The Early Bird

KP, SS, and I hiked Picchetti Ranch on 2/28/09 with a group of seven. The weather was cloudy.

We heard or saw 33 bird species (mostly heard) over the four hours. The best look was a pair of California Thrashers not far from the winery, perched atop a tree by the trail, and an occupied Red-shouldered Hawk nest in a Eucalyptus.

As we neared the pond, we spotted a deer on the other side. A California Newt with rough skin made its way uphill from the pond, while a Pacific Treefrog or two called. The pond had little water considering the amount of rain we’ve had recently. A gopher popped its head out of a hole nearby. A few Banana Slugs made their appearances.

The usual oak near the pond had some old galls, including a large stem gall with two smaller galls attached to it, and two small stem galls about .5″ in diameter.

There were quite a few Elfin Saddle mushrooms along the way, and there were a lot of other fungi including a colony of coral fungus on a dead log. Clematis, Blue Witch, Indian Warrior, and a bit of Fiddleneck were blooming. Poison Oak was starting to leaf out.

Water rushed downhill at the bridges on Zinfandel Trail, and there were a couple of large white insect larvae in the pooled water (I resisted the urge to climb down to take a look).  We crept along, having lost most of our group to other commitments, looking for non-bird interesting things (the birds were quiet in the woods, and nowhere to be seen). There was a promising-looking area, a small trail bank slide, so I went ahead. A liverwort bonanza! There were at least three species of liverworts right there, along with various mosses. On my own, I’ve only seen one or two other liverworts, without fruiting bodies. These had them (and, I guess that somewhat painful UC Jepson Herbarium bryophyte workshop paid off).

See the trip photos here: The Early Bird