Archivos de Diario para abril 2015

05 de abril de 2015

Mojave Wandering 2015 (Trip)

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I had an absolute blast exploring the Mojave Desert with Tony, Danielle, Taj, and V last weekend, and my brain is still sort of there. I've been down that way numerous times, but usually I head down earlier for the flowers, which means I've been missing all the amazing reptiles. On previous trips I wasn't quite as obsessive about documentation, either, so pouring over all the photos I took is helping me appreciate this alien (to me) landscape better than I have previously.

I've also been re-reading Allan Schoenherr's excellent A Natural History of California, a tome I've seen on many shelves and that I read from extensively when I first moved here 12 years ago, and it's been helpful in understanding the different abiotic forces at play in the desert, as well as the different vegetational communities. The notion, for instance, that ecological zonation is driven more by soil types than by elevation is interesting. Creosote Bush Scrub was legion, of course, and we got to walk around in it at Red Rock Canyon State Park, Desert Tortoise Natural Area, and almost every time we stopped the car to look at something. Joshua Tree Woodland was also super obvious, and basically surrounds the campground at Red Rock Canyon. We got up into some Pinyon / Juniper areas around Hole-in-the-Wall in Mojave National Preserve (~4000 ft elevation), though you could hardly call it a forest. The area around Hole-in-the-Wall was particularly interesting, with a yucca (Mojave AND banana, apparently) and cactus-based vegetation on the south side of the mesa (or is it a butte?) and a different community on the north side with smaller, gray shrubs I haven't ID'd yet, but also turpentine broom (Thamnosma montana). There was also catclaw acacia up at Hole-in-the-Wall, with its attendant mistletoe, which we didn't see at Red Rock.

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Kelso Dunes was pretty amazing, if anything more amazing than my memories of my last visit 11 years ago. Fringe-toed Lizards were everywhere, as well as numerous plants I was at a loss to ID in the field (certainly an interesting Astragalus, and maybe some desert lilies). We saw TONS of tracks, tons, including a really cool one that looked like a bike tread but was probably made by a beetle. I really want to go back to a desert dune like this at night and see who's making the tracks.

We spent a lot of time exploring washes, since they often had the most life, from blooming flowers to insects to birds to herps. Zebra-tailed Lizards and Desert Iguanas certainly seemed to prefer them. The wash by the lava flows on Kelbaker Rd was particularly productive. That was where we saw Desert Iguana feeding on the buds of desert senna, along with numerous leps (one black and white one eluded me, next time...). I spent a pleasant hour or two lying under a shrub at the edge of the wash below the campground at Hole-in-the-Wall, and was rewarded by a visit from some Gambel's Quail. I think the many Poor-wills we heard at night may have been using those flat areas as well.

Anyway, a grand time. One major revelation was that Red Rock Canyon and the western Mojave are really only (only!) 6 hours away, meaning it could theoretically work as a weekend trip. What other kinds of habitat could I sample in that area? Are there dunes to visit in the west? Limestone outcrops? Shadscale scrub, or alkali flats?

Also, does anyone know where I can find some decent geologic and vegetation zone maps of the Mojave? These RGMP maps are ok, and are also available as Google Maps overlays, but the lack of machine-readable data is frustrating. Haven't found veg maps but haven't looked very hard either. The state of publicly available geodata in California is, if anything, worse than it was 10 years ago, which is pretty sad, considering this is not actually a particularly difficult problem, and other states seem to manage it just fine, including equally giant states like Texas and minuscule states like Connecticut. C'mon, people.

Anotado en 05 de abril de 2015 a las 11:40 PM por kueda kueda | 228 observaciones | 5 comentarios | Deja un comentario

19 de abril de 2015

Frenzel Creek Research Natural Area and Surrounds, April 2015 (Trip)

Just a few quick notes that I may expand upon later: this place is sweet, beautiful clear creek, lots of serpentine and cool plants. Sort of doable as a day trip from the Bay Area, but you could also camp at the Forest Service campground just west on Goat Mtn. Rd. or at East Park Reservoir just east of Lodoga.

Goat Mountain Rd is dirt but totally doable for a 2WD sedan. There are numerous pullouts, though many of them are at the bottom of steep cliffs, so beware falling rocks. If you plan to leave via Lodoga Leesville and Leesville roads, those are also dirt, but also doable. Just slow (but beautiful).

There are some game paths back into the RNA, but it's mostly bushwhacking across steep hillsides, loose gravel soil, and/or through dense cypress forest by the creek or dense manzanita chaparral. There is plenty to explore along the road, though.

This place is probably pretty good for butterflies. I wasn't having much luck with photography, but I definitely had Two-tailed and Pale Swallowtails, and sisters down around the creek, a checkerspot (Edith's?), a white (Spring?), a duskywing (Sleepy?), and Anise Swallowtails hilltopping. I didn't see Indra, but it seems like it could be there. Also didn't see Lomatium marginatum, but there were other Lomatium species. Missed the MacNab cypress, supposedly on the ridges. Probably walked by it without noticing.

I really only saw one dragonfly and handful or damselflies, which was a bit surprising. Might be better later in the year.

Plants were pretty good. Things like jewelflowers and milkweeds either hadn't flowered yet or were just beginning, same with many of the stream-side species, so a later visit might also be productive. Earlier could also be good, as there were numerous fritiilaries in fruit.

I made a place record: http://www.inaturalist.org/places/frenzel-creek-research-natural-area

Best existing info on this place:
http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/programs/rna/gtr_chapters_pdf/frenzel_creek_rna.pdf
http://blog.conifercountry.com/2014/07/frenzel-creek-research-natural-area/

Anotado en 19 de abril de 2015 a las 06:25 PM por kueda kueda | 84 observaciones | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario