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Spring Walk: Wildflowers, Ferns, Holes, and Pines

3 15 10 Meadow Views Popcorn flowers (2)
The glories of spring are bursting out all around in our neck of the woods. The other day I mentioned that I could smell the difference in the air as we hiked. Well, today I noticed that I can hear the difference in the seasons….the woods are filled with birds and insect buzzings. The bees and other flying gnat sort of insects were flying in and out of the meadow as we stopped to observe the flowers. What a welcome sound!

Our meadow view is changing each time we hike this way now. The popcorn flowers are still blooming along with some Sierra Shooting Stars and if you look carefully about center of this photo you will notice a big hole that someone is digging. We are stumped over who could have made it.

critter hole in the trail
Speaking of holes, this is one right in the middle of the pathway. It isn’t as large as the other hole, but our dog loves to stick her nose down there and sniff every time we pass by here.

critter hole with excavation
Here is yet another hole we noticed freshly dug on the side of the trail. This one is not as neat and tidy as the other hole and you can see all the broken rocks and dirt that have been excavated out of the hole. I am assuming two different creatures dug these holes since they are made so differently.

Sometimes we wish we could set up a camera to capture the activity after we leave each day. My boys are always so curious about these holes and we have never really seen anything that we think might be actually digging them. We can venture guesses, but if we had a camera rigged up we might confirm our ideas.

The only creatures besides birds that we saw on our hike today were a Gray squirrel and an Alligator lizard and we know neither of those critters made these holes.

Sierra shooting star
Here they are! Sierra Shooting Stars….there are so many of these blooming right now that some areas are just polka-dotted with pink. It must be spring.

mules ears
We will watch these Mule’s Ears for a long time before they actually bloom with a sunflower shaped flower. Can you guess why they call them Mule’s Ears?

fern frontside
We have been noticing all the new growth on the ferns on the sides of the canyon as we walk down.

fern backside
Here is the backside of the fern. Isn’t it interesting? We are determined to spend some time this week learning more about ferns.

maiden hair fern
The Maidenhair ferns are so beautiful right now. Notice the black stems?

fern unfurling
This is what a fern looks like as it unfurls its fronds. They are all curled up like this to begin with and then they slowly unroll and flatten out. Fascinating and amazing at the same time!

pine growth
Wow! The pines along the trail are all popping out with these red growths on the ends of the branches. We are going to research what part of the plant this is…the new needles, the cones, something else? My boys think they are the baby cones. I’m not sure. Time to investigate.

Edit 4/28/10: These are pollen cones. These are the male cones and they contain the pollen to fertilize the seeds which are on the female pine cone. Now we know.

pine needles
We are not even sure what kind of pine tree this is. Look at the length of those needles!

The only other thing worth mentioning is that our black lab had FIVE ticks on her when we got back to the car. It is definitely tick season and we will start to make appropriate adjustments to our hiking routine, long pants for us and a thorough going over the dog’s fur before we head home each day. If you catch the ticks before they burrow in, you can just flick them off easily. They are actually fairly easy to spot and we rarely have trouble with them actually biting us or the dog. She gets regular flea and tick protection applied and it seems to work well.

We are off on an adventure today to another county. I relish a new place to hike and since we are taking a few weeks off as part of our “spring break”, the boys are eager to get outside in the sunshine. The predicted high today is around 70 degrees. Yahoo! So we are off to pack a lunch and fill up our water bottles to spend a day being refreshed by a new territory to discover.

2 thoughts on “Spring Walk: Wildflowers, Ferns, Holes, and Pines

  1. Beautiful Flowers! I really enjoy ferns, miss them – here we do not see many of them and Ticks – yikes I had my first tick last year, freaked me out…LOL. Blessings

  2. What fun. I was noticing on my walk this morning that there are suddenly clover and other little wildflowers bursting out into bloom.

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