Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Met at 0830 off Los Osos Rd S of San Luis Obispo and drove north to Vineyard Rd at Templeton, then west on Hwy 46 to Santa Rosa Creek Road. Clear and hot today, light wind, maximum temperature around 90 F. Grass is all dry S of San Luis Obispo, mostly still green but drying in the upper Salinas Valley. Took Santa Rosa Creek Rd NW to the head of Rocky Creek at Black Mountain summit. The upper part of Rocky Creek near the base of Black Mountain has shaded shallow pools with undercut root bases, and looks very suitable for Taricha, especially since the creek flows S across hwy 46 and joins Santa Rita Creek. It does so by veering away from Santa Rosa Creek Rd to the SE, and runs for 3/8 mile in a deep canyon. This should be checked, although there are several houses along the road nearby at the S end.
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Drove up to San Luis Obispo to meet Juliet at 0830. Drove out to Morro Bay and up the coast, a very nice day, clear, 70s, no wind. I expected to see snakes on the road, but that has become a myth in recent years. Drove up San Simeon Creek Rd, with three stops along the way. There is water in nice woodland at about 2.2 mi. E of jct hwy 1 (and no fence), so we had a look there, nothing to be seen. Same story at the bridge at mile 3.0, and at the confluence with a southern tributary (upstream of S Fork proper) at mile 6.0. Reached the unfenced area W of the road at 6.5 mi. above hwy 1, coordinates 35.65058N, 121,04531W, 1270 feet elev., and walked down to the creek, which flows here on a low gradient in bouldery pools up to 15’ across and 2’ deep, with lots of cover underneath rounded rocks, Full canopy of oak and bay, but little undergrowth.
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Truck in the shop with a busted starter motor (second one), so I rented a car for getting around, and got around up to San Luis Obispo to meet Juliet at 0830. Took hwy 101 N to Vineyard Drive, then west to hwy 46, continuing to Santa Rosa Creek Rd. Headed NW towards Cambria with a stop at the Rocky Creek bridge S of Black Mountain. Creek here looks good for newts, but none to be seen today. Continued over Black Mountain summit and down into Santa Rosa Creek, past Matt Smith’s house below the switchback and into the wooded canyon. There is a large N tributary joining the creek here 2.5 mi. NW of Black Mountain summit, 685 feet elev., and the roadside is unfenced for almost half a mile, so we parked and had a walk. This is just about the same site as 10.0 mi. ESE of Cambria, the uppermost newt seen on 31 March. Coordinates 35.56843N, 120.93816W.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Picked up Ashlyn at CCBER and drove to San Luis Obispo to check on reported newt localities near Cuesta Grade. A clear day, high about 70 F, no wind. Went first to Reservoir (Brizziolari) Canyon, an eastern tributary of San Luis Obispo Creek accessible via a short road off hwy 101 a half mile NE of San Luis Obispo. There is a parking area and a trail starting at a large serpentine outcrop that was once the core of a dam, now washed away. Started here and walked upstream in and along the creek, which was flowing at ca. 4-5 cfs in a narrow riparian corridor with steep chaparral slopes to the S and open serpentine grassland on the N. Went upstream about ¾ mile without seeing any newts or egg masses. The stream looks good but is small and shallow, with relatively few refuge pools. Ashlyn found a Batrachoseps nigriventris under a small log, though in general the leaf litter was too dry.
Monday, March 31, 2014
Series of short-span storms this week, cold fronts passing through rapidly leaving 1-1.5” of rain in 2 hours or so, then becoming cold and clear. This was supposed to culminate on the night of the 31st with a large NW front meeting a subtropical feed from Big Sur southward, with projections of fearful amounts of rain all night. I drove up to Cambria with the idea of meeting this head-on, and finally having conditions where amphibians might be on the road.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Met Juliet at the base of See Canyon Road at 0830 and drove up to Coon Creek Ranch, where we met the owner. The Nature Conservancy has bought a conservation easement on his 4,000 acre property as part of their push to conserve substantially all of the Irish Hills. This ranch is in fact very nice and has been carefully managed to avoid overgrazing and other abuses, but for me the gem is the access it provides to the middle section of Coon Creek, on BLM land sandwiched between Andre and Montana de Oro State Park.