Hello Docents and Stewards of Bouverie!
I have missed seeing all of your faces around the preserve these last few months. The land at Bouverie has changed. (Thanks, Captain Obvious.) No, I’m not referring to the ecological landscape. It has changed because our great community of nature lovers, teachers, and learners, has temporarily lost its home. The Bouverie community has been a treasured part of my life since I was a wee lad becoming a Juniper. While the shoes I walk in now at 26 are different from the shoes I walked in when I was 10, this community I have grown to love is still a constant.
There are so many exciting things happening up at Bouverie right now, but I must admit it has been lonely without you. I can’t tell you how many times my mom and grandma (who you may know as docents Joli and DeAnn) have sat me down and asked, “Tell me what you did at Bouverie today?” I can only assume that all of you have wondered what I have been observing at Bouverie as well. So, in honor of you all, and our community as a whole, I would like to fill you in on some things I hope will make you smile and bring you back into the loop.
I hike the preserve about twice a week to keep tabs on how the land is responding to the fire. Sasha Berleman and I have cleared most of the immediate trail obstructions and are now finishing up clearing hazards around where there will be hiking allowed. During my hikes I visit 20 photo point spots where I take a picture in a specific location. These photos will allow us to record change over time. I have also put up a handful of time-lapse cameras that take photos at 11am every day. Those photos will be used to put together a cool time-lapse showing regrowth.
The Canyon Trail has been hiked on a ton...by newts! I counted 101 newts last week from the beginning of the trail to creek access 4. Five of those newts were California Newts and the rest were Red-bellies. They all told me to say hello to you. Newt activity so far has been similar to my observations in years past. I went up to the preserve last weekend to do some more monitoring and whilst hiking between creek access 2 and 3 I smelled something dead. After 20 minutes of searching I eventually found a cached deer! When deer are killed by a cat, they are “cached,” meaning buried in leaf litter and stored for a later meal. I threw my hands up in excitement and then quickly retracted them as I looked around the forest for a pair of curious eyes. I left and grabbed the closest trail camera and set it up above the kill. Then I called Quinton and told him what I had found. He met me at Bouverie and, after seeing the kill, told me it was likely a bobcat kill. That evening Quinton’s cool cameras wirelessly sent him a photo of a bobcat. I guess he really is a cat expert! He informed me that lions remove the rumen of a deer, while bobcats will not. It was a bit anticlimactic, as I was hoping for a mountain lion, but still fun. A couple of weeks ago I did find a picture of an uncollared mountain lion from our trail camera in the apple orchard. Exciting! Oh I forgot to mention—we have four new and improved trail cameras around the preserve! I mostly have been getting photos of shuffling turkey butts but there is always the occasional coyote, bobcat, mountain lion, curious fawn, jack rabbit, fox, deer, and me making funny faces for myself to laugh at later.
Bouverie is still a great place for birding. I’ve seen quite the diversity of birds. I saw the two peregrine falcons flying around the waterfall area, which was hardly burned. Jen Potts (Resource Ecologist) told me she saw a golden eagle in the chaparral trying to catch a wild turkey two weeks ago. This was one of the two times she had ever seen one at the preserve. I saw a great horned owl at the beginning of the Canyon Trail being heckled by scrub jays. Kurt and I saw a merlin fly over us one day. My favorite encounter, however, has been a regular Great Blue Heron who likes to visit me on my lunch breaks. It walks around the field looking for its lunch while I eat mine.
Plant regrowth around the entire preserve has been exciting to watch. Many oak trees are now freckled with green leaves in their canopies. Some of the redwoods in the pygmy forest have grown new sprouts. There is a ton of bear grass in the pygmy forest as well. Sasha told me she’s hoping to see them bloom now that there is more sunlight coming through the canopy. The Oregon Ash near the creek has growth new leaves. The most successful plant has to be the Soaproot in my opinion. I have never seen so much Soaproot growing at the preserve! There is a significant amount of Death Camas as well. I am looking forward to seeing those flower. I recently saw the first Milkmaid flowers of the year while doing oak monitoring plots with Jen (check out ACR Instagram for a photo). With loads of help from our volunteer stewards, we planted 2,000 native bunch grasses below where the Tree House deck used to be. Where there used to be invasive Harding Grass, there are now three plots containing 6 species of native bunch grasses. That’s a win for the native plants!
Well, that’s all I have for now. Here’s that photo of the uncollared lion from the apple orchard!
Keep enjoying nature,
Land Steward/Resource Ecologist