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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There they are!