I got up around 7:00 this morning after a pretty good night’s sleep. It was slightly foggy in the early hours, but that burned off quickly, and the rest of the day was sunny. It got up to 70°!
Around 7:30 I headed over to William Land Park and the WPA Rock Garden for a walk. I figured a walk through the garden and around both the larger and middle ponds would equal a mile so it would count as my #5 walk in my #52HikeChallenge. [Using a GPS tracker on the walk, I found it was actually about 1¼ miles, so… yay!]
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Even though it’s winter, the WPA Rock Garden still has some plants and flowers showing off a bit. The Strawberry Tress were especially pretty with their long panicles of urn-shaped flowers trailing down.
Among the birds flitting around, there were the usual Golden-Crowned Sparrows, Bushtits, hummingbirds, some Spotted Towhees, and Crows, but I was happy and surprised to see a Hermit Thrush bopping around in under some of the bushes. They’re such sweet little things with their round speckled breasts.
Don’t let their size and cuteness trick you, though. These can be tenacious birds who will defend their breeding territories with a lot of aggression. Sometimes the male gets so ramped up, he chases females away. Oops! Kind of defeats the purpose of a breeding ground. Hah! They’re also omnivorous, eating insects and spiders, amphibians and reptiles… and fruit from a variety of plants and trees. The one I saw was tossing leaf-litter under a Mock Orange looking for breakfast.
At the middle pond, half of the Sacred Lotus has been dredged up, and all that remains are the dead stalks of last year’s plants. All of the dead stuff will have to go eventually to make room for next spring’s outcropping of the plants. Less lotus plants means more water for the waterfowl, but I didn’t see anything “exotic” in or around the pond, just the usual ducks and geese.
On the lawn, there was a small cadre of Northern Flickers looking for ants and grubs, and in another area there was a small flock of Dark-Eyed Juncos. Up in the trees were Lesser Goldfinches and Audubon’s Warblers trying to get the seeds out of the seed pods left open and dangling on the Sycamore Trees.
In one of the Italian Cypress trees behind the amphitheater on the grounds, there was a pair of squirrels making out. I guess if you’re going to have sex, high up in the heavy greenery of a cypress is a good place to do it. Only nosy naturalists would notice you there.
At the larger pond, there was again the usual crowd of ducks and geese, but also on the lawns there were Mourning Doves, warblers, and Western Bluebirds. In the trees on the far side of the pond were Turkey Vultures, preening and stretching in the early morning sunlight before taking off for long kettling flights overhead.
It was such a lovely morning. I walked for about 3 hours before heading back home.
- Audubon’s Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
- Bald Cypress Tree, Taxodium distichum
- Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
- Borage, Borago officinalis [blue “beaked” flowers]
- Buff Orpington Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Orpington
- Bunch-flowered Daffodil, Narcissus tazetta
- California Sycamore, Platanus racemose
- Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
- Candelabra Aloe, Aloe arborescens
- Common Correa, Correa reflexa [trumpet shaped pink flowers]
- Common Sugarbush, Spicebush, Protea repens
- Coyote Tobacco, Nicotiana attenuata
- Crested Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Crested
- Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
- Dark-Eyed Junco, Junco hyemalis
- Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
- Douglas’ Squirrel, Tamiasciurus douglasii [brown with white belly]
- Dutch Iris, Iris × hollandica
- Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
- Elephant’s-Ears, Bergenia crassifolia [like a begonia, bouquet of pink flowers]
- Ginkgo, Ginkgo biloba
- Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
- Great Egret, Ardea alba
- Greater Honeywort, Cerinthe major [spotted leaves, “shrimp-like” flowers]
- Green Hellebore, Helleborus viridis
- Hairy Violet, Viola hirta
- Heavenly Bamboo, Nandina domestica [bright red berries]
- Hedgehog Holly, European Holly, Ilex aquifolium
- Hen-and-chickens Echeveria, Echeveria secunda
- Hermit Thrush, Catharus guttatus
- Italian Cypress, Mediterranean Cypress, Cupressus sempervirens
- Japanese Aralia, Fatsia japonica [stalks of white flowers, huge leaves]
- Japanese Wisteria, Wisteria floribunda
- Large-flower Pink-Sorrel, Oxalis debilis [clover-like leaves, pink flowers]
- Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
- Liquid Ambar, American Sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua
- Love-in-a-Mist, Nigella damascena
- Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
- Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
- Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
- Oregon Grape, Barberry, Berberis aquifolium
- Pekin Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Pekin
- Red Gum Eucalyptus, River Redgum, Eucalyptus camaldulensis
- Redvein Abutilon, Callianthe picta [lantern-like flowers]
- Rosemary, Salvia rosmarinus
- Sacred Lotus, Nelumbo nucifera
- Spanish Butcher’s-Broom, Ruscus hypophyllum [tiny white flowers in the middle of the leaf]
- Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
- Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo
- Sulphur Grevillea, Grevillea juniperina ssp. sulphurea [orange spidery flowers]
- Swan Goose, Anser cygnoides [can be white, or gray/brown, knob on the bill]
- Swedish Blue Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Swedish Blue
- Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
- Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana
- Wood Duck, Aix sponsa