{slide=Saturday, February 20: Caspers Wilderness Park|green}

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The night before our scheduled field trip it was pouring rain, but luckily Caspers did not close down their trails, and Sarah Jayne, Rich Schilk, Mary Olander and I ventured out on the East Ridge Trail on a fresh, clean morning. We were soon greeted by beautiful coastal sage scrub and an early Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja sp. Rich and Sarah were confidently identifying butterflies, including Bramble Hairstreak, Sara’s Orangetip and a mating pair of Common Buckeye. We saw Deerweed (Lotus scoparius), just starting to bloom,, a great Clematis plant in full bloom climbing over plants near the path, a single Johnny jump up plant (Viola pedunculata) and Lemonade berry (Rhus integrifolia) and Wild cucumber vine (Marah macrocarpus) in full bloom everywhere.
Just as we were about to reach the Quail Run intersection, we reached a meadow full of Shooting stars, Dodecatheon clevelandii. They are a petite flower, and so unusual and striking with the purple/black pointed face of the flower pointed downward and the mostly white (a few light pink) petals shooting up to the sky. At the edge of this meadow we had beautiful views of the red cliffs of Casper’s east ridge in wonderful light, and over the edge of the cliff a huge grouping of California polypody fern, Polypodium californicum
It was also a good birding day, with Cactus Wren calling in the distance and White-throated Swifts flying overhead, and a great day to see a variety of mushrooms while avoiding the mud! When we return to Caspers on March 27th we should expect to see more flowers in peak bloom, and probably more butterflies, too. We know that many of you were deterred by the iffy weather, and we hope you’ll circle your calendar for our next try. This walk is meant to be for beginner and intermediate introduction, and it should be a great spring to bring a friend to see some spectacular wildflowers.

Go to Laura’s gallery to see her pictures.

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{slide=Saturday, April 10: Irvine Ranch Conservancy Auto Tour|green}

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