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2022 May 30

Secret Walks: Wilder Ranch Coastal Loop yet again

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 10:54
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I posted before about doing the Wilder Ranch Coastal Loop on March 25 and on April 10.  On Sunday 22 May I went again, this time with my wife and my sister, neither of whom had done the loop before.  We drove to the park, but parked on Highway 1, rather than driving in to the parking lot.

western-tiger-swallowtail

I usually have difficulty photographing butterflies, but this western tiger swallowtail posed nicely for me on the wild radish. I got a few photos, but this one shows the markings best.

wild-radish

The wild radishes themselves have nice blooms at this time of year—I like the purplish ones best.

wood-rose

The wood rose had just a single bloom—I don’t know whether it has more in a different season.

bee

This is one of my better bee photo, on some sort of mustard flower.

bee-on-seaside-wooly-sunflower

Here is a bee on seaside wooly sunflower (it was a good day for bee photos).

yellow-bush-lupine

The yellow bush lupine was blooming but also showing seed pods.

western-gull-on-ridge

I zoomed way in to get this western gull on the ridge across the beach, but the quality was not all I hoped for.

harbor-seals

The harbor seal pups have gotten quite big—the one coming out of the water here is about half the size of the adults now. A lot of the seals were out on the rocks rather than on the sandy beach.

black-guillemot

I could not identify these black guillemots until I got the photos home and could look at them on a bigger screen—again the quality at full zoom leaves a little to be desired.

fern-grotto

I took my sister down to fern grotto beach, but my wife did not want to make the steep descent. That was probably just as well, as I slipped and fell, and I’m usually surer-footed than my wife.

sister-in-grotto

Here is proof (if any of her friends need it), that my sister was indeed at Fern Grotto Beach.

holes-in-cliff

Every time I go to Fern Grotto Beach, I’m fascinated by these holes in the cliffs. The all line up horizontally, but there is not a visible difference between the rock layer with the holes and that layers immediately above and below.

north-across-fern-grotto-beach

The view across Fern Grotto Beach looking north is a classic northern California coastline landscape. The finger of rock jutting out in the middle is where a lot of the harbor seal colony was sleeping.

seaside-daisy

The seaside daisies were putting on a fine display.

pelicans-on-beach

We saw a lot of pelicans on the beach at Wilder Creek. I’ve never seen pelicans on the ground before.

100s-of-pelicans

I’ve also never seen so many pelicans at once (this was not even all of them, as there were another 50–100 in the creek). Usually a dozen pelicans flying in line is the biggest cluster I see.

California-buckeye

The California buckeyes were also blooming vigorously. Pretty soon the flowers will be over and the buckeyes will drop their leaves for the summer. I don’t know of any other deciduous tree that has leaves in winter and drops them for the summer.

2022 April 14

Secret Walks: Wilder Ranch Coastal Loop again

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:15
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I posted before about my first time doing the Wilder Ranch Coastal Loop on March 25. On April 10, I did the loop again (in the opposite direction) with a group from the Monterey Bay Stanford Club.  I biked there and back, parking my bicycle on the fence next to the parking kiosk, as there do not seem to be any more planned places to park bicycles. I picked up a map of the park from the parking kiosk. The walk was a very slow and leisurely stroll, with frequent stops to look at the scenery.  The average age of the attendees was probably a bit older than me.

sand-plant-beach

This is either Sand Plant Beach (as the state-park map labels it) or Little Strawberry Beach (as Google Maps labels it). There is a trail down to the beach on each side, to connect up to the Ohlone Bluff Trail, but we did not go down to the beach.

seals-on-beach

The next beach east is off-limits to people, because of the harbor seals hanging out there.

sleeping-seal

The seals look very comfortable when they are sleeping.

two-seals

Another pair of seals. Is the one in back molting?

seal-in-surf

This seal looked very happy to be playing in the waves.

seals-with-pup

The biggest change from my previous visit was the presence of pups—here is one surrounded by adults.

possibly-dead-pup

It looks like some of the pups did not survive.

pup-playing-in-water

Here is another pup, playing in the water.

gull-wading

We did not see many birds on this walk, but I did get one shot of a gull wading.

fern-grotto-1

Unlike my previous walk, most of the group walked down the somewhat steep and wet trail to Fern Grotto Beach. Here is the eponymous fern grotto.

