Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Trees and Invasive Critters: The Importance of Raptors

Hiking Pine Canyon In The Rain On The Castle Rock Trail

Today's hike was a wet one but a good one... I decided to hike the Diablo Foothills area on the Castle Rock trail that goes along the Pine Canyon Nature Walk trail as well... This trail head is inside of the Castle Rock Regional Park area and the walk from the parking lot heading into the park just to get to the trail is a beautiful hike as well ...

Full of great views of the seasonal Pine Creek which is flowing in full today but is dry much of the year... As well as some  far off views of  Castle Rock along the way...
When you near the trail head a  big green to the right of the path is the Castle Rock Recreation area Baseball Diamond...
Just a few yards past that on the left is one of the coolest trees in all these hills... It's branches are so huge that years ago they had propped them up with steel poles to hold them up ... They have been  there for so long now that the tree has claimed them as part of itself..
.At  the start of the  Castle Rock trail  I can hear the sounds of the stream flowing over the rocks as I enter the moss covered Pine Canyon...
The views of a winters Pine Creek in the rain were spectacular this morning ...
The trail winds around up and over a  moss covered cement spillway that  looks very old...
At this point the terrain along the right of the trail starts to become a rocky cliff that eventually begins to steepen into a massive solid  rock formation..
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From this angle it looks like the inspiration for Grizzly Mountain in Disneys California Adventure park ...
On the end of the large rock formation right along side the trail was a small wind cave that was pretty cool...
I was actually able to climb in and get a view from  looking out the cave for you...
Turning toward the rocks the Castle Rock trail gives you your first of many spectacular views of these beautiful rocks that stick out from the foothills nearly a thousand feet above the trail..


The cliffs high above are filled with holes and various caves that are most likely shelter to many different animals on a rainy night like this one...
The wildlife that lives here is all around you on the trail...  I saw Blacktailed Deer on their trail across  the other side of  Pine Creek ...
As well as a set of Cougar prints down by the water ,
and some Bobcat tracks up on the trail....
There was even a beautiful Diablo Red Tailed as well who was perched proudly atop of a big oak tree in the rain ...
Hiking in the rain in this environment at this time of the year was very cool... I even enjoyed a bit of off trail time in the Buckeye Canyon which was really pretty in the heavy rain that began to fall as I climbed into it..
The Morning Glory off the trail in the canyons and the fern covered ravines were so lush green and full of life today...

Hiking out of the Buckeye Canyon back onto the Castle Rock trail the view of the rock above was again very cool... Heading back to the trail head the rain started to come down pretty good ...
As I headed back I noticed a family of Mallard Ducks enjoying the very seasonal Winter waters of Pine Creek in what could easily be described as Duck weather...

I really enjoyed myself hiking the Castle Rock trail in the rain today and I plan to explore more of the Diablo Foothills Regional Park real soon ...The Castle Rock Trail is definitely one of my favorite local trails...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mr. Blacktailed And Family

video
As you may know I like to keep tabs on a small group of Deer that live off Cowell road here in town...This  is  a bit  more footage taken just the other day of one of the larger Blacktailed Bucks of Cowell road...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Woody the Wood Pecking Hawk

This Woodpecker was in my front yard yesterday and was being very loud...Not his pecking but his voice...He sounded a bit like a  Red Tailed Hawk screeching just outside my door ... I went and got my camera and found this fellow perched in my tree yelling profanities down at my cat who also found him to be an interesting looking bird ...  He soon flew off to another tree that my kitty was not hunting under... I get woodpeckers in my trees often but I had not seen one of this size or variety in my yard before... The color patterns on him are awesome... What a pretty looking bird !

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Got Blossoms?

