!
This fundraising event is limited to 20 participants. Your $35 donation includes the walking tour and small bites. . . complete with googly eyes.
All proceeds go to the Sonoma Overlook Trail Maintenance and Education programs. The Trail is solely supported by private donations. To reserve your spot, email Hope Nisson firstname.lastname@example.org. Indicate time preference.