San Mateo Canyon - 3/2/02

Mark Walker MWalker at
Sat Mar 9 03:28:37 EST 2002

Last weekend I went out with my children and my best buddy from elementary
school to work on getting my feeble legs back into shape (I'm getting
stronger, and that's the important thing).  We decided to hike an area we
hadn't been in before, so we chose San Mateo Canyon, on the eastern side of
the Santa Ana Mountains in Riverside County.  The habitat is incredible,
with trees and many ferns growing on the north facing slope - and dry
chaparral growing on the opposite slope.  The weather was quite pleasant (as
I'm hoping it will be tomorrow), but there has been such little winter rain
that the canyon was mostly dry.  We did find many tenajas, or standing
pools, in the canyon - and thoroughly enjoyed watching some playful
California Newts in one of them where we stopped for lunch.  Orange cuties
that they are, they have the most adorable little "fingers and toes".
The leps were just getting started here, with most of the usual suspects
present in few numbers.  We did see Tiger Swallowtails and one incredible
freshly emerged Papilio eurymedon (Pale Swallowtail) that flopped gently
among the riparian underbrush.  I was also pleased to see a gorgeous male
Zerene eurydice (California Dogface) come to nectar (there was plenty of
this around).  The most common insect by far was Anthocharis sara (Sara
Orangetip), with energetic males rapidly patrolling the canyon and the
occasional busybody female flopping about for either a place to eat or a
place to lay.  Brown Elfins (Callophrys augustinus) were also flying, as
were both the Silvery Blue (Glaucopsyche lygdamus) and the Echo Blue
(Celastrina ladon echo).  After the hike we explored the National Forest
roads all the way through to Camp Pendleton.  No getting through there, I'm
Dinner at Guadalajara's in old town Lake Elsinore capped off a most
enjoyable day.
Mark Walker
Oceanside, CA
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