Saturday, January 31, 2015

1-Dec-2014 Quarry Road West Spur, Felton, California

Wet cones and needles indicated recent rain
The suburban area west of the Graniterock's Quail Hollow Quarry looked full of possibilities in the satellite photos, but Clothilde and I found few cones and even fewer open cones during our thorough search of the neighborhood’s accessible ponderosa pines (Pinus ponderosa), which weren’t many to begin with.  Having had success finding cones on the east spur of Quarry Road last week, we decided to go back and explore its west spur.  The manzanita shrubs along the trail were still in bloom and absolutely mobbed with hummingbirds.

Poison oak in fall raiment
Cone scales only partly open
Clothilde discovered poison oak.  I won’t say how.

Passing a leaky wooden water tank, several friendly water district workers and a monumental cross apparently erected when industrialist Henry J. Kaiser owned the land (a survey marker was stamped “HJ Kaiser”), we found an extensive patch of cones on a needle-strewn sandy slope below some mature ponderosas.  As has frequently been the case in the sandhills, the scales on the cones were hardly halfway open, but as I keep saying, the microhabitat is what it is.

View across closed quarry to Skypark
View across Skypark to quarry wall.
We collected 20 cones and retreated to Skypark to process them, once again taking in the reciprocal views from quarry rim to Skypark and back again.

Today's compliment of Homo sapiens in the park included a group of painfully insecure teens, a group of groundskeepers listening to songs with misogynistic lyrics during their lunch break, and an adorably nerdy chemistry student who asked some really good questions.

The front end of a dictynid.
The front end of a Xysticus crab spider.
The cones may have been soggy and poorly opened, but they still had a few spiders in them: two dictynids and a male Xysticus (Thomisidae).  Another day, another data point on the Chart of Spider Knowledge.

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