Sunday, July 7, 2013

An Interesting Saturday Hike

 The Wasp nest under construction that I posted here a few days ago was destroyed by Friday (above), then undergoing reconstruction again on Saturday morning (below).  They are building onto the same pedestal.  I'm curious about how far away they went and how they found the same spot again.
 I'm going to tell a little Mullein story tomorrow.  Too sleepy to continue tonight.

Monday evening: There is a great patch of Mullein along the railroad tracks above the Berry Creek undercrossing.  All growth stages are represented.  Mullein is a bienniel.  The photo below is what the plant looks like in its first year.  Just basal leaves.  Sometimes they flatten out a bit, and they can rise and fall a bit during each day, but they do not grow a tall stem.  They wilt and turn brown in the fall, but the root stays alive.
During the second season, the Mullein starts off looking the same way, but soon starts developing a tall stem.  It can reach 10 feet in height, and sometimes it branches as in the photo below, but sometimes it remains a single stem, and lots of yellow flowers grow from the top portion.  Click on the photo for a close-up.
St the end of the second season, the plant dies.  The flowers wilt, produce seeds, and fall off.  The whole stem turns brown and dies.  The dead stem may remain standing through several winters, depending on weather conditions.  The tall brown ones in the photo below might be 3, 4, 5, or more years old.
Eventually, even the hardiest stems will fall (below), and you have a Mullein graveyard.
In all stages, the Mullein provides good hiding places for lizards and bugs, and the flowers are insect and spider favorites.  Many birds like the seeds.
These photos of the Leopard Lily were taken around the pool where Berry Creek emerges from under the railroad track.

From the Berry Creek pool, there is a short dirt road leading down to the paved entrance road to Oakland Camp.  It was along this dirt road that we saw the white Goldenrod Crab Spider resting in the same spot on the same plant as when we first discovered it a week ago.

Here's another shot of the Gopher Snake we saw Saturday on the way back from this hike to Berry Creek.
On California Thistles near the camp entrance there were lots of Leafhoppers.  Pretty well camouflaged, but we were determined to find some interesting bugs.

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