Well, Lake Solano Park was still closed and we couldn’t get in, not even to just walk along the edge of the lake. The rangers and county were still cleaning up after last year’s wildfires. They were felling a lot of burned trees that were in danger of falling into the roadways or into the waterways.
The fire that burned up through that area was part of the LNU Lightning Complex Fire that burned between August and October of last year and ate up over 360,000 acres. I hadn’t realized how much of that area had burned, and was REALLY surprised when we got up further into the hills to see foothill after foothill just covered in nothing but black match-stick trees.
In one burned area we came across Acorn Woodpeckers that were going through the acorns on the blackened ground, selecting ones they’d then take up into their granary trees. Some of the woodpeckers were using a telephone pole to store the acorns because, I assumed, their trees were burnt.
In some areas, blackened trees and shrubs were coming back from the roots. And in other places, the wildflowers were prolific.
Because we couldn’t get into the park, we drove around to the “back” of the lake which is visible from Putah Creek Road. Here, though, there were very few birds. Reflections on the water were lovely, and we got to see a few different early spring galls on some of the plants.
We then headed back toward Pleasants Valley Road and took that to Mix Canyon Road. Mix Canyon is a dead end road and fairly narrow. (I’m surprised two cars can actually sit on it, side by side.) It winds high up into the hills; the elevation gain is about 2178 feet. The road is the only way in and out; I’m sure when the fires came, getting out to safety was severely hampered. I only saw evidence of one home burned to the ground, but there may have been others… and lots of obvious landscape damage.
Along the way we noted that there were For Sale signs all along the road. Oddly enough, though, we also saw several new pads cut into the hillsides; contractors taking advantage of the fact that there was now a lack of shrubs and understory plants to contend with.
We started out seeing small numbers of wildflowers, and the variety and numbers grew more and more as we went up toward the end of the road. There were huge swaths of poppies, lupine and (surprisingly) Chinese Houses. I’ve never seen that many Chinese Houses in one location in all my life. They were particularly gorgeous.
There were so many photos, I broke them down into two albums.
In the more shadowed areas and cliffsides, we saw lots of larkspur (purple and scarlet), woodland stars, ferns, globe lilies and other flowers.
We were looking for fritillaries and found one of the two that had been spotted there by others earlier: Checker Lilies. I’d never seen them “live” before; they’re so interesting.
We stopped at one of the turn outs and had our lunch before heading back down the road. We turned in to one of the fishing access areas along Putah Creek, but by then it was the afternoon, getting too warm for me, and I was very tired, so we didn’t stay long. Still, in all, we were out and about for almost nine or ten hours. That’s a long day for me, but I enjoyed it.
Because we were in the car for the majority of the time, I didn’t count this outing toward my #52HikeChallenge.
- Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
- Almond Tree, Prunus dulcis
- Aphid, Cabbage Aphid, Brevicoryne brassicae
- Arroyo Lupine, Lupinus succulentus
- Blow Wives, Soft Blow Wives, Achyrachaena mollis
- Blue Dicks, Dipterostemon capitatus
- Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
- Buckbrush, Ceanothus cuneatus
- California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
- California Lomatium, Lomatium californicum
- California Manroot, Bigroot, Marah fabaceus
- California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
- California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica
- Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
- Canyon Live-Forever, Dudleya cymosa
- Checker Lily, Fritillaria affinis
- Chick Lupine, Lupinus microcarpus
- Chinese Houses, Purple Chinese Houses, Collinsia heterophylla
- Chinese Pistache, Pistacia chinensis
- Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
- Common Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus albus
- Convergent Lady Beetle, Hippodamia convergens
- Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
- Coyote Brush Stem Gall Moth, Gnorimoschema baccharisella
- Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
- Death Camas, Foothill Deathcamas, Toxicoscordion paniculatum
- Digger Bee, Tribe: Anthophorin
- Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
- Dove’s-Foot Crane’s-Bill, Geranium mole
- Fennel, Sweet Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare
- Fern, California Polypody, Polypodium californicum
- Field Poppy, Common Poppy, Papaver rhoeas
- Fringepod, Sand Fringepod, Thysanocarpus curvipes
- Gall Inducing Wooly Aphid, Stegophylla essigi [in live oaks, folds the leaf over itself; sometimes the leaf turns red/reddish]
- Globe Lily, Diogenes’ Lantern, Calochortus amabilis [yellow]
- Goat, Domestic Goat, Capra hircus
- Goldfields, California Goldfields, Lasthenia californica
- Gray Pine, Pinus sabiniana
- Hairy Vetch, Winter Vetch, Vicia villosa ssp. villosa
- Henderson’s Shooting Star, Primula hendersonii
- Hillside Woodland Star, Lithophragma heterophyllum
- Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
- Italian Thistle, Carduus pycnocephalus
- Ithuriel’s Spear, Triteleia laxa
- Larkspur, Red Larkspur, Delphinium nudicaule
- Larkspur, Zigzag Larkspur, Delphinium patens [purple, striped lips]
- Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
- Live Oak Gall Wasp, Spring Generation, Callirhytis quercuspomiformis [looks like a soft funnel, green to brown]
- Live Oak Kermes, Allokermes cueroensis
- Llama, Lama glama
- Long Horned Beetle, Callimus ruficollis [black with red thorax]
- Mahogany, Birchleaf Mountain Mahogany, Cercocarpus betuloides
- Maidenhair, California Maidenhair Fern, Adiantum jordanii
- Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
- Marsh Morning Glory, Calystegia sepium limnophila
- Meadow Spittlebug, Philaenus spumarius [spit]
- Mountain Phacelia, Phacelia imbricata
- Mule’s Ears, Smooth Mule-Ears, Wyethia glabra
- Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
- Northern Rough-Winged Swallow, Stelgidopteryx serripennis [ashy]
- Orange Bush Monkeyflower, Diplacus aurantiacus
- Oxalis, Bermuda Buttercup, Oxalis pes-caprae
- Pacific Pea, Lathyrus vestitus
- Pacific Sanicle, Sanicula crassicaulis [large, yellow flowers]
- Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
- Q-Tips, Micropus californicus
- Rapeseed, Brassica napus
- Red Maids, Calandrinia menziesii
- Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
- Rose Clover, Trifolium hirtum
- Santa Barbara Sedge, Carex barbarae
- Scarlet Pimpernel, Lysimachia arvensis
- Seablush, Longspur Seablush, Plectritis macrocera
- Seablush, Shortspur Seablush, Plectritis congesta
- Shepherd’s-Purse, Capsella bursa-pastoris
- Smooth Cliffbrake, Pellaea glabella
- Tamarisk, Saltcedar, Tamarix ramosissima
- Taw Man-Root, Marah watsonii
- Tomcat Clover, Trifolium willdenovii
- Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
- Warrior’s Plume, Pedicularis densiflora
- Western Polished Lady Beetle, Cycloneda polita [orange, no spots]
- White Nemophila, Nemophila heterophylla
- Wild Oat Grass, Chrysopogon aciculatus
- Woolly Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja foliolosa