Wildflower Walk through the Capay Valley, 04-01-15

Day Five of my Vacation.  I got up around 6:30 am and headed out toward the Capay Valley to see if I could find any wildflowers still in bloom.  I was happy to find LOTS of them!  They were all along the side of the road heading up Highway 16.  I also stopped along Bear Creek Road (where highways 16 and 20 meet) and took some pictures of the flowers around the cattle paddocks there.  Then I drove on to the Judge Davis Trail trailhead.  I had been by it once before, and forgot how fast it came up on the left side of the road… and rather than hiking the trail itself, I goofed and went up the fire road, but it was still a good hike anyway.  It was tough on my ankles – all uphill, and some parts are rather steep – and I didn’t make it all the way to the end.  But I got as far as the fire pit, and walked up a hill covered in purple-blue Ithuriel’s Spears and pink Wild Onions.  So pretty.

There were also Painted Lady butterflies, Buckeye butterflies, several Duskywings, a gorgeous Old World Swallowtail (Papilio Machaon) butterfly, and others flitting all over the place along with damselflies and dragonflies.  I also got some photos of a Yellow-Faced Bumblebee. Among the wildflowers I came across were: Nuttall’s Larkspur, Ithuriel’s spear, yellow bush lupine and the darker butter lupine, Old men’s beard (Clematis drummondii), Paintbrush, wild Lupine, Blue-Eyed Mary (Collinsia verna), Blow Wives, Milk vetch, Slender Cottonweed, Fiddleneck, Goldfields, Tidytips, Rose Clover, Wild onion, Silver puffs (yellow), Red larkspur and Goatsbeard…

Oh, the “Old Men’s Beard” was something I had never seen before.  It was a dense vine draped over a tree, with blossoms on it that looked like something from Dr. Seuss:  round shaggy blonde heads of “hair”… At another point I saw a bird dive-bombing something on the side of a hill and realized it was a coyote, so I stopped and got a tiny bit of video of it before it disappeared…  I walked for about 3 hours, and then headed home.  It was nice outside all day; 48° when I started out, and never got over 66° — perfect for walking.

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It took me about 1½ hours to get back to the house, and I took Highway 20 to Williams rather than backtracking down Highway 16 where you can only go about 45 MPH in most places.  I made it back home by about 2:30 pm and was worn out, so I crashed for the rest of the day with the dogs.

 

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Mary K. Hanson is an author, nature photographer and Certified California Naturalist living with terminal cancer.