Friday, January 30, 2015

25-Nov-2014 Quarry Road East Spur, Felton, California

The cone-producing tree.
Today Clothilde and I headed directly for Michael Gray Field, the Santa Cruz County baseball diamond I’d spotted on my previous trip.  Disappointingly but not too surprisingly, every last cone had been removed from beneath the magnificent ponderosa pines (Pinus ponderosa) behind the field.  It would have been a unique collecting spot, to be sure, given that the only plant in the understory was ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis), the South African invasive that has been so successful at colonizing California’s coastal cliffs…and apparently also the dust mote region of at least one inland baseball diamond.

Leaving our car parked at Gray Field, we walked to the nearby Quarry Road gate and were delighted to see at least half a dozen linked locks on its chain.  This usually spells “public” rather than “private”, and seeing no signs warning away trespassers, we headed into a lovely ponderosa forest with a manzanita shrub understory in full bloom.  We would learn soon enough by the San Lorenzo Valley Water District truck passing us that a) this was indeed public land, and b) by the driver’s friendly wave that nobody minded that we were there.  We didn’t have to travel far along the eastern spur of the road to find our cones.

Cones on needles and oak leaves.
Empty spider egg sac on cone scale.
We processed our cones again in Felton’s Skypark, where, looking west from our picnic table, we could see the inner western wall of a closed quarry.  Today’s collection site had been just over that rim.

Together we collected seven spiders from our 20-cone sample, five by the tapping method and two by the peel method.

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