Light of Morn
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Nature Hike, Rancho San Vicente
15 October 2011
Following "a road less traveled" into the park.

Small groves of oaks bordered the road in many places.

Hike participants passing through a shaded avenue.
This large Deadman's Foot fungus has punched its way through a thick layer of asphalt to reach the light.
Nearby, and far less noticeable, a pair of dried out Earth Star fungus.
Hillside Tarweed, a summer-to-fall blooming wildflower.
Wing pattern of the Common Buckeye resembles the face (eyes/nostrils) of some fantastic creature.
Pink scallop markings on lower wings identifies this as an Acmon Blue butterfly.
Following the road as it winds through open grassland.
Lots of color along the way; trailside wild blackberries.
A cluster of Blue Oak leaves.
Crimson leaves, pale seed pods identify this as poison oak.
The Bay Laurel produces a seed high in protein, a valuable food source for birds and other wildlife.
In contrast, the large seed pod of a Buckeye Tree is almost too bitter to eat. (Note the poison oak!)
A pair of oak galls on a Blue Oak branch.
An Acorn Woodpecker forages for acorns amid the branches of a Coast Live Oak.
Acorn Woodpeckers collect and store acorns to have a reliable food supply.
Reach for the sky! Poison oak often climbs up through the branches of trees to gain more light.
Yellow Star Thistle -- an invasive plant species, yet a rich nectar source for insects.
Splashes of crimson; poison oak changes color with the season.
So bright, its almost fluorescent, lichen embellishes an outcrop of serpentine.
A favorite view, a stand of Bay Laurels against the skyline.
Everywhere, the landscape was like a tapestry of color and texture.
A large, Banded Argiope Trifasciata or Garden Spider. (Underside view)
The endangered Santa Clara Valley Dudleya is often found growing on serpentine outcrops this this one.
During the hike, we saw 3 or 4 Red Jumping Spiders. (Size? 3-5mm)
A stacked line of serpentine rocks resembling a crumbling stone wall.
A lichen fan spreads across one edge of a small rock.
Serpentine is volcanic in origin. These boulders were once molten rock.
View of a distant section of Almaden Quicksilver County Park with Mt Ummunum on the skyline.
View of Calero Reservoir, Calero County Park in the distance.
Red color shows where serpentine dependent wildflowers will bloom next spring.
View of Almaden Valley and distant Bay Area communities shrouded in haze.
Common Buckeye balances delicately atop a Star Thistle bloom.
Close up view of an Acmon Blue showing its distinctive markings.
Serpentine habitat, look for wildflowers here next spring!
Towering Bay Laurels - in spring a carpet of wildflowers surrounds them.
Beautiful day, perfect weather for a fall hike.
One of scores of impressive oaks seen along the way.
Beautiful cloud-scape overhead!
Beautiful scenery whichever way you looked!
This oaks leaves have changed color and will soon fall to the ground, decompose and nourish the soil.
A pair of towering Coast Live Oaks seen near the end of the hike.
Go to for information on future hikes into Rancho San Vicente.
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