Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Oakland Art Tree

Spotted last November in downtown Oakland, in a store window across the street from the fabulous Fox Theatre. Always meant to post but just kept putting it off. Made of discarded items, which is a big thing in Oakland.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Shell Ridge Open Space Revisited

No rain today. Maybe in a couple more days. No seagulls so I figured it was on hold. Lots of sparrow hawks, regular hawks, ground squirrels. And millions of shell fragments from millions of years ago.

Tree growing out of rocks.

Lots of mushroom activity.

Ancient artifact discovery.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mt. Diablo, Contra Costa County

There's a one-man movement afoot to try and rename Mt. Diablo after Ronald Reagan. I and close to 75,000 Facebook users are not moved by the argument that Devil Mountain constitutes a force diabolical. In my view, Ronald Reagan Mountain conjures up much more of an image of selfishness, greed and sociopathic tendencies. In contrast Diablo is earthy, majestic, daunting and mysterious--as our natural world tends to be.

From our hike on Sunday. A beautiful day on Devil Mountain.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Shell Ridge, Walnut Creek, CA

I hiked all around Shell Ridge open space today and finally figured out how it got its name. At the top of the ridge is an area embedded with seashell fragments from millions of years ago when the entire valley was covered by ocean. I think you'll agree, that is super cool.

I saw hundreds of ground squirrels, many gliding raptors and what I think was a sparrow hawk, posing vertically in the sky while flapping its wings before diving down for probably a would-be ground-squirrel lunch. Didn't happen though. It's like Watership Down with ground squirrels up there. I had never seen a bird do that--pause in flight a few times to "stand up" in the sky while flapping. Maybe there needs to be some perching areas...? The ground squirrels are rampant and are eating all the native-plant seedlings, including the Oaks. That's why the baby oaks are enclosed in tubes, to keep the squirrels from rooting them out.

Also followed a trio of deer while trying to find my way down to the parking lot again. That was not the best plan, but the deer kept looking back at me like, "C'mon! We know where some delicious gooseberries are planted!" They were not afraid of me at all--just keeping a distance of about 15 feet ahead all the time and checking me out, but that's it. They were like lawn ornaments that eventually took off for better pastures with less enclosures to thwart them. A kindly home owner eventually helped me navigate the twisty streets back to my car.