Friday, October 7, 2011

Gerbode Valley Urban Wilderness 10-7-11

          Taking advantage of the last several days before the time change, I headed out to Rodeo Valley in the Marin Headlands after work for a short walk. I started off by hiking up into Gerbode Valley where I immediately spotted a coyote on the hillside. I observed it patiently for a while as it walked a bit further downhill in my direction before lying down in the grasses for a nap.


Camo Coyote

          During my time watching the coyote I nearly stepped on a tiny Garter Snake at the edge of the fire road. I was also delighted to see a couple of Monarchs fluttering along in the fading sunshine.
          I then walked up the Bobcat trail which climbs the south side of Gerbode Valley. I stopped to inspect some deer tracks in the mud and then followed them off the trail where I lost them in the grasses. I walked as far as the rehabilitating meadows of Gerbode Valley with no further sightings of any mammals. I did come across some broken eggshells at the edge of the path and not but 10 yards away I located a tiny hummingbirds nest. The nest was empty but I doubt that the eggshells were from a hummingbird judging by the amount of crushed eggshell material left behind.
          I paced slowly back down the Bobcat trail where I noticed a Buck standing dead still just a few feet off trail almost completely obscured by tall dried fennel stalks. It stared at me in the eyes for a full minute before I started walking down the trail again. It is then that I looked down and saw the same deer tracks I was inspecting earlier and realized they were the tracks of the buck I had just been standing off with. Had I been more attuned to my environment earlier, I probably would have noticed the Buck far sooner than I had.
          As I came to the junction with the Miwok Trail an extremely low flying Northern Harrier seemed to be using the trail like a mammal with feet. In what seemed like slow motion it soared just above the ground until the trail veered out of sight. It was quite funny actually.
          Amused with my sightings I walked quietly back toward my car when I suddenly locked eyes with a cat lying in the reeds about 4 feet to the left of me. At first I was so shocked I thought it was domestic, but I quickly realized it was a small bobcat. It was the first time I've ever had to take a step backwards just to be able to get the cat in focus.


Waking up from a Cat Nap

Gerbode Valley Bobcat

          Initially it looked me over for a moment and then just lay still for a while. It obviously did not find me threatening in the least. Eventually a bicyclist rode up the trail and within an instant of seeing the biker the cat scrammed into the bushes.
          Now the sun was soon setting and I wanted to go to the beach to catch the show. I was extra pumped from my close encounter with another bobcat so I started to jog toward my car. At that moment I consciously thought to myself that if I run as opposed to walk softly, I might spook some wildlife I might otherwise get to see. Nonetheless I picked up the pace only to spook a Coopers Hawk that was perched in the willows at eye level just off trail. But hey, what can you do?
          It was nearly windless as I set off along Rodeo Beach. A cloudless eve eliminated the possibility of a pastel sky, but the sunset is wonderful to catch regardless of the outcome. In a perfect world I would be able to see the sun rise and set every day of the week, but it’s that little thing called work that tends to get in the way.

Sunset at Rodeo Beach

          The moon was rising above the bluffs which were kissed by the last of the suns light.

Marin Headlands Moonrise

          By my car was a Great White Egret perched in a tree with the bright moon shining behind it.

Great White Egret with Moon

          On my drive out of Rodeo Valley just before the tunnel a Great Horned Owl swooped in front of my windshield and landed on a telephone pole near a residence. The silhouette of the owl contrasting with the fading colors to the west.

Great Horned Owl Silhouette


  1. Weird that this is only just now popping up in my reader, months later! Very cool day you had.

  2. John, Yeah I post differently than most. I've been backlogged for a few months now and am playing catch up on the blog. I like to keep the date of when I actually went out so as to keep it reverse chronological. So that is why I'll backdate my postings. Many more posts to come in the next few days. One of these days I hope to be current! Thanks for reading.