Field Trip: Sunol Regional Park

Date: Saturday March 12, 2011

Time: 8:45 AM

Trip Report added on 3/16/2011 (NSAS Event)


Trip Report: by David Takeuchi
Five NSAS members met Terri Bostater, Naturalist at Sunol Regional Wilderness. Terri gave us an introduction to the Sunol which is part of the East Bay Regional Park District. Also joining us was Dana Flores, Naturalist Intern. The park attracts many hikers, including families. We started our walk, crossing a bridge over Alameda Creek. Pat Heldrith pointed out a thrush which turned out to be a Hermit Thrush. We walked through the riparian picnic grounds, bring back memories of past NSAS field trips. The flowing stream under oaks , birds calling and the easy access to parking is why we have selected to had gourmet picnics in this wooded area in the past. The morning was sunny and cool, and as the hike progressed later in the morning, jackets were shed. The hills were green from the winter rains and the coming of spring attracted birds, singing their repetitive songs. Orange crowned warblers called to us during our gentle hike to Little Yosemite. Red-shoulder hawks cried throughout the canyon as they circled with the thermals. Wildflowers were scattered along the trail, and provided Dana the opportunity to takes photos. There were plots of shooting stars and wild pansy, also known as Johnny Jump-ups. Mike Moshier also took photos, but his was of birds. A small bird called to Cheryl Harris as it darted across a fallen log. It turned out to be a Bewick Wren. The waterfall as Little Yosemite was more like a back yard waterfall than the rush of water that follows a heavy rainfall. The massive boulders lend its name to Little Yosemite. A family with two young children enjoyed the pool of water below the falls. It was evident this was not their first time to visit the pool. They passed us on the way to the falls, which by the way is not marked with a sign. The creek flowed crystal clear, and during the warm summer months will be an inviting attraction to dip your feet and cool off. We ate our lunch at a picnic table under canyon oaks, before heading back. I stopped at the Visitor Center. The snakes were asleep, and the female tarantulas has come out of her borrow for a drink of water.

Bird list: Red-shoulder Hawk 4, California Towhee 5, Lesser Goldfinch 1, Dark-eyed Junco 7, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 3, Hermit Thrush 1, Pileated Woodpecker 1, Bewick Wren 1, Mallard 2, Annaís Humming Bird 5, Black Phoebe 3, Red-shafted Flicker 1, Northern Flicker 1, Acorn Woodpecker 9, Red-tailed Hawk 3, Scrub Jay 5, Stellarís Jay 2, European Starling 5, Turkey Vulture 10, Violet Green Swallow 5, White Crowned Sparrow 5, Orange Crowned Warbler 9, Yellow Warbler 1, Bushtit 2, Spotted Towhee 3, White-breasted Nuthatch 1, Nuttallís Woodpecker 2, Golden Crowned Sparrow 15, Yellow-rumped Warbler 2, White-tailed Kite 2, Chestnut-backed Chickadee 1.

Flower list: California Buttercup, Filaree, Johnny Jump-up, Shooting Star, Baby Blue Eye, Bee Plant, Manroot/Wild Cucumber, Sticky Monkey flower, Fiddleneck, Minerís Lettuce, Milk Maid, Ithurielís spear, Blue Witch, Blue Dick.

Pre-trip Description:
We will meet with Terri Bostater, Naturalist, who will give us an introduction to the park and an overview of the best trails to follow to see birds and wildflowers which should be in bloom. She reports that milkmaids have already begun to bloom this third week in January. There is a $5.00 parking fee payable at the kiosk. Ask for directions to get to the Visitor Center parking lot. Back pack a lunch. Bring drinking water, and bug spray, just in case you need it. There is no drinking water in the park. We will be going on a hike. Those with more energy may want to hike the 2 miles to Little Yosemite.

This is one of the East Bay's most scenic and memorable regional parks, complete with a visitor center, self-guided nature trail, and even "Little Yosemite" gorge. Click here to visit the regional park web page with lots more information.

Directions: We will meet at the old Green Barn Visitor Center, 8:45 AM, Sunol Regional Wilderness, 1895 Geary Road, Sunol, CA. From the Benicia area, go south on I-680 and exit at Calaveras Road/Highway 84 just south of the town of Pleasanton. Turn left onto Calaveras Road and proceed to Geary Road, which leads directly into the park. Click here for a Google Map showing where the park is located.

submitted on January 26, 2011, at 06:12 PM PST

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