Saturday, April 7, 2012

March goes out like a lion and brings April flowers

We finally got some rain at the end of March, and I've ridden my bike way too much lately, leading to an uncharacteristic lack of bike motivation, so last week I took a day to go search out wildflowers at Santa Teresa County Park.  This park down in the south part of San Jose is on many lists as a local wildflower hotspot; I took my mom here last year when she visited at the end of May, only to find that that was a little too late.  I had to go back.

 This year, perhaps I was a little too early.  Still it didn't stop me from finding a couple of lovely hillsides full of flowers, and a total of at least 30 species that I was able to at least tentatively identify.  Much of the landscape is on serpentine, which around here at least seems to lead to numerous interesting blooms.  Here are a few for you to enjoy:

Two of my favorites -- cream cups and blue-eyed grass.  I just find them aesthetically pleasing (and easy to identify!), and I just like the name blue-eyed grass.

The poison oak is looking glossy and fecund.  I'm not sure I was ever aware that it flowered visibly before.  Evil itchy stuff.

I can't help but include the teasel for my mom, who famously made my dad stop on the side of the road to collect some on a long-past family vacation.  Species name dipsacus, so y'all learn a new word.  Invasive, but sort of cool and sculptural.

Topsy-turvey two-toned tidytips.  I don't remember taking this (must've been an accident!), but like the alliteration.  And the lopsided-ness.

A couple of new ones for me:  this poisonous Blue Witch, and the bright pink checkerbloom

The park itself is fairly small, but you can still pack in an 8 1/2 mile hike and not hit all the trails, with views of both Mt. Hamilton to the east and Mt. Umunhum to the west.  (yes, there are views of Hamilton without the power lines, but I am constantly amused by the urban/wild interfaces around here.

Along with all the flowers, there were a number of bugs and critters to stalk.  There seemed to be a particularly large number of turkeys -- the last shot is of one getting a running start just before it took off in flight and glided over a 100 foot ravine to get away from me.  I didn't know they could do that...most amazing.

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