Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Day of Natural Bridges and Nature

We made it to the beach this week to see the hole in this rock at Natural Bridges State Park near Santa Cruz, California. Seriously, I was not so impressed with this doughnut in the sandstone for some reason. What do you think?


I did like seeing the comradeship shown by the three birds sitting on the bare rock. I love that in the animal world there is none of the fighting over land like we humans seem to find necessary. This brown pelican, cormorant and seagull can all share and the world is still spinning on it's axis.


The heavy bomber-like bodies of the brown pelicans gliding over the shoreline brought no threat of confrontation. Just peaceful thoughts and noises.


And, the sounds of children digging in the sand were barely audible over the churning of the waves against the land.


The strands of seaweed provided botany education for Ella. She wanted to know what the bladders were at the end of the strands. The little balloon-like pods filled with air allow the seaweed to float in the ocean providing buoyancy in the surf.



Then we walked away from the shoreline to visit a grove of eucalyptus trees.


These non-native invasive plant species have taken over acres of land in California. But amazingly something good happened along the way.

There is something in this tree. Can you see it???? Look very closely before scrolling down.


Did you find them? Here's a hint: They float through the air like liquid butter.





Monarchs! Thousands of monarch butterflies winter in the eucalyptus trees at this beach. This particular grove of trees is slightly sheltered by the shallow drainage they occur in which provides protection from the wind.

Here is a mature eucalyptus being climbed by English ivy (another non-native WEED). However, the monarchs actually feed on the ivy nectar. But the ivy will eventually kill the eucalyptus trees.


The monarchs gather in clusters on dangling branches in the mid canopy of these trees. They sleep in groups for warmth until spring comes and they fly away to lay eggs on milkweeds plants throughout the coast and inland. Then they die. Their whole life cycle is about six to eight months.



Finally, do you know what this picture shows below? I will follow up with the answer next time.


Have a great weekend folks!!! I need to make visits to all my friends in blogland. It's been a full week...

20 Comments for OSL:

Yaya said...

LOVE the group of monarchs!

Ella is getting so big.

Is that the rock from the movie Goonies?

Doris Sturm said...

Hello Julia!

Looks like you guys had a very nice outing. I remember when I lived in California I used to go to Laguna Beacha almost every weekend. That's a great place to take kidst too to climb on the rocks and find seaurchins and stuff... I always enjoyed the sound of the ocean, even though I'm more of a mountain gal, having been born and raised in Bavaria, Germany, but I just love everything nature ;-)

That must've been a sight to see all those monarchs huddled together. I've only seen it on TV when I watched the incredible migration of the butterflies (actually I watched it on the computer) and I saw where they gather in Mexico and cling to the trees there...wow! I've never seen that where I lived in Calif.

How old is your daughter, Ella? I loved that picture of her with her paci in and your new cat, Bingo, trying to climb on her back...did you break him off that yet?

Enjoy your weekend!

The Mind of a Mom said...

It is beautiful there, it's wonderful that the kids were able to play along the beach! Not here especially this time of year.

Olde Dame Penniwig said...

I think your scientific mind sees a large rock with a hole -- the result of weathering and the action of the sea. Others see it as somehow non-natural, perhaps, and it gives a feeling of charm to it for them.

But your botanist's mind is too strict for all that -- I had to laugh to see you capitalize WEED about the poor misplaced ivy...

But the "sweetie Julia" shone through in your delight about the butterflies!

Before you revealed it was butterflies in the trees, I was seeing snakes and alligators all in them...lol...imagination...

Pricilla said...

I love brown pelicans....

Ms Snarky Pants said...

I have no idea what that picture shows. Looks like you had a fun trip. Is Ella's tonka truck pink???? Cause that's freakin awesome!

Melodie said...

What a wonderful day! The butterflies were beyond words,I would have loved for my son to have seen that!And the beach,well,who doesn't love the ocean!I am particularly fond of places where the cold wind blows in from the sea,waves crashing against the rocks....

San-Dee said...

I. am. so. jealous. I miss Natural Bridges so much. I'm so glad you take such great photos, Julia, because it brings CA back to me. Good to see/hear that kids are still having fun there. Did you go out on the rocks to see if there were any mussels?

I can't wait til your kids are big enough to ride the wooden roller coaster in sunny Santa Cruz (is it even still there?)
xxooxx

blueviolet said...

You could be a teacher. I always learn so much from you. I just love it all!

The monarchs are gorgeous and the natural arches are spectacular.

Vixen said...

Holy crap woman. I have been there probably 100 times and I learned more on this 'digital' visit than i ever did. You should take me with you everywhere you go.

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

I like the bridge, but I couldn't figure out the Monarch's till you told us. I sure wasn't thinking of anything along those lines.

Ratty said...

So many great pictures! This must have been a wonderful day. That walkway in the sixth picture is the kind of thing that fascinates me. The butterflies and the beach pictures are also great. I've never seen so many butterflies.

EL said...

Wow, i think the pictures are gorgeous actually and the rock - well, kinda impressive. on the east coast, i've seen nothing of this sort! glad u guys enjoyed some great scenery (even if u weren't super impressed haha)

Rural Rambler said...

So, I have to say that the rock with the hole is very cool and I would have to get out there and sit in the water. Only on a warm day. It is one hunk of rock and I love the close-up of the birds. Your beach day looks relaxing and fun and I love the things I learned in this post too! I don't know what the last picture shows but I am going to check back to find out you betcha :)

Mel said...

I love, love, love the mountains here in Montana, but I do miss the beach. I used to teach environmental ed in that area and loved coming upon a bunch of Monarchs with the kids. It's just magical. Looks like a great day. We went cross-country skiing and sledding this weekend. I think our weather is a little different ;)

Sara said...

The hole is pretty cool. Love the monarch pictures! As for the final picture, sycamore tree peed on the evergreen?

the ungourmet said...

What a beautiful time at the beach! I loved seeing the Monarchs!

There are going to be lots of meteor showers tonight beginning around 1 am our time. Are you going to watch? Is it dark enough around your house?

Frogs in my formula said...

I love all those butterflies. You take such great photos. I also love your daughter's pink truck. That is too cute. Looks like you had a lovely time.

Carol said...

I think the arch is beautiful! I think the forest is wondrous with the Monarchs roosting. What a joy! You do not have to go to Mexico ... they rest right in your back yard practically. I do so love these butterflies and have raised many hundreds over the last twenty years. Lucky you!! Carol

KateMc said...

I can't beleive you have Eucalypts in California. Such a wonder mass of butterflys.