Hands-on-learning. Great fun.

On Sunday, I returned to the Camino Corto vernal pools with camera in hand to continue my hobby of photographic discovery, while walking. While I do better at taking photos solo, sharing and discussing them with others heightens the “funness”. Even nicer, is when some of those photos are used for the enjoyment and education of others. After a request a few years ago, I sent out pictures to be used for signs at vernal pools. I had no idea if they were used, and where and when. I came across them at Camino Corto on two interpretative signs.

One of the signs explained that “The Goleta and Devereux Sloughs were once connected, forming an arc that encircled the Isla Vista mesa. The sloughs are the lungs of the watershed that reaches up to the mountains, and provides habitat for birds, fish, reptiles, mammals and their predators. Despite all the bulldozing and development of the area, the sloughs are still functional. The Del Sol and Camino Corto vernal pools were once part of that watershed.”

2011May01_236(Ring of flowers around drying vernal pool)

The vernal pools are drying up, and some had dried to the point where there were  “rings of flowers” as noted by a reader.  (Some of the rings of flowers seem to have moved slowly toward the center as the pool dried, and the flowers eventually covered the  pool.) The flowers were mostly tiny Popcorn flower, Dwarf Woolly Heads, Coyote Thistle among the various rushes, etc.

2011May01_321(Coyote Thistle flower)

2011May01_110(Dwarf Woolly Head)

While examining the tiny plants for better capture, I came across a Pacific Tree Frog and also a “dragonfly exuvia”. From A General Guide to Dragonfly Exuviae; “When a larval dragonfly or damselfly climbs out of the water and emerges as a flying adult, it leaves its larval exoskeleton – or skin – behind. These skins are called exuviae.”

2011May01_146(Pacific Tree Frog)

2011May01_261(Dragonfly exuvia)

After walking toward another of the many vernal pools I encountered a Cassin’s Kingbird, a predator,  that had landed on a rock to eat a just-caught dragonfly. And so the cycle of life goes on.

2011May01_201(Cassin’s Kingbird)

I learned about two types of Spikerush in the vernal pool on More Mesa, and which I recognized on Camino Corto — Common Spikerush, which stands up straight, and Needle Spikerush, which tends to fall over in mats.

2011May01_164(Common Spikerush)

2011May01_197 (Needle Spikerush)