Archivos de diario de abril 2024

11 de abril de 2024

Spring 2024 Wildflowers -- What's going on??

Today I was hiking in Annadel State Park with two friends. We met two acquaintances who asked about the wildflowers this season: what's going on? After such a wild and wet winter we often expect to see "super blooms."

My casual observations right now suggest several things are happening. I will be the first to say that around Sonoma County we don't really have "super blooms" in the sense of what media coverage often exclaims about (those huge solid-color meadows crowded by lookie-loos stomping the flowers to get the best selfies). Here we typically have large patches of flowers, and when you get down to it -- literally -- they are more of a bouquet of wildflowers than one single species. I digress.

Right now, second week of April 2024, it appears that some of the typical wildflowers are rather late getting going, perhaps because it's been dark and gloomy and wet. Others appear to be choked-out by the lush annual grasses growing fast and tall. Another observation is that following the catastrophic 2017-2019-2020 wildfires we saw an abundance of fire followers. Now several years out, there is more tree canopy shading some of those species that enjoyed more sunlight, some true fire-followers have recessed till the next fire, the nutrients from ash and fire debris has diluted the farther we get from the actual event, and we need to adjust our expectations. We won't be seeing the Whispering Bells like we did immediately following the fires. Some bulb species (Fremont's Star Lily, Checker Lily, Golden Fairy Lanterns) might not be getting as much sunlight as the first two years following the fires, and now being more shaded again are quietly retreating.

However I do notice some wildflower species seem to be having a "mast" year (that's what we call it when referring to tree species, what do we call it with wildflower?). Today we noticed huge patches of Western Blue-eyed Grass -- massive masses of them, huge expansive single plants reaching many feet in diameter and just covered with blossoms and buds. California Goldfields are blanketing meadow areas we don't remember in years past, while in some meadow areas they are already dried out and done blooming (remember a couple of weeks ago we had warm dry wind).

Something I hear people say is "where is the big/super bloom?" Well, for one thing, stop talking, pause and look down! How many different flowers do you see? There is a complete rainbow bouquet if you just stop and look. Don't be constricted by looking for a huge field of orange poppies. Engage the child within and look at all the little flowers -- use binoculars if you can't physically get down to the ground. Start noticing all the shapes and colors and types. I counted 53 species on a hike today, and that isn't all that is blooming in Annadel right now! That was only a small portion of the 5,500 acre park.

You know what is super cool about Sonoma County? We have such a diversity of habitats and soil conditions that every park and trail offers a different mosaic of vegetation and flower species. Some flowers have evolved with a certain soil type over millions of years, and you will only see those flowers in those places (serpentine is a perfect example -- Hood Mountain, Sugarloaf, Lake Sonoma, The Cedars if you get the chance).

So, go out and explore different places to see different flowers. Don't forget the coast! Kortum Trail is always a good bet and another example of a specific habitat -- salty, cool, moist, coastal prairie. And remember that whatever the weather patterns give us between now and then, there is always next Spring to look forward to -- what is blooming where and when?

Publicado el abril 11, 2024 01:25 MAÑANA por wildmare64 wildmare64 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Project Creator's Intent

Welcome to my project! I hope you enjoy Annadel as much as I do. I call it my "default" park. With the plethora of parklands available to us in Sonoma County, I often default to hike in Annadel. In all seasons. In all weather (except high wind events). On any trail.

I love the rich diversity that is this park. The living things, the geology and geography, the history ... makes it more deeply ingrained in my soul. Despite spending thousands of hours and miles here, I learn new things constantly.

When I was an active volunteer then employee here, then Supervising Ranger Neill Fogarty often teased that I know every rock and leaf in the park. I can't say that I do, but I have an intimate familiarity and memory of events and seasons here. I have thousands and thousands of photos to document my experiences -- many are in this project but equally many are not the thing for iNat -- photos of me and my horse and my riding friends and volunteer trail crews.

The very scent of Annadel is specific to me. It is a blend of the geology and the forest -- bay, redwood, fir -- and the soil. It is different from the other areas of Sonoma Mountains, of which Annadel is a part. Jack London has a different scent. Taylor Mountain has a different scent.

Annadel is situated on the northwestern shoulder of the expanse of Sonoma Mountains. The range launches itself out of the San Francisco Bay at Sear's Point, beginning as Cougar Mountain. She flows northward through Tolay Lake Regional Park, and up-up-up into the reaches of what we commonly refer to as Sonoma Mountain. Taylor Mountain, Bennett Peak and Annadel State Park are all part of this range. Where the Summit is, the mountain actually splits into the North Slope and East Slope. The East Slope provides views down into the southern portions of Sonoma Valley and across to the Mt Veeder skyline. From the North Slope are views north to Snow Mountain, Cow Mountain, Geyser Peak, Mt St Helena; northwest to the serpentine cliffs of Lake Sonoma; west to our tallest peak Pole Mountain with perhaps a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean through the gaps in the coastal hills; down over the Santa Rosa Plain.

Annadel provides a vital place for critters, a portion of an important wildlife corridor stretching from Point Reyes to Lake County. Here is where multiple mountain lions exist, fluidly moving in and out of Annadel throughout the seasons as they hunt, dine, socialize, find mates, and have kittens. Even having spent as many hours in this park as I have, observing animal tracks and scat, I have only ever seen one good pug mark (footprint) and a few fresh scat of mountain lion. I have yet to observe a lion myself, though while riding my Mustang I have observed his "mountain lion alert" to fresh scent of one (perhaps having crossed this trail last night). I have twice met cyclists -- eyes wide and excited -- having just seen a lion mid-day in busy areas of the park -- one was laying in the shade flicking flies, the other was sauntering along Canyon Trail. A trailrunner I knew saw one just sitting along Spring Creek Trail one morning, watching the world go by.

I love this park. I love sharing my passion of this place. I enjoy taking photos and making observations. It has been interesting to watch the progression of species over the 4 decades I have frequented the park, and especially following the wildfires here. I have seen the changes wrought by trail realignment in 1998, of the establishment of over 100 miles of social/illegal/desire trails especially since about 2006. I have observed the changes of visitation as more and more people "find" Annadel. Indeed, she has become a destination park for visitors from all over the world. As late as December 2020, I was completing the monthly Attendance Record for the park as a Park Aide. I observed upwards of 10,000 visitors per month -- some of my calculations were based on personal observation of 25 different access points into the park, including the 3 "shifts" of cars parked at the Cobblestone Trailhead most days (early morning, mid-day, late afternoon/evenings).

This park is seriously loved by our community. All types of users. It is beloved. I never tire of visiting, observing, experiencing, enjoying.

Check back for more journal posts. I plan to provide some factual history for anyone interested. To help you have a more intense sense of place. If you would like to help steward the park, pick up any litter you see, smile and greet others you meet, consider getting on the contact list of Redwood Trails Alliance for upcoming volunteer work days -- anyone can lend a hand no matter what your ability level or experience.

Ask me anything.

Publicado el abril 11, 2024 09:22 TARDE por wildmare64 wildmare64 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario