Expedition 20: Plants and animals

December 13, 2023. I decided to get an early start today and had breakfast out. I ended up at a cute old school diner in Walnut Creek with stools at the counter. Friendly people but food was bland. Onward! My first stop was The Lindsay Wildlife Experience. It’s a lot like SF’s Randall Museum and about the same size, smaller than I expected. I felt some of the enclosures seemed too small. I was also disturbed by watching the acorn woodpecker who seemed to be wildly scanning the ceiling of its enclosure for a tree to peck on. Ugh. 

My visit was redeemed by the wildlife presentation. The docent told me it’s usually raptors but it turned out to be Penelope the porcupine, who I’d been disappointed to see was absent from her enclosure (I guess she was backstage rehearsing). So cute! While one presenter talked another lead her with treats to walk up and down logs. I had a front row stump seat. They came pretty close to me and I was thrilled!

I was in the mood for a treat and stopped at a popular bakery (there was a line in the middle of a Wednesday!) for a tasty red velvet cupcake. Then I went to the Ruth Bancroft Garden which was smaller than I remembered. It’s designed to look as natural as possible so the bed markers are hard to see (I missed a bunch) and only a few plants are highlighted in the guide. 

There are no signs in the planter beds. I get it, the idea is to feel as if you’re out in nature, but I was left feeling curious. On the other hand, this is not a botanical garden. Bancroft chose plants to create moods and scenes and I appreciate that. I particularly liked the palm tree with cactus growing from the cup shaped stubs where fronds were cut off. Higher up I could see pine and oak seedlings trying to get a foothold! 

My last stop was the old Borges Ranch. There were six goats and five chickens and no other animals despite what the online reviews say. Most of those reviews are only a few years old so I wonder what happened to the other animals. I love goats but I really wanted to see the pigs! 

I spent most of my time looking at birds. I was excited to see Acorn Woodpeckers flying free. They are so pretty and it’s fun to watch and hear them peck. I heard some pretty loud pecking and discovered one was industriously making a hole in the bathroom wall! I’ve recently gotten into birding and was excited to identify a bushtit, oak titmouse, lesser goldfinch and California towhee! Whee! 

I walked up the trail a bit and saw a sign saying quail habitat. Wow! I sat on a boulder for about 15 minutes but no quail. I walked farther and heard them, but they were far away. So frustrating! On the way back I heard one! I saw it through the brush but then it ran into the shrubs. I know there are quail near where I live; I need to stake out a good viewing spot. 

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