Looping Bon Tempe with Michael – 17 September 2012

“Friday Fishwrap” with thanks to Herb Caen:

An enormous rattlesnake is a hard act to follow. Michael shared an account of the finding of the mother of all rattlesnakes in the Bon Tempe area recently and a photo that Armando had sent along. (For your eyes only.) It was located in an area frequented by hikers so had to be moved to another (undisclosed) location – we all have to forget the den area that Michael pointed out to us. Michael reflected that at one time there were these enormous creatures out there (I hesitate to call them specimens.) in earlier eras in America. Memories of reading The Bear by William Faulkner returned from a far off college class in American lit.

The Sky Oaks gate parking permit machine, come a bit early.

Scouting the lake for waterbirds

Double-crested Cormorant practices her ballet moves. Michael mentioned that no one could observe what the double cresting was and that no other cormorant is commonly found on fresh water in our area. Sibley writes that they make hoarse bullfrog like grunting; clear-spoken yaaa yaa ya. David Lukas writes in his excellent BAY AREA BIRDS that they were common in the Bay Area until the 1940s when their populations suffered a major decline until the 1970s. His descriptions in this book are compelling: www.lukasguides.com We know him, of course, as one of our hike leaders and friend.

Going round the bend

Sky blue above, lake blue below and Tam diagonals in-between

a flotilla of Horned Grebes (Eared?)

Coal-black fungal fruiting bodies, fungal domes on a fallen oak, a sign that the tree has succumbed to Sudden Oak Death.

http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/Sudden-oak-death-cases-jump-spread-in-Bay-Area-2328803.php

Larry holds a Madrone leave that has been etched with a Madrone Leaf Miner ending the leaf’s ability to photosynthesize.

Michael pulls up his column on crayfish from BAY NATURE, Earlier we’d seen a crow up on a branch feasting on a large crayfish.

http://baynature.org/articles/is-it-ok-to-catch-crawdads/

Fresh water picnic lunch with greetings

Seasonal stream bed not far from the undisclosed location. Michael talked about rattlesnake families being able to recognize their group by their odor. The large six foot female that was added to the snake den area in the hills above Bon Tempe might not be a part of that family group but . . . . is probably the biggest game in town. Here’s a well-done student project on rattlesnakes:
http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/01006/rattlesnake.htm

Michael points out Pilot Knob on the horizon (not the one I grew up with on Lake George, N.Y.) mentioning that we’ve had lunch up there on other Footloose hikes. In November of 2008, we went on that one with Armando and sadly observed the fallen Madrone Giant that had been king for many years.

Anne and Sue inspect the fallen Madrone in 2008.

The upper end of Alpine Lake and perhaps the area where the mega rattlesnake was found.

Bon Mono Lake to Michael and those on board this expedition!

P.S. Recommend the INTERNATIONAL ORANGE exhibit at Fort Point and Fort Point as well! http://www.international-orange.org

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