Sunday, March 21, 2010

Treks on the Santa Rosa Plateau: Vernal Pool & Trans Preserve Trail

A beautiful day for the first day of Spring here on the Plateau. Mid 70's and only mildly breezy. Gil and I headed out to the reserve around 10:30am this morning and found the parking lot at the vernal pool trailhead pretty much packed, so we ended up parking roadside.

3/20/10 Dewey spider web, Vernal Pool Trail.

3/20/10 Tiger Moth caterpillar, Vernal Pool Trail.

I think the wildflowers are blooming a bit late this season as there are not yet the carpets of color we were expecting to see. But, there were some  pockets of California Poppies, Wild Hyacinths, Ground Pinks, Red Maids and Western Buttercups along the Vernal Pool Trail.

3/20/10 California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), Vernal Pool Trail.

3/20/10 Wild Hyacinth (Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum), Trans Preserve Trail.

3/20/10 Ground Pink (Linanthus dianthiflorus), Vernal Pool Trail.

The boardwalk over the large vernal pool is now partially open. The water has finally subsided a bit after our heavy winter rains, and there was a ranger on site providing a lot of very interesting info on the geology, flora and fauna of the area. The teensy fairy shrimp were still visible in the water, along with tadpoles, a small population of Two-Striped Garter Snakes, assorted waterfowl, and who knows what else... 

3/20/10 Black Necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus), along edge of main vernal pool. 

3/20/10 Northern Shovelers (Anas clypeata), main vernal pool. 

3/20/10 Two-Striped Garter Snake (Thamnophis hammondii), main vernal pool.

3/20/10 Hikers converging on the boardwalk at the main vernal pool.

3/20/10 Main vernal pool.

3/20/10 Main vernal pool.

We did our usual detour to the Trans Preserve Trail after checking out the main vernal pool and found the views to be as fantabulous as they always are. Besides the Chocolate Lilies, there was also Miner's Lettuce, Western Buttercup, Johnny Jump-Up, Common Lomatium, and Hairy Fringe-Pod blooming along this trail. The Poison Oak was also lookin' pretty lush. Not something you want to accidentally trip and fall into...

3/20/10 View from Trans Preserve Trail.

3/20/10 Trans Preserve Trail.

3/20/10 Chocolate Lily (Fritillaria biflora), Trans Preserve Trail.

3/20/10 Chocolate Lilies (Fritillaria biflora), Trans Preserve Trail.

3/20/10 Hairy Fringe-Pod (Thysanocarpus curvipes), Trans Preserve Trail.

3/20/10 Padre's Shooting Star (Dodecatheon clevelandii ssp. clevelandii), Trans Preserve Trail.

As we made our way back from the Trans Preserve Trail, Gil, who was slightly ahead of me, spotted a rattlesnake and got really excited. Probably not the best thing to do around a venomous snake. But anyhoo, all ended well, as the snake remained calm despite the human spectators. There are three species of rattlesnakes that inhabit the reserve: Southern Pacific, Speckled, and Red-Diamond Backed. 

3/20/10 This one looks like a Southern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus helleri), Trans Preserve Trail.


  1. Oh this is just wonderful - I would loved to have been with you. I know so little about wild flowers but wanting to learn about them - I never would have figured out that the blue flower was a wild hyacinth - it looks more like a cornflower to me - and the intensity of the blue colouring is fab. And just look at those little chocolate lillies - do they have a scent of chocolate? My favourite has to be those hairy fringe pods. They look so swee and feminine. Like little earings.

    Those snakes are giving me shivers down my spine - they sure are not creatures I would like to meet on the trail.

  2. Rosie, I'm not sure if the Chocolate Lilies have a scent, but their coloring is certainly reminiscent of a really sublime chocolate ganache! I also love the hairy fringe pods - they are so easily overlooked due to their small stature and grasslike appearance. As for the rattlesnake, thank goodness it was calm, we were calm, and I managed to eke out a picture before it went on its merry way!

  3. Wildflower and wild snakes! Two things I love. Hello from Northern California, by way of blotanical.

  4. Hi Lisa and Robb, thanks for visiting!