Sunday, February 21, 2010

Photo Shoot at the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve

Ok, it wasn't really a photo shoot, but I was fulfilling an assignment, due next Saturday, for Dick Cronberg's level 2 photography class, which was to submit a photo of any subject taken on the Reserve, as long as Homo sapiens is in absentia from the scene.

We're only about a 15 minute drive from the vernal pools, so Gilbert and I got there at a reasonably early hour, around 9:30am. Weather was cool, breezy, partly cloudy, with a few sprinkles thrown in.

We were suited up, geared up, and ready to go, and then I took my first photo at the information kiosk at the trailhead. Hmmm...what was that flashing on the back panel of my camera? NO! GET OUT! NO WAY! No CF card???????

How could I forget the CF card? Well, apparently I did. When I was downloading pictures last night to post on this blog, I left the card in the reader without putting it back in the camera. Stupid, stupid me. Anyways, on to Plan B. Gilbert suggested we head down to Ralph's Supermarket in Murrieta to pick up some groceries and then stop by CVS pharmacy next door to see if they carried photo supplies/accessories. So, that we did, and yes, CVS did indeed have a 4GB card that fit my camera.

By 10:30am, we were back at the vernal pools and ready for action.

2/21/10 Vernal Pool Trail.

2/21/10 View from Vernal Pool Trail.

Dogs are not allowed in this 8,000 acre reserve, except on the equestrian trails in the Sylvan Meadows area. I respect that. We love Hana and want to take her everywhere, but dogs and the sensitive habitats of the vernal pools just don't mix. So we had sensibly left her at home, with the soothing background white noise of Food Network on the telly.

So, here's the side story. As we were hiking up the Vernal Pool Trail, we heard some rustling behind us and I was stunned to see a boisterous family of 7 or 8, walking their German Shepherd through the grass just off trail. There's a sign at the trailhead that clearly says, no dogs allowed on the trails, so what was up with these people? Normally, I would say something, but I felt stupefied and awkwardly outnumbered by a coterie of folks who didn't seem too keen on following the rules. The kicker was, we overheard the "father" tell one of his daughters to make sure she walked the dog off the trail in the grassy area (on the native bunchgrass that us people are barred from traversing), so as not to transgress the rule that says "dogs not allowed on trails." Wow. The logic just defies imagination. I hope they crossed paths with a ranger on their way back.

2/21/10 Sign reads "Boardwalk Closed." The boardwalk over the main vernal pool appears to be partially submerged, but hopefully not damaged, from the recent heavy rains.

2/21/10 Boardwalk over main vernal pool.

2/21/10 Main vernal pool.

2/21/10 Main vernal pool.

The photo I needed to take for next week's class is actually part of an amateur contest for the 8 of us who are enrolled in Dick's photography course at the reserve. Feeling the pressure of a newbie, I took about 70 shots today, not knowing if any of them would be worth a submission. 

2/21/10 Verdant grasses emerging from last year's remnants. Vernal Pool Trail.

2/21/10 View from Trans Preserve Trail.

2/21/10 Vernal Pool Trail.

Not much in bloom yet on the reserve, but a few stalwart late-winter staples are making their appearance.

2/21/10 White Chaparral Currant (Ribes indecorum). Trans Preserve Trail.

2/21/10 Wild Cucumber (Marah macrocarpus var. macrocarpus) trailing over lichen-encrusted rock. Trans Preserve Trail.

2/21/10 Miner's Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) growing in shaded oak woodland. Yes, it's edible, just like lettuce. So if you're ever planning to get lost in these woods, just make sure you remember to pack the balsamic & extra virgin olive oil. 

2/21/10 Common Bedstraw (Galium aparine). Another sweet-tasting native that's chock full of Vitamin C. Trans Preserve Trail.

2/21/10 Soap Plant (Chlorogalum pomeridianum var. pomeridianum), not yet in flower. I've also found this wavy-leaved lily in abundance at the Tenaja Trail trailhead and along Tenaja Truck Trail (Forest Route 7501) in the Cleveland National Forest. Was used by Native Americans for food, lather, and cleansing. Also purported to treat Poison Oak rashes.

2/21/10 Padre's Shooting Star (Dodecatheon clevelandii), budded and ready to bloom. I have one sole specimen of this species growing in my garden (see my previous blog entries for the low down). 

Based on my brief survey of all the sproutlings and early bloomers, here's a partial lineup for the upcoming wildflower show this spring on the reserve:

Western Buttercup (Ranunculus occidentalis)
Johnny Jump-Up (Viola pedunculata)
Wild Cucumber (Marah macrocarpus var. macrocarpus)
White Chaparral Currant (Ribes indecorum)
Checkerbloom (Sidalcea malviflora ssp. sparsilfora)
Soap Plant (Chlorogalum pomeridianum var. pomeridianum)
Miner's Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)
Common Bedstraw (Galium aparine)
Cleveland's/Padre's Shooting Star (Dodecatheon clevelandii)
California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
Ground Pink (Linanthus dianthiflorus)
Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium bellum)
Chocolate Lily (Fritillaria biflora)
Red Maids (Calandrinia ciliata)
Goldfields (Lasthenia californica)

2/21/10 Rock art (Lichen on rock), Trans Preserve Trail.

2/21/10 More rock art (Lichen on rock), Vernal Pool Trail.


  1. What a great journey you went on. Your photos of the grass, the lichen and the Miner's lettuce are my favorites :^) I'm sure you will be star of your class...

  2. Noelle, of all the photos I took that day, my favorite one is also that of the grass, followed next by the lichen shots. Imagine that! My husband also liked the grass photo the best. So that's the one I'm going to submit for my photo class this coming weekend. Not a conventional subject, but I'm going with my gut on this one.

  3. Hi Again,

    You left a comment on my blog about the bouquet I put together from plants in my garden and mentioned wanting a source for the seeds of red colored globe mallow, like I had pictured. Well, I have lots of seeds. If you like, just send me your address and I will send some out in the mail. You can email me your address using my email link on my blog page

  4. Stumbled across your site while googling for an update on the vernal pools at Santa Rosa Plateau. Love your photos and your blog! I live in the hills just south of Temecula and I love this time of year - the native plants are so happy with all this rain! I particularly like your Rock Art photos. I'm lucky enough to have such rocks in my yard...I never thought of them as "rock art" before, but it really looks that way when you take those photos close up. --Cathy

  5. Hi Cathy,
    I think our abundant rainfall this season has caused the lichen to grow like loco on these rock surfaces. They are quite beautiful on close inspection, like multi-hued paint splatters on a normally nondescript canvas. By all predictions, this will be a spectacular wildflower season on the Santa Rosa Plateau, with peak blooms expected in early April. I hope you'll have a chance to visit the reserve during this really wonderful time of year.