April Wildflowers

April 19, 2017

All that rain has really gotten the wildflowers going this month. Here are some highlights from the past few weeks:

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California goldfields (Lasthinia californica) and Gray’s clover (Trifolium grayi), share a meadow at The Indians in the upper Arroyo Seco watershed.

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Monterey mariposa lily (Calochortus uniflorus) blooming at Ft. Ord National Monument.

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Denseflower owl’s clover (Castilleja densiflora) in Carmel.

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Tidestrom’s lupine (Lupinus tidestromii), a federally listed endangered species, attempts to assure its continued existence on the planet by setting some robust seed pods. Development of the beachfront dunes where it makes its home has brought this Monterey native to the brink of extinction.

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Monterey gilia (Gilia tenuiflora arenaria), an even more highly endangered species, is another struggling denizen of the Monterey Peninsula’s vanishing dune ecosystems.

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Pink sand verbena (Abronia umbellata) is holding its own better against the onslaught of houses, hotels and ice plant.

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Yellow sand verbena (Abronia latifolia) is also doing well.

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Orange sand verbena??? Probably the result of a genetic variation. Unexpected color schemes frequently complicate the task of identifying plants.

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Pacific silver-weed (Potentilla anserina pacifica) is salt-tolerant enough to grow right down to the beach.

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Beach evening-primrose (Camissoniopsis cheiranthifolia). Imagine the lupine, gilias, verbenas, silver-weeds, and evening-primroses covering the dunes instead of houses and ice plant and you’ll get an idea of what the Monterey coast looked like 100 years ago.

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Pipestem clematis (Clematis lasiantha) along Paloma Creek.

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Western wallflower (Erysimum capitatum) along the Carmel Valley Rd.

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Indian pink (Silene laciniata californica) in the San Antonio River watershed.

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Canyon liveforever (Dudleya cymosa) at The Indians.

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Mesa brodiaea (Brodiaea jolonensis), named for the bustling town of Jolon; also at The Indians.

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Indian warrior (Pedicularis densiflora) along the Arroyo Seco River.

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A Santa Lucia easter egg balanced on a ridge…

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And it’s not just flowers that like a little warm spring rain. How about highly prized white porcini (Boletus barrowsii) fruiting in a Carmel city park?

 


Flashback! Julia Pfeiffer Burns in the 1960s

July 19, 2016

Just a few shots from the days before traffic jams and crowds…

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At the Waterfall House with my mother and sister in 1966. Notice how the waterfall drops directly into the ocean. The beach formed after a 1983 landslide put a huge amount of material into the ocean just to the north.

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Mom and Sis on the terrace.

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Leading Mom around the house (I think this photo is from 1963). To get there, we rode down from the Highway on the funicular car.


Steelhead Lose Again at Carmel River Mouth

January 11, 2016

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Slowly rising lagoon

A few days ago, everything was working out perfectly for the Carmel River’s remnant steelhead population. With the San Clemente Dam gone, the door was open for more young steelhead smolts to safely reach the lagoon, and eventually the sea, than had been possible for many years. Then, relatively gentle rains put enough flow in the river to provide easy fish passage from the higher elevation tributaries to the lagoon, but not enough to breach the high summer sandbar at the lagoon mouth. Behind the bar, the slowly filling lagoon was becoming an ideal habitat for young steelhead to undergo the rapid growth and physiological changes necessary to survive at sea. Read the rest of this entry »


November Surf in December

December 11, 2015

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A swell that peaked at 30 feet last night combined with a 6.5 foot high tide to bring ground-shaking waves ashore on Carmel Point this morning. Read the rest of this entry »


Coastal Commission to Weigh in on Carmel Beach Fires

December 8, 2015

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Carmel Beach

If you’re sitting at a city council meeting and hear the mayor proudly describe how he got the head of a government agency to write a letter threatening to take enforcement action against the city, you’re probably not really in Bizarro World or the Twilight Zone; you’re just in Carmel and the item on the agenda is beach fires. Read the rest of this entry »


Carmel Prepares to Ban Beach Fires Once and For All

November 30, 2015

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A summer evening on the Carmel Beach

If there’s one activity that pretty much defines what it means to be human, it’s sitting around a fire. Your parents did it, their parents did it, and so did everyone else in your family tree going back for as many as 1.7 million or more years – a time long before anyone remotely resembling a modern person even existed. Until quite recently, it was something that nearly everyone did nearly every day. Read the rest of this entry »


Up Against the Wall: Steelhead and the Carmel Lagoon Ecosystem Protective Barrier

February 9, 2015

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The Carmel River Lagoon in 1947 (Laidlaw Williams photo)

There’s been some uproar lately over the plan to build a flood barrier in the Carmel River Lagoon and people have been asking on social media and elsewhere why anyone would propose to place such an assumed-to-be-ugly wall along the northern margin of such a beautiful wetland. A better question may be whether we can find a way to live our lives that doesn’t prevent steelhead from living at all. Either way, it’s a long story… Read the rest of this entry »