Yesterday (Sunday) Sarah, her mother Diane, and I went for a hike around Bon Tempe Lake in the Marin Municipal Water District. I was looking forward to seeing what was blooming compared to the last time we were here, in early March.
We hit the trail at around 11:30 under sunny skies and low-70s temperatures, ahhh, late spring! Walking across the dam at the western end of Bon Tempe Lake, we saw a few Double-crested Cormorants sunning on a levee, but few other avians. A left at the end of the dam got us to the Shadyside Trail.
I love the descriptive simplicity of the two trails’ names circling Bon Tempe Lake. The Shadyside Trail, as one might guess, is all forested, mostly redwoods, and the Sunnyside Trail is all open grasslands with no shade whatsoever. A nice feature of this arrangement is that in just 4 short, easy miles, you get two very different ecosystems and their attendant flora and fauna.
Coralroot Orchid sp. (Corralorhiza sp.)
On our previous hike in early March the flora was concentrated in the Shadyside Trail. This time it was to be the opposite. We saw few flowers as we hiked among the redwoods, mostly California Milkwort, a few gone-to-seed Coralroot Orchids (Spotted or Striped I cannot say, since there were no petals to distinguish them!), some Miner’s Lettuce that had turned from green to reddish or yellow, and the tell-tale leaves of Fetid Adder’s Tongue, whose blooms were on their last legs back in March.
Although a few birds were singing, none were seen on this stretch of trail, and before too long we came out of the forest and into a sandy open habitat, where the wildflowering picked up considerably.
Yellow Mariposa Lily (Calochortus luteus)
We were thrilled to find what was to be the first of many patches of beautiful Yellow Mariposa Lilies, along with various Asters, and a new one for me, Sticky Navarretia, which was growing in only one hillside, but abundantly there. Patches of brilliant Davy’s Centaury dotted the areas under shrubbery, and Elegant Brodiaea and Ithuriel’s Spear were about as abundant as I’ve ever seen them, with purple-blue dots scattered on nearly every open, sunny area!
Sticky Navarretia (Navarretia viscidula)
Passing the farthest parking lot, we took a short-cut trail, bypassing Pine Point, as it provides yet another habitat (pine forest) that’s been productive for birding in the past. Not so this time, although we saw numerous black feathers on the ground, and the trees were pock-marked from years of woodpecker use.
Elegant Brodiaea (Brodiaea elegans)
Emerging from the forest and walking along the service road for a short ways, we saw a single Osprey soaring far overhead, nothing like the nice close views we’ve had here previously, but always a pleasure to see anyways. In the disturbed ground next to the road grew Sticky Monkeyflower, California Poppies, and Purple Clarkia, with some scattered Anderson Thistles for good measure.
Common Mergansers (Mergus merganser)
Returning to the Sunnyside Trail, we found our view for the day – a female Common Merganser diving with her 8 little chicks! I’d never seen baby mergansers before – like most baby ducks, they’re quite cute! We spent some time watching them play and dive, then all line up in a row to follow Mom.
Ithuriel’s Spear (Triteleia laxa)
Having had our fill of watching the ducks, we found a nice rocky area to sit and have our sandwiches. As I sat I noticed a strange low-growing flower. It turned out to be another new one for me, Common Lippia.
Common Lippia (Phyla nodiflora)
We finished our lunch and continued towards the car, not seeing too much different than before, save for a patch of Pearly Everlasting, and another new-to-me flower, Rosilla. Not that hiking next to abundant Yellow Mariposas, Elegant Brodiaea, and Ithuriel’s Spear is in any way a tiresome thing!
Wild Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum)
By the car grew a patch of Wild Teasel, a funny spiky-looking plant, and right as I was about to drive off I saw a couple of Pale Flax by the roadside. As always, this was an awesome hike with great diversity.
Distance: ~4 miles
Time: ~ 2 hours
|Birds seen:||Wildflowers seen:|
|– Barn Swallow
– Chestnut-backed Chickadee
– Common Merganser (w/chicks!)
– Common Raven
– Double-crested Cormorant
– Red-winged Blackbird
– Spotted Towhee
– Turkey Vulture
– Western Gull
|– Anderson Thistle
– Aster sps.
– Blue-eyed Grass
– Broad-leaved Filaree
– California Hedgenettle
– California Milkwort
– California Poppy
– Common Checkerbloom
* Common Lipia
– Coral-root Orchid sp. (in seed)
– Coyote Mint
– Davy’s Centaury
– Elegant Brodiaea
– Fetid Adder’s Tongue (leaves)
– Ithuriel’s Spear
– Madia sp.
– Miner’s Lettuce
– Pale Flax
– Purple Clarkia
– Pea sp.
– Pearly Everlasting
– Scarlet Pimpernel
– Sticky Monkeyflower
* Sticky Navarretia
– Wild Teasel
– Yellow Mariposa Lily
* = new-to-me flower