2011-10-26

Local trails and busy but not forgotten

I'm busy doing some things other than blogging.  One of the fun things I'm doing is familiarizing myself with local trails.   It turns out there are plenty of obscure and undocumented ones, such as the "Mailbox Trail" which quickly devolves into a single track along the edge of George F Canyon.

 George F turns into another canyon system further along, and the trails are wide and well maintained in this area (for horses).


That's Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) on the left with the red berries and Lemonade Berry (Rhus integrifolia) looming over the right hand branch of the trail.  They're easy to tell apart this time of year with the red berries only on Toyon, which is also known as Christmas Berry.  When they are not in bloom, I think the easiest way to tell them apart is by the leaf edges:  Serrations on the Toyon, smooth or wavy on Lemonade Berry. This seems to be locally true, anyway.

I have been assured that all trails are public access, yet already I've run into what appear to be bogus trail closings promulgated by local homeowner groups (thinks to self, "Hmm.  I don't see the advertised trail hazard that motivated trail closure with not one but two chain link fences across the trail.  Curious - these fences seem designed to cut off down-trail access into a gated community that is advertised as open at the public-access trailhead.  Wow, even the horsemen passing within eyeshot of the trail closure don't seem to think there's a hazard.")

I sense some advocacy in my future. Until then, I'm just a quiet trails anthropologist and I'll keep a photo record documenting trail conditions without trying to perturb the system. 

I'll be back in a bit to tell you more about native plants - I have tremendous plans for my new yard.  Until then, I'm a bit busy.  See you on the trails.

2011-10-14

Charlotte to Charlie to Charles to Chuck

There were several if these large spiders around the house a couple weeks ago. They were at my old house too until they mysteriously disappeared - I think the neighbor sprayed.

This one started as a relatively petite Charlotte and ended as thuggish Chuck over a couple week period of time.

The camera angle makes it appear that there's a large blurry spider on my lawn, but it's really just 50 cent piece sized spider in the foreground of the shot.




- Posted at great expense from my iPhone

2011-10-05

First rains of the winter

I'm happy that we're getting some rain.  Often it will rain in October and then be dry again until much later in the year, so an early start on the winter rains isn't necessarily a harbinger of a wet winter.  Traffic was typically slow yesterday morning and this morning due to our first rain of the year:  We had a small amount of rain yesterday A.M. and more today that appears to be making more of a lasting impression.

My new house is in a rain "shadow" on the east side of a coastal hill.  As I drive around the hill on which I live each morning, I've noticed that my east facing, leeward, side of the hill seems to consistently have less moisture than the ocean side.  This seems an intuitive result for storms arriving from the ocean and it's also true for fog, which can be a significant contributor to soil moisture.

Sadly, my rain gauge is not out in the yard yet so I'll have to make an educated guess on the precipitation from this storm.  I would have liked to start the winter with some solid measurements.

Addendum: I found an old dog bowl in the yard with 3.1 cm of water in it, so I'm going with rainfall of 1.22".  That's a lot!

2011-10-01