Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Evening Walk in Hick's Canyon

Sunday I went on a hike in Hick's Canyon. This trail is not open to the general public, but is open for certain programs with the Irvine Ranch Conservancy. The hike I attended is no longer going to be offered because a newer, better trail is being opened down the road, and that particular hike will henceforth be held there.
Hick's Canyon Trail.

I began my walk a little after 2:45pm, and immediately the trail heads steeply uphill. In the scrubby trees around me, Cassin's kingbirds were calling and chasing each other about. Song sparrows and house finches added their calls to the general hubbub.
At the crest of the first hill is a tiny reservoir filled with water and a few reeds. In this little pond I found a common yellowthroat, and my best bird of the day - a ring-necked duck. These ducks are simple, but deceptively pretty, with subtle facial markings.
Moving on along the trail, lesser goldfinches were piping their plaintive calls, and flying around in large flocks. Ravens overhead croaked as they flew back and forth across the canyon. In the distance a red-tailed hawk circled on the afternoon thermals.
The hills continued, despite the trail being less than 1 3/4 miles, it's a decent workout when you factor in the 4 steep hills you climb to get out, and then back across them on the return trip, phew!
In terms of non-bird life, there were American ladies fluttering across the trails, causing me to look quite ridiculous as I chased after them in hopes of a good shot. Cabbage whites also graced the path, but were far less numerous than the ladies.
Laurel Sumac - a frost indicator plant.
Wildflowers growing along the trail were blue dicks, a simple purplish-blue flower, as well as non-native invasive mustard plants. There was also scrub oak, a single elderberry bush, plenty of lemonade berry looking decidedly burned, as well as another non-native invasive species - artichoke thistle. Yuck.
I spent some time photographing laurel sumac with sunlight filtering through it in the most attractive way, and then headed home along the trail.

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