 

A Holiday Hike @ Borges Ranch



 Yesterday I went for a nice walk with my fifteen year old son in the Shell Ridge Open Space @ Old Borges Ranch ...
If you have teenage children then you already know how difficult it can be to get them to do something like a nice hike in the woods with just the two of you allowing for some one on one time ...  Be that as it may after I overcame his resistance to the idea we headed off to Old Borges...
This place is full of local history... I used to take him here quite a bit when he was little and as we walked along the trail we both started to remember those times ... The hills are all turning greener and greener this time of year making for a seasonally unique setting to hike around in...
There is  also a kids fishing pond at Borges Ranch  called "The Bob Pond" that is catch and release and it has had some Catfish and Bluegill in it in the past..

The Bob Pond was very full of water this day and the view from there of the surrounding hills was spectacular..
.The Ground Squirrels were out in great number seeming ever so alert to their overhead predators...Such as   the large Red Tailed that soared gracefully above...Dancing the same way together that they have done forever...Below here is a great shot of a watchful Ground Squirrel taken by my son... 
There are various types of birds that nest this time of year and some of them have chosen to nest in the Borges front yard...
The Borges residence there was finished in 1901 which is when they moved into the house after living in a three room shack while building it...
Knowing the rich history of this old Shell Ridge ranch one can easily imagine how the descendants of these birds  were nesting here in the front yard of this home when it was new over a hundred years ago... With adult supervision Borges ranch also allows access to some of the domestic farm animals that live on the ranch adding to the old ranch experience... My son really enjoyed the Pigmy Goats...
He thought they looked a bit like our  Wire Hair Fox Terrier who wears a similar goatee ...
Me , I always enjoy trying to get a good rooster face glamor shot while I am there...
  Francis Borge and his family sure did have a beautiful piece of property to live and work on and we sure did enjoy hiking around on it for a couple of hours... As we headed back up the trail to the car I noticed that quite a few folks were actually out hiking and enjoying the no school holiday walking around the trails there with their kids... (They probably read Smokeysmountain) lol Enjoy the pics!  Smokey...

Friday, February 5, 2010

On The Trail @ Crystal Ranch



Today I went for a walk on the trail in Crystal Ranch... This trail is an East Bay Regional Parks trail and is well maintained...  This stretch of the California hiking and riding trail can be found crossing Crystal Ranch road at the bottom of the hill inside the neighborhood...
The trail takes you back into the borders of the Mangini Ranch property where the headwaters of the Galindo Creek begin.
..This section of the  trail explores a very unique part of the foothills connecting the mountain to the Lime Ridge area...
 
The 208 acre Mangini property was sold to the folks at Save Mount Diablo to be reintroduced as part of Mt.Diablo's  protected public lands..
.Hiking on that land as of yet is allowed only with permission ...The trail does go right up to a locked gate with many posted no trespassing signs on it...
At that point the trail turns uphill to the right and starts to climb up over a deep ravine with beautiful old Oak trees sprawled out all through it..

.Along the way the trail conditions were muddy a bit in spots allowing for the easy identifying of some obvious animal tracks left by a Cougar as well as a Bobcat ..
.I also found scat on the trail just above the ravine there... Cougar and Bobcat scat will commonly be right on the trail left there purposely as a territorial marker...
Hiking further into the canyon I came to a Huge old Oak tree that looked like its branches had been the favorite napping spot for the animals of this canyon...
Hiking off trail just a bit I headed up to one of the head springs that flow down into Galindo Creek and on down Cowell rd... The Hike off trail over to the springs was only about a hundred yards but as I approached  it the sound of what seemed to be a million frogs became very loud...
It wasn't until I was standing right at the bank's of the spring that they briefly  stopped their  amphibian choir...
I did not see any Blacktailed Deer on this hike out here but I did see plenty of hoof prints all around the springs and on the trail as well... This canyon is separated only by barbed wire from the Mangini land which is the home and favorite hunting grounds of many different raptors like this beautiful Red Tailed Hawk...
These two seemed to be keeping tabs on me as I hiked through their favorite cafeteria ...
The beautiful green hillsides this time of year always make for some great pictures...Adding even more to the experience as I enjoyed this trail today!