May 11, 2017

Excellent chaparral bloom

The chaparral is really taking advantage of the wet year to bloom like crazy. Right now chamise is out in full force, along with monkeyflower and wild cherries. Since last year there were hardly any cherries, it would be great to have a bumper crop this year. Pitcher sage is also particularly lush now. And so very many checkerspot butterflies! Both here and at St. Joseph's Hill.

Unfortunately, invasives are also really thriving. There was so much Vicia villosa in the northeast of the park that I chose not to hike there for a while, it was too depressing. In other areas, Italian thistle is rampant, along with so much alien grass, drowning out native wildflowers over whole hillsides. How to reverse this trend and restore native grasslands to their pre-European invasion state? Yes, this was a managed land then, but native people somehow managed it for diversity as well as their own use.

Posted on May 11, 2017 03:51 by newtpatrol newtpatrol | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 21, 2016

Early bloomers

The surprise early bloomer at Fremont Older is a big, beautiful Ribes sanguineum, covered in buds and bursting into bloom, a month earlier than last year. Despite my obsession with wildflowers, I do enjoy having a break from them to look at other things like fungi. But the break might be shorter than usual this year, if manzanitas and Ribes are blooming already.

Posted on December 21, 2016 01:23 by newtpatrol newtpatrol | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 14, 2016

Chaparral in fruit

Last year, both Prunus illicifolia and Toyon put off a fantastic amount of fruit, seemed like every bush I encountered in the south bay was loaded. This year, I've encountered hardly any wild cherries at all (which is a bummer, they're delicious) and far fewer Toyon berries. I wonder if a year's dearth is what just usually follows a year of bounty. Or were they reacting to the series of drier winters versus this past year's more average amount of rain in a somewhat counter-intuitive way?

It will also be interesting to see how many robins show up at Fremont Older this winter. Last year there were an astonishing number of them, there to ravish the berry-laden Toyons.

Posted on November 14, 2016 07:16 by newtpatrol newtpatrol | 0 comments | Leave a comment

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