Outing to Ano Nuevo

The final outing I made with my friend was to Ano Nuevo, a State Natural Reserve where elephant seals mate and raise their young. I've visited Ano Nuevo many times, usually in winter to watch the fights between the males and in spring to see the babies (called weaners). All my visits have been wonderful, but a June visit is maybe my favorite. I just wish I'd brought my camera, the Ano Nuevo photos were all made by my friend. Luckily, she's a great photographer and the picture really capture the mood.

Above, a pond with natural rushes that's home to some rare frogs. The pond is on the way to the beaches where the elephant seals hang out, and we enjoyed the peaceful scene, with birds singing and the first sounds of the surf.

Further on, the truly extraordinary part of the walk began: The path was lined with Lupinus arboreus (yellow bush lupine), Abroina (yellow sand verbena) and other native plants.

I was very surprised to see so much in bloom, I'd forgotten how just a 40 mile difference can send you into a completely different climate zone. We enjoyed the walk, punctuated by the sound of seagulls, and the surf. Many lizards crossed our path. And then we started to hear the sounds of the elephant seals. Another half hour later, we finally arrived at the staging area, and got our first glimpse of the seals lying on the beach.

The docent explained to us that at this time of the year, the young males come to shore to molt. They lose all their fur, and start fresh. Interestingly, they also practice fighting, so we knew now why we'd heard them from so far. In contrast to the adult bulls, the teenagers practice in the water.

We watched for quite a while, and enjoyed to smells and sounds of the sea. Then we drove back home (with a short stopover at the Country Mouse abode).

Once home, I found to my great delight that the Dietis (fortnight lily) had started to open a multitude of blossoms.

A native of Africa, this plant (which is not a lily) can get by with fairly little water and puts out blossoms every 7-21 days. Another plant inherited from the previous owner, Dietis reseeds fairly agressively, so I always break off the seedheads right after the bloom. But when many plants go summer dormant, Dietis is at its best so it gets to stay in the garden.

Not to be outdone, the native Monardella villosa is blooming abundantly on the other side of the path. I've turned off the irrigation in that part of the garden, but Monardella does not seem to mind.

It was a great ending to a wonderful day. I was only sorry that my friend had to leave so soon. It was so much fun to explore our part of California, and to then come home and enjoy the garden.


Tatyana said…
Dear Town Mouse, your friend took excellent pictures and you wrote a great story! What a great day you had!
Helen said…
What a perfect day. Ano Nuevo sounds so peaceful, and I find all sea mammals fascinating.
Country Mouse said…
I love how you provided the sound track to go with the photographs - really brought it to life. I've just discovered Monardella villosa growing on a steep bank near my place. A cliff really, that gets late afternoon sun. I hope it's growing wild - not escaped from a garden. I want to collect its seeds!
My house came with a couple dietes that I removed to make room for other things, but as you say they self-sow effectively. One mature seedling has found its way to the perfect spot, so at least one spawn of the original plants will probably get to live. Aside from spreading so much, they're actually pretty satisfying plants.

And thanks for the trip to Ano Nuevo. My list of places to visit someday has just gotten longer. Beautiful place. Like you I'm surprised that some of the plants were still blooming.