fern-grotto-2

The ferns hanging down from the rocks are quite impressive.

fern-grotto-3

Another view of the ferns.

fern-grotto-4

Looking out from the grotto, you can see droplets of water dripping off the ferns.

fern-grotto-5

The whole thing looks like a Victorian garden feature.

wave-breaking-fern-grotto-beach

The ocean side of Fern Grotto Beach has some nice rocks for the waves to break on.

seals-from-ocean-side

Here are the seals again, seen from the ocean side with my zoom lens.

seal-from-ocean-side-unzoom

Without the zoom, it is rather difficult to make out the seals—the group of them are just a few dots extending the lines of the cliff to their right.

Chrysolina-bankii

This beetle on the trail appears to be a Chrysolina bankii, based on a Google Lens search and looking at many pictures of the species.

group-from-back

Here is the walking group seen from the back.

canada-geese

Wilder Beach is closed to the public, but with my zoom lens, I could just see the canada geese in Wilder Creek from the Wilder Beach Overlook.

california-poppy-1

California poppies are still in bloom.

california-poppy-2

But many of the poppies have lost their petals and are showing red skirts around their seed pods.

After the walk, we gathered at the picnic tables between the chicken coop and the goat pasture and ate the lunches we had brought. The group seems like a nice enough group of people, and I would be willing to go walking with them again, though the level of exercise was rather minimal (I got far more exercise bicycling there and back). The visitor center was open, so I picked up a free map of Henry Cowell Redwoods state park while I was there.

2022 March 25

Secret Walks: Wilder Ranch Coastal Loop

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 23:30
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On Friday March 25, I went for a walk with a friend.  She drove us to Wilder Ranch, where we did the short coastal loop (about 2.15 miles). The route could be extended by scrambling down to Little Strawberry Beach, or by going around Old Dairy Gulch along the railway tracks—there is quite a bit more coastal trail to the west (which Santa Cruz people will think of as “north”).

coastal-loop-map

We did about the shortest coastal loop that is possible, as the fields are still being farmed.Click the image for a higher-resolution map.

There was a lot of scenery and wildlife along the route, so I took a lot of pictures. I think that the tide was low, so that the rocks and sea caves were unusually visible.

sea-cave-1

There are some nice views of sea caves.

sea-cave2

The telephoto lens lets me get a good view of the sea cave in the previous picture without getting wet.

man-and-cormorant

The little black oval about a third of the way up the cliff is a cormorant, I believe. The man on top of the cliff provides scale.

sea-cave3

Another sea cave.

well-formed-walk

My wife and I regard a walk near water as well-formed if we see an egret. This one was a bit far away, and some of the zoom here is from Photoshop Elements, but it is clearly an egret.

black-guillemot

These were also way too far away to get a good picture, but I believe that they are black guillemots.

erigeron-glaucus

I believe that this is Erigeron glaucus, known as seaside daisy or seaside fleabane.

western-gull

I believe that this handsome gull is a western gull, but I have a hard time identifying gulls.

cormorants

The cormorants here look like they are members of a gang.

western-gull-2

Another western gull.

cormorant-convention

A convention of cormorants

sea-lions-and-cave

Sea lions Seals on a beach and yet another sea cave

glaucous-winged-gull-and-cormorants

I believe that this is a galucous-winged gull hanging out with the cormorants.

rabbit-1

This rabbit was a bit cautious and would not let us get close.

rabbit2

This rabbit with the notched ear was closer, but behind plants that made it hard for me to get a good photo.

holes-in-cliff-1

I don’t know what mechanism makes all the holes in this cliff be at the same height.

holes-in-cliff-2

The holes continue around the cliffs at the same level.

sea-lion-1

This sea lion seal was a loner, not sharing the beach with most of the others.

canada-goose

The canada goose was right at the edge of the cliff—probably for easy take-off and good views.

sea-lions

Some of the sea lions seals on the beach watched us, but most just napped on their sides.

sea-lion-2

One of the alert sea lions seals.

sea-lions-2

The patterns on the fur vary quite a bit.

sea-lion-3

This one seemed to be particularly relaxed.

beach-and-cliffs

A view of the beach with sea lions seals from the landward end.

California-quail

A california quail.

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