Friday, September 30, 2022

The Sublime

Black-necked Stilt

I wasn't expecting the day to be sublime, which might have made it all the sweeter. I noticed it when I got out of bed yesterday morning and pushed back the curtains to reveal clear air and a fog-free sky. By the time I started rolling out the door around 9:15, the morning had attained perfection. I cut through Golden Gate Park past the green fields of Big Rec and the sparkling landscaping at the Conservatory of Flowers, across the Richmond District and through the Presidio to the Golden Gate Bridge, where a long line of brown pelicans got me off my bike and scrounging for a camera.

The pelicans reached the bridge and surprised me by heading north alongside it instead of flying over it. The squadron eventually broke up, with one group continuing north and another group coming back to fly south. The bike ride over the bridge was sweet and uncrowded, and as I reached the bottom of the Sausalito hill, where the bay comes up to the seawall, the word "sublime" just popped into my head. Then, "Pay attention. Soak it in." I suspect the sublime is always there, even in dismal weather. It's just harder to see.

Even the motorists seemed mellower than usual, and perhaps even too mellow. About half-way up  the winding Shoreline Highway hill I could tell a car was behind me, too timid to pass despite having plenty of room and time to do it. This went on for a while, and I pictured some poor gray-haired old lady from a flat state where there aren't any bicyclists to share the road with. Finally the driver took a chance and went around me, and I was surprised to see it was a couple of young guys in a small cherry-red Ferrari with the top down. A whole slew of cars had backed up behind him, and I was grateful for just enough of a breeze to clear the smog as they all passed me.

The temperature at Rock Spring was a perfect 76 degrees, and I hiked out to the trail camera to swap out the card and batteries. I also moved it back down to the edge of the pool of water, figuring it's not going to rain again anytime soon. A dragonfly dipped her tail-end into the pool, presumably dropping off some eggs, although I didn't see any. A male flew by a little later, just to trip the trail camera and give me some blank frames.

There were some male coyote brush plants along the trail that were teeming with insect life gathering pollen and/or nectar. Just that morning I had read Jake Sigg's e-newsletter which linked to FoundSF: "The insect associates of Baccharis pilularis (coyote bush), a common plant of the dunes and other coastal shrub communities, are legion, supporting no less than 29 species of spiders, 7 mites, and 221 species of insects (of these, 56 are only loosely associated, leaving 165 species as its true associates). Several of these, including several abundant moth species that play a keystone role in the insect economy, are apparently specific to coyote bush."

Although I stepped carefully on approach to a particularly festive coyote brush, watching for rattlesnakes, I jumped back in surprise when a buzzworm saw me first and gave me what for. I could tell it wasn't one of the big daddies by the tone of the rattles, but it still made me jump. It slithered under a boulder for cover, and after I got my fill of photographing insects I peaked over the rock to see if the snake had come back out. The snake had only just emerged and, seeing me, it ducked back under the rock.

Back at Rock Spring I got my bike ready to head home when I decided to try my luck with the acorn woodpeckers nearby. The acorn pantries, recently empty, are filling up. The birds flew away as I crunched noisily through the dry leaves to get near them, but I found a spot in the shade and waited for them to come back. They never did come back, at least not within range, but a blue-tailed skink rustled noisily into view, and I enjoyed watching it prowl around for whatever it could catch and conquer.

Wading Birds Relaxing as the Tide Comes In

Looking Past the Reflection

Coyote Brush Variety Pack #1: Ants Greeting Each Other On Coyote Brush Flowers

Coyote Brush Variety Pack #2

Coyote Brush Variety Pack #3

Coyote Brush Variety Pack #4

Coyote Brush Variety Pack #5

Coyote Brush Variety Pack #6

Coyote Brush Variety Pack #7

Coyote Brush Variety Pack #8

Coyote Brush Variety Pack #9

Coyote Brush Variety Pack #10

Coyote Brush Variety Pack #11

Coyote Brush Variety Pack #12

Rattlesnake Takes A Peek

Acorn Pantry in Standing Snag

Acorn and Bay Nut Collection

Blue-tailed Skink On the Prowl

It looked like the skink was tussling with something, and it sort of looks like a forest scorpion.

A great blue heron hunts along the edge of the drowned pickleweed during a four-foot high tide that came up to the boardwalk along Coyote Creek.

Gas went up $1.10/gal. in a week; glad I can reach Mt. Tam on the ebike!

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