Saturday, December 5, 2015

Wet Knees

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This morning, for the first time since last year, my knees got wet when I knelt down to make some photographs. Yay!

I also finally saw a good flush of mushrooms on the forest floor.

The ground is finally wet, but the creeks have yet to start flowing.

It finally feels like the season is changing...

...from dry to wet.

Good thing I checked the trail camera. It had been knocked askew and had some little skinny branches in front of it. I sort of suspect a squirrel that showed up a couple of times. Squirrels don't like being spied on. When I put the camera on the ground once, not attached to anything, a squirrel knocked it over, then kicked it again while it was down.

I was poking around on a little-used path that runs roughly parallel to the Simmons Trail, heading for this grove of valley live oaks to see how their moss coats were doing, when I was surprised by a couple of hikers. I'm sure they were as surprised to see me as I was them. 

Not only were we off the beaten path, but it was still earlier than I usually start to notice hikers. But today, several people had beaten me to the gate at opening time (hey, I slept in), a couple of guys were already setting out to hike down the Cataract Trail when I pulled in to Rock Spring at about 7:15, and a pair of trail runners passed me while I was checking the camera trap. 

Here's a kinder, gentler Gomphidius glutinosis. Not really wet enough to be hideous.

I didn't know what these guys were. At first I thought they were honey mushrooms growing out of a buried chunk of wood, but then I realized they were boletes. I used my photo to try key them out in California Mushrooms by Dennis Desjardin, et al., and ended up (with just a modicum of conviction) at Suillus lakei.

More rain in the forecast for the coming week. Let's hope it comes. It's still way too dry up there for December.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015


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Canyon Live Oak

Weevil Hole

As I gathered a pocket full of acorns beneath this oak tree, a couple of hikers walked past, maybe 20 feet away, their eyes intent on the trail, and never saw me. And as I plucked the acorns from the earth I didn't realize how beautiful and unusual looking some of them were until I viewed them through a macro lens. One of the great things about photography is being able to bring attention to a common yet beautiful and interesting object that we would otherwise never notice.

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Good Ole Mt. Tam

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The camera trap hasn't been very busy this last week. I caught a bobcat the first week, a fox the second, and a buck in the third week. That is all. This morning I moved the camera once again to another spot in the same general area, this time along a rarely used trail that has caught both people and coyotes in the past, and where recent raccoon scat can still be found.

This has got to be an old RC Cola can with the red lettering completely faded.

Lichen galaxies.

Haven't seen a bobcat up here in a long time. So I brought my own.

They like it up here.

One of the best bobcat encounters I ever had on Mt. Tam started very near this city-view vantage point, three years ago this week.

Bobcat on Bolinas Ridge, November 18, 2012.

A red-tailed hawk soars above the ridge in an offshore wind.

Once the hawk passed, bird life resumed its busy ways. Here, an acorn woodpecker scores a nut from a canyon live oak (Quercus chrysolepis).

I feel this blog drawing to a close as 2015 winds down. I remain hopeful that we'll get some real rain before year's end. I'd like to close out with some nice mushrooms and waterfalls.

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

North Side

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Hadn't been out around the north side in a long time.

Hoped to see some mushrooms and waterfalls.

But I forgot. You need rain for that stuff.

I felt like I'd seen Alpine Lake lower, but Cataract Gulch was about as dry as I recall ever seeing it. Consolation: the bigleaf maples were looking pretty good.

I was hoping to find another shot of this dry ravine from November in another year to compare with what I found this morning, but I had to settle for a mid-December shot from last year. 

I enjoyed this small fall nevertheless. Too bad we can't tend a small fall like a small flame to make it bigger.

I hate to annoy a red-tail into flight. But I did it anyway. Just by standing there, mind you. It's not like I yelled and waved my arms or anything.

I checked up on the trail camera and caught just one animal all week again, this time a grey fox. I moved the camera to get a different view of what looks like a promising area nearby. I put my schnoz near the rock the bobcat scent-marked (from last week) but didn't smell anything more than mossy rock.

I didn't feel like going home yet. I wanted to do a little more photography first.

So I looked at the ground and found a few interesting leaves.

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Hint of Rain

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I was still in view of the Rock Spring parking lot when a coyote surprised me as I headed down Cataract Trail this morning. She was on the edge of the meadow to my left and quickly turned around to head back into the woods as I passed, looking over her shoulder at me a couple of times before she disappeared.

Checking up on the trail camera, I found (after viewing the images back home) that I'd only captured one animal all week, back on Thursday morning. But the animal was a bobcat, and he scent-marked a spot, so maybe I'll see more of him.

There was a hint of rain, just barely enough to warrant opening the big golf umbrella I use when hiking with camera gear. I wasn't looking for anything in particular to photograph, so I picked a small area I liked the feel of and just poked around looking for inspiration in the patterns and textures of my immediate surroundings.

As I quietly moved through the woods, a half-dozen wild turkeys crossed my trail. There were lots of acorns on the ground, but I couldn't see for sure what the turkeys were pecking at. Mostly they stopped to preen, then one of them chortled a few little companion calls to a pair of turkeys farther down the hill before they all moved on.

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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Still waiting....

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Nice to see some morning clouds in the sky on a day with rain in the forecast.

I set up the trail camera in a new place and hung out in the woods for a spell to get some inspiration.

Still no rain by the time I left, but at least the sunny skies were done.

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