April 21, 2020

Early April in Jepson Prairie Preserve

On my drive back to Davis to shelter in place, I made a quick detour to stop by Jepson and survey what's blooming! They've closed the preserve to the public at this point, but I'm glad I got this walk in first.

The uplands are almost in full bloom -- there's still some yarrow that is budding and lots of different grass species. The vetch, although invasive, is coloring the mima mounds bright purple along with the clusters of blue dicks. For the first time, I got to see the blow-wives actually blooming; I missed the window last year!

I started on the northern end of the docent triangle and headed southwest on the path toward the edge of where Olcott Lake should be. It has been exceptionally dry this year, so the "lake" is actually just a few puddles. The flowers don't seem to mind, since they're in full bloom! You can see the goldfields from a mile away and walking through a completely yellow field was amazing.

Amid the goldfields, I also found some brodiaeas, some of my favorites since I discovered them when I first visited the prairie last year. I also found several different species of clovers, popcorn flowers, and milkvetch (both Alkali Milkvetch and Gambel's Milkvetch).

It was an unusually still day, so I was also able to observe some pollinators. The majority of them were on yellow flowers like the goldfields, biscuitroots, and glue-seeds. I saw almost as many flies as bees, along with a few beetles covered in pollen. Toward the basin of Olcott, there were more white and purple flowers and I noticed many more honey bees on those flowers (the Downingia and Navarettia) than native bees or flies.

I was hoping to find some calicoflowers (Downingia) and I was not disappointed! Two weeks earlier, I'd seen the first maroonspot calicoflower in the eastern pasture next to the picnic area. On this walk, I found the first harlequin calicoflowers emerging from the dry basin. Last year, I saw them higher up toward the uplands, but I think since the lake never filled up this year they will mostly flower in the lower lake bed. It's still early in the season for the Downingia, but I'll keep an eye on them into May!

Posted on April 21, 2020 04:12 by lglevanik lglevanik | 4 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment