Thursday, June 30, 2011

Marin Hike - Lake Lagunitas Loop - 6-30-11

          I headed out after work to Lake Lagunitas for a relaxing stroll around the lake.
          From the parking lot I made my way up the short but steep fire road to the east side of the dam. The sun was shining and I spent several minutes observing the dragonflies along the shoreline.

Eight Spotted Skimmer

Cardinal Meadowhawk or Flame Skimmer

          As usual several turtles were sunning themselves on the wake logs. I was glad to see the native Pond Turtles outnumbering the Red Sliders.

Western Pond Turtle

          I proceeded up the short set of stairs and continued walking clockwise around the lake. Although this trail can be quite popular, I was lucky enough to have the place pretty much to myself save for several mountain bikers.
          I took several different spur trails each leading down to the shoreline where I enjoyed the views out over the lake. Each time I approached the shore I could hear bullfrogs croak before plummeting into the water for safety.
I stalked slowly over to the edge of a small creek and scanned the area for frogs trying to spot one before it leapt out of sight. The frogs are very skittish; however, I did manage to find one that was brave enough to stick around long enough for me to fire off a few frames.

Non-Native Bullfrog


          Bullfrogs are not native to the area and are actually a threat to some of the native frogs.
          I kept my eyes open for Rein Orchids which occasionally bloom around Lake Lagunitas but did not come across any. Perhaps it is still too early.
          The trail climbs away from the lake a bit as you approach the west shore offering views of Pilot Knob.
          As dusk approached the mosquitoes came out in full force. Each time I stopped along the shoreline I was getting eaten. I continued onward stopping at a couple of benches with views along the way. Again Pilot Knob dominated the landscape beyond the lake.

Pilot Knob Reflected in Lake Lagunitas

          Once I reached the other end of the dam I descended along the spillway and was back at my car.
          As I was driving back towards Sky Oaks Ranger Station I spotted several Turkeys which often occupy the grassy meadow. Upon closer observation I noticed a coyote watching keenly from about 15 feet beyond the Turkeys. I pulled over at a nearby pullout and left the car running and used my car as a blind so as not to startle the coyote.

Coyote Watches Wild Turkey

          I thought I might get to see some action but the coyote just seemed to be watching carefully. I waited about ten minutes or so before the coyote lost interest and trotted further down the trail. I followed it with my eyes and soon realized it was heading for another coyote waiting on a nearby hillside.

Second Coyote

          I have seen this pair of coyotes once before in this same area and have assumed they are a mating pair? I was hoping to get a shot with both coyotes but the chance never did arise. Once the two coyotes united they darted out of sight.
          It was a great ending to a very mellow hike.


  1. Wow...what a lot of wildlife in one evening! Great post!

  2. Some really nice photos, Cole.

    Every time I try to get closer to a dragonfly to snap a photos, they decide to take off and leave me empty handed - maybe it is time to get a proper zoom!

  3. Thanks, Marin's Watershed happens to be blessed with an abundance of wildlife.

  4. Hendrik - Yes the zoom definitely helps. Those shots were taken with a 300mm lens.