Sunday, March 2, 2008

Spring's Early Pageant

Bruce and I spent quite a bit of time out-of-doors this weekend. We are working on a plant regeneration study as volunteers in Henry W. Coe Park and got up to the Blue Ridge yesterday to visit our study plot. This is just one section of Coe Park which burned in the Lick Fire this past September. In all, the fire affected about 47,000 acres. Notwithstanding, things are coming along. Mother Nature does know what she is doing and the plants are returning.

We have two plots we are watching, both with different plant habitat. One is open mixed woodland and the other is chaparral and manzanita. Of the two, the open woodland has fared best. The fire rushed through there and scorched some trees around their base and others through the crown of the trees. Our mandate is to record the recovery of plants in the vicinity of our plots, being curious as to both what is growing in our plots but also the fate of trees which are still standing after the fire.

We're looking down more than up right now. It's still a few weeks before new growth beings in earnest up there in the trees. Meanwhile, we're studying the plants on the ground.

The earliest spring flowers are beginning to be found both in the fire sites and elsewhere throughout the park. Hounds tongue seems to be doing particularly well in the fire-affected areas.

Anyway, happy early Spring. Here are some wildflower photos from our day out there.

Here are the Hounds Tongue leaves springing up in a burned mixed woodland site. The trees in the background were all damaged to a varying extent during the fire, but here on the ground, grasses and flowering plants are returning.

I couldn't resist photographing these Shooting Stars. They were actually in an area which had not burned.

These Indian Warriors were found along the Hobbs Road, in great numbers. A harbinger of Spring, these plants are found in a community of manzanita, growing happily at their feet. This area was not affected by the fires.

And finally, on our way out of the park, fording the middle fork of the Coyote Creek at Poverty Flat and driving out on the flat beneath this spreading oak, I couldn't resist stopping to photograph the lovely light and scene. The fire was arrested just short of this flat at the toe of the Middle Ridge.