Saturday, June 13, 2009

You Want Space and Silence? Try the Southern Part of Henry Coe

Just got back from a little jaunt in southern Henry Coe, entering from Bell Station. What an amazing park this is - rugged Mediterranean scrub forest in the Diablo Range, and huge. The tarantulas won't be out for another couple months. The Bell Station/Dowdy Ranch access only opened 2 years ago and there was still nobody there. Get in there before the CA State parks are closed on Labor Day.

It's worth pointing out that the state has tried to put a bullet train through Coe - specifically through Orestimba Wilderness, which is (so far as I know) only one of two wilderness areas on the coast, and certainly the closest to the Bay Area. I voted for the bullet train in the last election (Measure 1A in Nov '08) but it doesn't have to go through Coe. I don't know much about the status of this route and would love for readers to comment and let me know where it is, since I know there was already a good bit of resistance to previous plans.

Baby Burrowing Owls is Some Cute Little Bastids

I learned this upon meeting some of them yesterday. I had never seen burrowing owls in the wild, but I ran across mom and dad here, standing guard above the burrow while the three younguns jostled each other to get their impatient curious glimpses of me. The picture below gives you an idea how cute these little dummies are (credit There was someone else there who got much better shots, so I hope I get to see those. Notice how I haven't told you where this was: I wish I could, but they're so easy to get to that I worry that any extra attention won't be good for them, even what might come about from this humble blog. If you do happen to hear about where they are or run across them yourself, take care not to disturb them.

What dummy ever said there's no such thing as pure line in nature?

The same day, in the space of an hour in the same park, I also saw (without even trying to) a Western scrub jay, a Bullock's Oriole (harrassing crows three times its size and making its squeak-toy call), three Cooper's hawks and a white breasted nuthatch. I'm not a bird-nut but I was pretty excited to figure out what species these were since I'd never seen any of them before. This was in the same park where, during the winter, I found a flowering eucalyptus tree - the only flowering plant for miles - with the result that it was overrun with dozens of hummingbirds, which made a sound like a living high-tension wire. I've been using the East Bay Parks for over a decade and they never cease to amaze me.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Save the Salmon - Salmon Aid June 20-21 Jack London Square, Oakland

Free music and food! Plus you'll support the dwindling salmon populations along California's coasts, which need your help. Hope to see you there.

EBMUD Checking Permits at Briones Reservoir

To test my ankle I did a loop around Briones Reservoir yesterday. Saw some neat stuff - the goats are out, big gopher snake, woke up a deer sleeping in high grass - but the point of the post is that right as I finished, an EBMUD officer pulled into the Bear Creek staging area and asked to see my permit. In 10 years of running EBMUD trails, that's the first time I'd been asked. When I got mine it was $20 for 3years - I laminated it at the office and carry it with me on trail.