Toad in the Hole

September 29, 2005

Winter Heat

It's winter, by some reckonings.

We took a quick stroll in Tilden Park, on the lower path from the Nature Center parking lot (isn't that a resonant phrase?) to Jewel Lake this morning. It's stiflingly hot today, but a lot cooler in the woods paths.

It's the local landscape's tired, worn-out time of year, and someone had gone before us in the last day or two with a weedwhacker to keep the path passable, so the place looked like an old man with a bad shave.

Poison oak is showing some color, and willows are half-heartedly yellowing. Live oaks are dropping their three-year-old leaves, too -- at one point, near a bench at the trail's highest point on the hillside, we stopped to listen, and a breeze knocking those stiff little leaves down made it sound like rain. There were translucent red berries in pairs and clusters on the honeysuckle*, harder little red berries on the ground under the madrone, unripe and a very few overripe berries on the blackberry tangles, white berries on the snowberry and redtwig dogwood. Zillions of gnats in clouds along the path, and herds of waterstriders on still spots in the creek.

*Coyote the Typo God invented a sinister new plant just there: the hineysuckle

We heard what was most likely a deer in the willow-dogwood brush by the creek, and it was so klutzy I'd bet it was a buck with his new antlers getting in the way.

Birds: fox sparrows! -- meaning it's winter; hermit thrush and ruby-crowned kinglet, ditto. The Townsend's warblers might have been passing through; the warbling and Hutton's vireos most likely were. The song sparrow, robins, scrub and Steller's jays, downy woodpecker(s), flicker(s), ravens, Anna's hummers, and red-shouldered hawk were almost certainly the same resident individuals we see there 'most every trip, and it's always good to see them again. A great blue heron seems to have decided to spend a season at Jewel lake, among the turtles and dragonflies and assorted fish.

Posted at September 29, 2005 08:39 PM


Our white-throated sparrows are now back in force (but no fox sparrow yet!). Most of the warblers seem to have come through. The last of the Swainson's hawks have been gathering in ever-smaller kettles... winter, yet I got up a nice sweat just biking the two miles into campus yesterday for lunch.

I would love to do Tilden with you sometime.

Posted by: Pica at September 30, 2005 02:49 PM

Tilden Park! You're making me wistful for my old stomping grounds.

Posted by: Numenius at September 30, 2005 03:50 PM

Hey, any time we all can find free for a Tilden stroll, I'm up for it.

We get up your way a time or two in winter, too, for mountain plover and such.

Posted by: Ron at October 1, 2005 07:11 AM