Signs of Spring

Spring is definitely in full swing. Wildflowers such as lupine and California poppies are in profusion, as are the butterflies that frequent the also prevalent Blue dicks (like the Swallowtail pictured).

The trail is mostly no longer muddy (until the next rain, at least), so now is a great time to get out and enjoy the warmth and the wildlife. Just keep your eyes peeled for rattlesnakes, as they have already been sighted on the trail. Other wildlife to look for include squirrels, deer, lizards, and wide variety of birds, from Red-Tailed Hawks to Red-Shafted Flickers to Great Horned Owls (all of which have been sighted from the trails).

Another sign of spring is, well, a sign. We just replaced the sign at the top of the trail that describes a little of the history of the area and names some of the surrounding sights viewable from the upper meadow. On the Overlook Trail, costs such as these are borne by the volunteer Stewards of the Overlook Trail group, which
collaborates with the Sonoma Ecology Center that serves as our fiscal agent. But anything that costs money to maintain or upgrade the trail and property requires us to raise money through events, donations, etc. If you feel so moved, please click on our “Donate Now!” link in the righthand column. Or, come to our next event at the Sonoma Raceway.

In any case, enjoy all of the sights of spring and stay safe out there!

Flowers Everywhere

P1000924If you like flowers, then now is the time to hike the Overlook and Montini trails, as they are going nuts. From California poppies, to Lupine, to you name it, they are out in great profusion. The picture to the right was taken just a few days ago on the Overlook Trail, where you can see both Lupine and Poppies hanging over the trail.

There are many other flower varieties out at this time, and others on their way. Spring is in full flower, and it is awesome.

However, keep in mind that other plants are going crazy right now, and among them is poison oak. Although we recently cut it back, it is still growing and we will likely need to cut it back again soon. Also, since the grass is growing like mad and often over-hanging the trail, keep an eye out for ticks. They like to climb up onto the tips of grasses where wildlife (and we count) are walking by so they can hitch a ride.

For tips on what to do if you are bitten, see this earlier post where I describe my own experience.

But by and large, it’s all good out there on the trail, and experiencing our wildflower bloom is well worth any slight risks.

So the Summer Ends as it Began…

lateseasonflowers…with flowers.

I was rather astonished, after a very long and dry summer, to see a flower blooming alongside the Sonoma Overlook Trail. Really, I thought? After seeing the meadow grass blasted completely past brown into a stark grey in the long summer drought, I couldn’t imagine what would possess a flower to bloom. But there it was.

With bright orange-red blooms, it stood out in stark contrast to its brown and grey surroundings. What were the conditions that could enable this to happen at this point in the year, I wondered? How could it survive, let alone make such a flagrant display? I’m not sure that I will ever know, but I was thankful, and I gladly climbed the short way up the hill from the trail to document its courageous and unexpected existence.

Later that day, rain began to fall. Actual, serious, rain. Welcome rain. But the flower existed before the moisture. It had made its play for existence and attention when there was nothing left upon which to draw. When the soil had been sucked dry. When all of the other flowers had long since gone down to dust and desiccation. When clearly, all hope should have been lost.

But it wasn’t. And seeing this, and understanding its message, I took heart once again.

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