Dates: February 21 and 25, 2017
Place: Sycamore Grove Park, Livermore, California
Length: 4.5 miles
The road from Livermore to Del Valle goes through a pretty valley with a large grove of sycamore trees. Each time I'd go to Del Valle I'd look at them and sigh with pleasure. So when last month I discovered there was a park there, I immediately put it on my wish list. Now all I needed was a break in the rains.
An almost incessant weather system paused for half a day two weeks ago and I hopped into the car and drove out to Livermore. By then I also had another motivation to hike there - I was planning to take the chikas' 4-H Hiking Project to that park on the following Saturday.
And I did. So the photos here are from both days: my solo hike on 2/21 and the 4-H Hiking Project hike on 2/25, to which Pappa Quail had joined too.
I start with a photo from my second hike: while I was waiting at the gate for everyone to arrive Pappa Quail got tipped by the park's personnel that a pair of red-shouldered hawks was nesting on a nearby tree and went to look for them. As I was directing the group to the parking meter and the toilets, he was taking a lovely series of photos of the pair and their nest.
|Red-shouldered Hawk, February 25|
|Our hike as captured by Pappa Quail's GPS|
A few days before the group hike I was there on my own, checking out the trail. It was expected to rain that day, but as I got to the park the rain ceased. The trails were flowing still, like little rivers.
|Flowing ruts of Walnut Trail, February 21.|
|Quarry View, February 21.|
|Black-tailed Deer, February 21.|
Here is a link to the little video clip I filmed of this spring hole.
The fresh spring water run copiously above ground, turning trails into rivulets and grassland into swamps. Some of the water would collect into sink holes and disappear below ground just like that, only to re-spring at another lower altitude spring hole.
I went on the little meadowlark loop trail that eventually reconnects with the Wagons Rd Trail. The break in the rain on February 21 was about to close. Dark clouds were rolling in and I quickened my pace.
|Oak on the hill.|
And so I did: 5 turtles sitting on a log in the middle of the pond.
A few days later we saw only two turtles basking in that spot, and Pappa Quail got a nice zoom shot of them.
Pappa Quail also took a photo of a tiny orange flower he saw a bit away from the trail and showed me. It was a scarlet pimpernel - a highly invasive weed that I take great efforts in trying to eradicate from my yard. Still I post it here because it is a beautiful photo, and the flower is beautiful, a pest that it is.
|California Buttercup, Ranunculus californicus|
I continued descending along a fast flowing little creek until I reached a level, open grassland area with a lovely, sweeping view of the old farmlands, the outskirts of Livermore, and the treelike that marked Arroyo Del Valle. That Dark green peak on the horizon, a bit to the right is Brushy Peak.
The sights closer to the trail were nice too: little clumps of johnney nip flowers bloomed along the trail. They were almost done blooming, in fact.
|Blue Dicks, Dichelostemma capitatum|
These trees, as expected by late February, were mostly bare of fruit. Still, there was enough to full a quart-size jar. The 4-H group members helped picking these olives and I took them with me to cure. They are still curing as I write these words, and they smell terrific. I have to be patient for a little while longer :-)
|Avenue of Olives. February 21|
|Red-tailed Hawk, juvenile. February 25|
|California Ground Squirrel, February 25|
|Old "Oliviana" Winery|
|California Towhee, February 21|
|Turkey Vulture, February 21|
|Flooded Trail, February 21|
|Arroyo Del Valle|
|Storm clouds over Sycamore Grove Park|
Four days later for our 4-H hike it was a brilliant, sunny day. Perfect for bird watching.
|California Sycamore, Platanus racemosa, February 21|