Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mountain magic

I had a real craving for Mount Tam, so off I went this morning. I reached the East Peak summit a few minutes after 9, my car breaking the monotony of the empty parking lot.

This morning was hazy so the views were not great, but I so enjoyed looping around Verna Dunshee Trail and then climbing the Plankwalk to the mountain top. I saw one giant manzanita fully in bloom, but there were no other annuals flowering.

I've never had the summit to myself and I think I may have an early morning habit forming -- it was so quiet I could hear the juncos grunting softly to each other as they picked through the dead oak leaves along the trail.

On the way back down the mountain I stopped at Rock Spring to gauge the wildflower season there. The grasslands seem almost painfully dry. I only saw one milkmaids blooming at the edge of the forest. Lots of bobcat poop though.


Greg said...

Thanks for the update, Jane. I feel a trip to San Bruno and Mt. Tam is in my near future!

Not to get all scatological, but since I'm a scat newbie - how does one tell the difference between bobcat scat and coyote droppings? I see it on the trail all the time, and guess I assumed it was likely coyote - based on the observation that my dogs poop anywhere, but my cats seems to be a bit more 'discerning'...

Jane Huber said...

If you've ever cleaned a cat box, you have an idea what bobcat poop looks like -- the scat is segmented, like a chain of tootsie rolls. The end segment of the poop is rounded. If you are lucky, you might see bobcat poop with some attendant scratching, as they commonly clear the ground before they poop. Here's a link to some photos: http://www.bear-tracker.com/bobcatscat.html

Coyote poop tends to taper off on both ends, and coyotes often poop at trail junctions, so it's common to see piles of poop from different coyotes all together -- they poop to mark territory.

One final help: bobcats are carnivores and coyotes are omnivores, so when you see poop studded with berries, it's a pretty safe bet that it's coyote poop.

Greg said...

Thanks Jane! And thanks also for the links - very helpful! Can't wait to show off these new-found identification skills on my next hike!

LONG-time fan, Greg

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