Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve
|Horseshoe Lake, a cool oasis high in the Santa Cruz mountains.
|Near the shore, a large California Newt rises
to the surface for a quick gulp of air.
|The trail loops around the lake, passes into
forest shade, then climbs a small hill.
|Fence Lizards are a common sight along the trail to the lake.
|Many different kinds of wildflowers edge the trail,
including this non-native camomile.
|Winecup Clarkia can be seen blooming in several places.
|Bright yellow Mariposa Lilies favor sunny hillsides (mid-May to mid-July).
|Banks of Sticky Monkeyflower can be found
in sheltered areas (April through July).
|Non-native Bird's Foot Lotus is common everywhere
along the trail, an important nectar source for insects.
|Rock surfaces exposed to sun retain heat, creating
a comfortable spot for cold-blooded reptiles to rest.
|In shaded areas, wildflowers like this Ocean Spray bloom (mid-July).
|In the undergrowth beside the trail, the pink blush
of the California Wild Rose (June-July).
|Along this same shaded avenue, Crimson Columbines
brighten the path (June-July).
|Banks of Farewell-to-Spring Clarkia can be found blooming in sunny areas.
|Skunkweed blooms June to September and edges the trail in drier areas.
|This beautiful wildflower is Davy's Centaury.
Look for it as the trail climbs uphill.
|And where there are wildflowers, there are butterflies feeding.
|A Callippe Fritillary sips nectar from a buckeye flower (July).
|A Mylitta Crescent perched on a camomile flower.
|Newly emerged Chalcedon Checkerspot.
Its wings still crumpled from confinement in its cocoon.
|A tiny Western Tailed Blue butterfly sips nectar from a camomile flower.
|An Acmon Blue turns around slowly as it feeds.
|This Acmon Blue thinks there may still be
a little nectar left in this dried out Italian thistle.
|A Common Ringlet feeds on camomile.
|During a visit 14 July, clouds of tiny
Golden Hairstreaks danced along the trail's shaded avenues.
|More than a hint of autumn in the air.
|Showy butterflies like this California Sister
favor cool forests with water nearby.
|Numerous dragonflies patrol Horseshoe Lake in search of food.
|Although exquisitely beautiful, dragonflies
like this 8-Spotted Skimmer, are serious predators.
|A female 8-Spotted Skimmer pauses at the water's edge.
|Dragonflies prey on small insects as well as
on tiny mosquito fish, tadpoles and baby frogs.
|A magnificent Flame Skimmer pauses briefly before resuming flight.
|Gripping a dry stalk, a Cardinal Meadowhawk balances effortlessly.
|Cardinals' vivid color, streamlined body aids in identification.
|Nearby, a Blue Dasher adopts a similar pose.
|Blue Dasher's are distinguished from Western Pondhawks
by their teal green-blue eyes and white faces.
|Smaller, less active, this female Widow Skimmer
almost went unnoticed among the reeds.
|Watch for her close to the base of weeds along the shore.
|As green as the surrounding foliage, a female Western Meadowhawk.
|A pair of Tule/Arroyo Bluet damselflies in congress.
|Bench near the lake is an ideal spot for observing dragonflies.
|From here, the trail passes through a quarter mile of shaded forest avenues.
|Then emerges into sunlight as the trail climbs a small hill above the lake.
|A variety of wildflowers can also be found along this stretch of trail.
|A Fence Lizard suns itself beside the trail.
|As summer wears on, wildflowers and butterflies will fade away.
Visit Horseshoe Lake soon.
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|More dragonflies? Visit Roop Pond.