November 15, 2015

drive-by naturalists

On trips I like to amuse myself by iNatting things I see from the window, my favorite example of which is Australasian Harriers in New Zealand. That's one observation for every single harrier I saw between 26 Dec 2014 -- 12 Jan 2015 inclusive, with the exception of 3 Jan when I was driving. In combination with stopovers and all the other magpies and Queen Anne's lace & etc. that I also observed but was less religious about, they form a squiggly grey line pleasingly outlining my path around South Island:

I like it when I run across places where other members who have done the same thing, like @charlie and @davidlowry who have some great big tracks across most of the US.

Posted on November 15, 2015 11:52 AM by sea-kangaroo sea-kangaroo | 11 comments | Leave a comment

October 29, 2015

central/southern California backpacking?

How are conditions this year?

A friend of mine read Wild last year and has been pretty gung-ho about getting into PCT-hiking condition, which I very much want to encourage since I have approximately 0.001 friends who are willing to spend their weekend walking all day and then sleeping on the ground. Our original Utah plans fell through due to job-change stuff, but now we're definitely set for 2-3 nights in early November.

Does anybody have any reports/recommendations? In an ordinary year I'd start with looking at Sequoia and Los Padres NF, but with the multi-year drought and terrible fires I'm not sure what areas are currently good or even just not an impassible wasteland. I know poor Kings Canyon and a lot of the San Bernardino Mts are out of commission, and I read that a lot of the trails around Santa Barbara are now completely waterless, so I was considering cobbling together a trail & off-trail one-way in Joshua Tree with cached water, but I'd love to hear any other ideas!

Posted on October 29, 2015 03:54 PM by sea-kangaroo sea-kangaroo | 5 comments | Leave a comment

March 21, 2015

Desert Wildflower Report 2 (3/16 - 3/19)

In short:

Desert Tortoise Natural Area: Excellent. Carpeted with goldfields, Mojave asters, and white sandblossom, and plenty of other non-massed blooms. The road in from California City (but not the actual preserve) lined with phacelia and suncups. Yellow carpet of presumably goldfields all around California City, around all the creosote bushes.

Red Rock Canyon SP (Hagen Nature Loop): Excellent. Covered in desert dandelions, goldfields, and suncups, also with a nice diversity of other things blooming (owl's clover, bladderpod, sandblossom, Bigelow's monkeyflower), and a lot of zebra-tailed lizards and large, plentiful sphinx moth caterpillars chewing up the Onagraceae ("lots of little varmits!" according to other hikers).

Owens Valley around Ridgecrest also carpeted in goldfields.

Death Valley NP frontcountry: Mixed. Sweltering! Ladybugs, red mites, and interesting insects all over. Big cloud of desert gold between Furnace Creek and Salt Creek, and a smaller one right around Ashford Mill. Tons of very active pupfish in Salt Creek! Gravel ghost and still-plentiful desert five-spot scattered around there too. Panamint Valley had nothing in it but blooming creosote, though there started to be some interesting things once on the eastern pass. Mosaic Canyon has a lot of bushes of what I'd guess are probably called spiny blazing star about to come into bloom. Around Zabriskie Point the same things as Furnace Creek, but in much lesser quantity. Up into Jubilee and Salisbury Pass things were starting to get good. Beavertail cactus just open, lots of tiny white daisies, a whole lot of brittlebush in one area, desert trumpet, etc.

Shoshone area: Hardly anything, though thunderstorms precluded the Tecopa canyoning I had in mind. Shoshone Pupfish in the creek behind the pool.

Highway 58: Lots of goldfields around Boron.

Highway 198 & 25 west of Coalinga: Really pretty as you go west. Rolling green hills with fields of pink cranesbill and tidy tips in Priest Valley, and a field of fiddlenecks and goldfields covered in butterflies at Peachtree Ranch. Lots of dotseed plantain and blue dicks around generally.

Pinnacles NP: Scattered things here and there (poppies, orange bush monkeyflower, indian paintbrush, the very last gasp of shooting stars), but definitely starting to enter the brown and crispy season. Lots of butterflies and frogs, though.

