Today we did a drive through the backroads of the Sierra Foothills west of highway 49. From Highway 49 we took the Old Toll Rd. to Hornitos to Lake McSwain and Lake McClure back to Hornitos to Bear Valley Rd. to Why. 49. We followed at least in part directions from Toni Faurver’s Wildflower Walks and Roads of the Sierra Gold Country in her Mariposa area section.
The first part of the road is described as hard chaparral. It has Chamise, Grey Pine, White-leaf Manzanita, Buck Brush Ceanothus, Live Oak and Toyon. The later part of the road was Oak Woodland and Oak Savannah and ranches. There was a lot of song by Wrentits. We also saw Chipping Sparrows, Acorn Woodpeckers and Ravens.
There was also a stream running parallel to the road creating moisture for plants that needed it. Flowers in bloom included Blue Dicks, Buttercups, Mtn. Violets, Goldfields, Johnny Tuck, Fringepod or Peppergrass, Popcorn, Fiddleneck, Caespitose or Tufted Poppy, a small Lupine with narrow leaves, a somewhat taller Lupine, and Harvest Brodiaea.
We drove past the outskirts of Hornitos on the way to the Lakes and found Hornitos Rd. less interesting as it was mostly ranch lands. We spotted crested Cormorant, Black Phoebe and Nuttall’s Woodpecker.
When we first went into the Lake McSwain area we were disappointed as we mainly saw only Johnny Tuck, Caterpillar Phacelia, Valley Tassels, an alien purple vetch, and lots of alien Filaree.
However, after we left the picnic areas and main part of the recreation area drove towards Lake McClure; it was a more interesting Oak Woodland. We saw white and blue lupines, Fiddleneck, Valley Tassels, Pretty Face, Harvest Brodiaea, Blue Dicks, Caespitose Poppy, Tomcat Clover and Bush Lupine.
We took Bear Valley Road back, which was somewhat like Old Toll Road, a combination of Oak Woodland, Ranch Lands, and Hard Chaparral. We saw a King-Fisher, Red-Tail Hawk, Western Scrub Jay, and Turkey Vultures. Flowers included Chinese Houses, Fiesta Flower, Fiddlenecks, Woodland Star, Popcorn, Johnny Tuck, Goldfields, Buck-Brush, and Redbud.