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Field Trip Report: Paramount Ranch to Malibu Creek State Park, 9 April 2011

April 12, 2011
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Yearling Trail across Reagan meadow (Aurelio Albaisa 4/9/11)

It was a slow day for the wildflowers.  We had a lot of rain this year and it has been colder than usual this spring, which probably is the reason for the poor showing of wildflowers.  We were able to identify 58 varieties, but some of them were not actually blooming yet. (See list below.)  The Chia on High Rd. not far from the

Bush Lupine (Mary Lou Newmark 4/9/11)

Malibu Creek SP parking lot was spectacular and in full bloom.  Interestingly, many non-natives were thriving and in full force, among them: Burr Clover, Milk Thistle, Spring Vetch, Wild Radish, Horehound, Mustard and Red-stem Filaree.  Strangely absent was our State Flower the California Poppy.  The shade loving natives also seemed to be more prominent, including: both Purple and White Nightshade, Skullcap, Fiesta Flower, and Wild Cucumber.

Dudleaya - Not a cabbage (Mary Lou Newmark 4/9/11)

Many plants were quite leafy although lacking flowers. Perhaps it will just be a late year and the blooms will come out in a few weeks.  You might want to check back again along the trail to see what is out there.    [Peggy Burhenn]

As usual, the weather was variable.  It was around 35° with a cloudless sky when we started, got up to 64° around 11 a.m., dropped back down to 59° when clouds came in, then popped back up for lunch.  The 20 of us walked around the Paramount old west town to start, then set off toward Reagan Ranch.  Lots of plants and flowers, kept us company and gave us plenty to look at and listen to.  Spring is definitely here.

Mataté - for grinding acorns into meal (Aurelio Albaisa 4/9/11)

Birds were singing everywhere.  Especially notable were the House and Bewick’s Wrens, California and Spotted Towhees, Song Sparrows and House Finches.  Just uptrail from Century Lake two Canyon Wrens were heard in the distance, their liquid, waterfall-dropping song bouncing off the spectacular cliffs.  A Red-tailed Hawk was carrying sticks to build a nest near the Reagan ranchhouse and – back at Paramount Ranch – a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks decided that it was the proper time for mating on a limb during our lunch. (Paaleeze! We’re eating here!)  Some birds have no sense of propriety.

Tom's Clover - an ID toughy (Peggy Burhenn 4/9/11)

House Wrens were commonly heard, less commonly seen.  Both Hooded and Bullock’s Orioles were in the trees overhanging the Reagan Ranch access road; Western and Cassin’s Kingbirds were in the grassy fields nearby.  Farther along, at the edge of the chaparral we came across both Golden-crowned and White-crowned Sparrows next to one of the numerous, singing, California Towhees in a bush.  During the brief period when these birds sing, rather than just Chink!, it’s tough to tell their song from that of the Wrentit. Sometimes all certainty as to which is which disappears.  California Thrashers burbled at us

One of many crags on Crags Rd. (Mary Lou Newmark 4/9/11)

from the oak-chaparral as we descended Cage Creek Trail.  Apparently those pesky local apes have ceased capturing humans, or have moved elsewhere, as the cage was empty.

At one point, trip leader and State Park docent Peggy Burhenn  commented that about 15% of people are not allergic to Poison Oak (“leaves of three – let it be”).  Yours truly decided to lend support to this statement with a small demonstration.  I have never been affected by Poison Oak, Poison Ivy, Poison Sumac or Mango fruit skins.  Black Flies, on the other hand…well anyway, I broke off a sprig and rubbed the leaves around my wrist and back of hand, at which point many onlookers got really excited, for some unknown reason.  Oh Ye of little faith!  As of this moment, three days later, no ill effects, other than my wife becoming very peeved at me, afraid that I might get some Ivy oil on her.

View east from Crags Rd (Mary Lou Newmark 4/9/11)

Peggy also commented that the Wild Cucumber seedpods (when dried, they look like brown Sea Urchins) while not edible, were used as toys by the Native Americans.

Everyone enjoyed the meandering Yearling Trail (and the lack of bicycles thereon) through the Reagan Ranch meadow.  I read somewhere recently that  Ronald Reagan (during his pre-President days)  laid the trail out himself for hiking and horseback riding over to Malibu Creek.  Nice choice, Ronnie!  We salute you.

High Rd. has huge Coastal Live Oaks (M.L. Newmark 4/9/11)

Links to April, 2010 and March, 2009 trip reports.
Link to NPS website of Santa Monica Mountains flowers.
Link to March, 2011 blog and reader comments concerning conversion of Yearling & Lookout trails from hiking to biking trails.
[Chuck Almdale]

Danny's Skullcap (A.Albaisa (4/9/11)

TRIP LIST – PARAMOUNT RANCH TO MALIBU CREEK STATE PARK – 4/09/11
PLANTS BIRDS Nos.
WHITE Canada Goose 2
Ashy-leafed Buckwheat Mallard 7
California Buckwheat California Quail 6
California Everlasting Great Blue Heron 1
Dodder Turkey Vulture 4
Horehound* Cooper’s Hawk 1
Miner’s Lettuce Red-shouldered Hawk 6
Popcorn Flower Red-tailed Hawk 3
White Nightshade American Coot 4
White Sage Spotted Sandpiper 1
Wild Cucumber Band-tailed Pigeon 9
YELLOW Mourning Dove 8
Burr Clover* White-collared Swift 4
Common Fiddleneck Anna’s Hummingbird 2
Golden Currant Acorn Woodpecker 8
Golden Yarrow Nuttall’s Woodpecker 2
Mustard* Northern Flicker 2
Pineapple Weed* Black Phoebe 8
Johnny Jump-up Say’s Phoebe 3
ORANGE Cassin’s Kingbird 4
Scarlet Pimpernel* Western Kingbird 4
RED Western Scrub-Jay 12
Crimson Pitcher Sage American Crow 20
PINK Common Raven 4
Milk Thistle* No. Rough-winged Swallow 35
Purple Sage Violet-green Swallow 20
Red-stem Filaree* Cliff Swallow 1
Spring Vetch* Oak Titmouse 9
Wild Radish* Bushtit 8
PURPLE / BLUE White-breasted Nuthatch 2
Baby Blue Eyes Canyon Wren ** 1
Bajada Lupine Bewick’s Wren 12
Black Sage House Wren 25
Blue Dicks Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
Bush Lupine Western Bluebird 13
Caterpillar Phacelia Wrentit ** 7
Chia California Thrasher ** 4
Chinese Houses European Starling 6
Danny’s Skullcap Orange-crowned Warbler 5
Fern-leaf Phacelia Yellow-rumped Warbler 6
Fiesta Flower Common Yellowthroat 6
Henbit* Spotted Towhee 8
Parry’s Phacelia California Towhee 20
Purple Nightshade Song Sparrow 13
Winter Vetch* White-crowned Sparrow 1
TREES, SHRUBS, ON Golden-crowned Sparrow 2
NOT IN BLOOM Black-headed Grosbeak 3
Arroyo Willow Red-winged Blackbird 12
Big Pod Ceanothus Hooded Oriole 4
California Sagebrush Bullock’s Oriole 3
Coast Live Oak House Finch 60
Coyote Bush Lesser Goldfinch 12
Dudleaya Total Birds 52
Elderberry ** – Heard only
English Plantain*
Green Bark Ceanothus
Laural Sumac
Mistletoe
Mugwort
Poison Hemlock*
Poison Oak
Squaw Bush
Sugarbush
Toyon
Wild Rose
Yucca
Total Plants  —  58
* – Introduced species
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