Posted on March 21, 2015 10:12 AM by sea-kangaroo sea-kangaroo | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 15, 2015

Desert Wildflower Report 1

No photos yet as I didn't bring my laptop, but for any Californians considering a flower-oriented road trip in the next couple of weeks:

Carrizo Plain National Monument: Excellent. Really wonderful display of fiddlenecks and vibrant purple scorpionweed filling all the fields NW of the Soda Lake entrance, around the solar farms (cross streets with names like Helios and Sun Harvest). A couple good patches of baby blue eyes and various yellow thingies on highway 58 between Carrizo and Santa Margarita, as well, particularly at the Shell Creek Road intersection. In the actual monument there are periodic big patches of various things-- mostly goldfields (on the distant mountains also), but also tiny cranesbills so dense they actually make a pink carpet, lots more fiddlenecks, and in one section suncups. Behind KCL campground there's a nice poppy patch, small but dense, though no more antelope squirrel colony (the past years of drought have been hard on the small mammals). And the hills are completely green and there are lots of large furry scarabs flying all over.

The lupine-covered hillsides behind CSU Channel Islands (as reported on Desert USA's page) are pretty much done. There are still lupines, but sparse and on hard to access slopes. The hills are verdant and lovely, though.

Antelope Valley: Around Lancaster there's an excellent California poppy display, though not in the actual reserve, which seems to always be the case, doesn't it? Best poppies are around 80th and K/L. Just look for all the orange and parked cars up on the slope. The poppies there are mingled with stripes of pink gilias in places. Farther west, along I, there's a ton of mingled poppies and goldfields all over the near and far hills and down in the flats between the sage bushes. Should still be nice next weekend even if it's pretty warm this week.

Posted on March 15, 2015 05:43 PM by sea-kangaroo sea-kangaroo | 1 comments | Leave a comment

March 22, 2014

northern California backpacking?

I was thinking of going on a 1-2 night backpacking trip with some friends this weekend. We were originally going up the coast, which it turns out is forecast to be cold and rainy all weekend, so were looking at maybe Big Sur or Pinnacles or perhaps even Montana de Oro. Does anybody have any recommendations for other parks to look into, or particular routes that would be nice this time of year?

Posted on March 22, 2014 09:32 PM by sea-kangaroo sea-kangaroo | 2 comments | Leave a comment

February 26, 2014

Lake Merritt Bioblitz

A beautiful sunny day! It turns out that Lake Merritt is really big and has nudibranchs in it (whaaaaat). I said hello to gyrrfalcon and met kueda and robberfly, who are all rad and are collectively the first through third people I have ever met "from the internet."

My favorite find was this secret tiny burrow that emitted bees, my favorite vicarious find was Ken-ichi's splendid millipede, and my favorite knowledge-find was learning that Lake Merritt has a full suite of animals that I would normally only expect to see on a reef, just writ browner and smaller. Tiny anemones, tube worms, glass shrimp, sea slaters, and sea slugs.

Posted on February 26, 2014 01:01 AM by sea-kangaroo sea-kangaroo | 74 observations | 2 comments | Leave a comment

January 27, 2014

Palo Alto Baylands Bioblitz

Finally made it to one of these!

Posted on January 27, 2014 06:41 PM by sea-kangaroo sea-kangaroo | 46 observations | 8 comments | Leave a comment

July 22, 2013

England & South Wales May 2013

A country made of hedges.

Posted on July 22, 2013 03:09 PM by sea-kangaroo sea-kangaroo | 426 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Southwest 2009

Posted on July 22, 2013 02:35 PM by sea-kangaroo sea-kangaroo | 198 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 11, 2012

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks / Giant Sequoia National Monument

Hmm, observation selection is kind of broken.

August 5-7, 2012.

I guess I'd heard "high Sierras" in the parks' descriptions and gotten the impression that the whole area was up over 7000 feet and would have perfect weather midsummer, but that was not the case! The foothills and canyon were *blazingly* hot. I went in the (lovely green, breathakingly cold) Kings River and within two minutes of getting out was completely air-dried. Also surprisingly populated for a weekday trip; all the reserveable campsites were completely full and I slept "dispersed" in the conveniently-adjacent national forest.

Particularly nice:
Star-filled night sky.
View from Moro Rock.
White-throated swifts shooting noisily past at approx. mach 3.
Caddisfly cases?
Leavis Flat campground by a creek.

Posted on August 11, 2012 04:04 PM by sea-kangaroo sea-kangaroo | 51 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment