too many words by laura lemay

hiking and wildlife

I’ve been remiss about posting photos. So I’ll collect them all here and get them out of the way.

I looked out the window last week and this critter (felis rufus, the north american bobcat) was out on the lawn stalking gophers. By the time I had run downstairs, found my digital camera and fussed about with it, he or she had pounced, reached into the hole, and come up empty-pawed, which explains the sour expression. I was going to post this on cat blogging day but I forgot.

I went for a hike a few weeks back out on the ridge. I am fortunate to live within a very short drive of a whole lot of really excellent open space areas for hiking (I could hike from my house if I didn’t mind walking three miles straight up). On weekdays there is no one else out on the trails so its totally still and quiet and peaceful (I bring my ipod :). Even on weekends it seems that if you hike more than a mile or so from the parking lot the crowds thin out. Two miles from the parking lot and its really empty again. People are weenies.

I took a bunch of panoramic view pictures when I was out on the trail — you know, take a picture, turn 20 degrees, take another one — with the intent of stitching them together in Photoshop. This was harder than I thought it would be and it took bloody forever. The pictures were only taken seconds apart and yet they refused to match up. I could match the colors with brightness and contrast and masking but I also had trouble with the SIZES — if I lined up the clouds the hills didn’t line up. Very puzzling. Obviously there is a trick to it that I don’t know, or perhaps I am just impatient. I should stick to words. Anyhow, this is the result of my panoramic experiments; this is from the top of the hill on Skyline Rd looking east across northern silicon valley (Palo Alto in the south to San Mateo or so in the north).

At the entrance to the park where I was hiking there was a big sign that warned that it was tarantula mating season and to watch out for spiders on the trails. Tarantulas, ha ha, right, thought I, and continued on my way. And then a mile or so in this guy darted right across my path. Of course I had to poke him a little to get him back onto the road so I could take his picture (Eric: “Ahhhh! Don’t do that! tarantulas JUMP and they BITE!”). He (the tarantuala) was a good sized spider, like two inches across, smaller than the pet tarantulas you see in stores or in movies, and brown (as you can see).

Since then I’ve seen a bunch more tarantulas. They keep running across the road in front of me when I’m on my bike, as if to threaten me (“you poked my brother! You must die now!”). I’m usually too far down the road before I realize oh yeah, I have a camera phone, but you don’t really need that many pictures of tarantulas anyhow.

I also saw a small gopher snake sunning itself on the trail. I didn’t poke him.