Thursday, October 28, 2010

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

If you've ever been to Laguna Beach, you've most likely driven by Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. It sits on the only main road in to Laguna Beach from the freeway that curves its way through sandstone canyons. It was the spot of our nature excursion this week. We headed from the Nix Nature Center under Laguna Canyon Road to Barbara Lake, one of the only remaining natural lakes in Orange County. We couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather.

Some things we saw along the way - click on the pictures for a closer view:

Coast Goldenbush, Isocoma menziesii var. vernonioides

Telegraph Weed,
Heterotheca grandiflora

"Suppose," says Leigh Hunt, "suppose flowers themselves were new! Suppose they had just come into the world, a sweet reward for some new goodness... Imagine what we should feel when we saw the first lateral stem bearing off from the main one, and putting forth a leaf. How we should watch the leaf gradually unfolding its little graceful hand; then another, then another; then the main stalk rising and producing more; then one of them giving indications of the astonishing novelty––a bud! then this mysterious bud gradually unfolding like the leaf, amazing us, enchanting us, almost alarming us with delight, as if we knew not what enchantment were to ensue, till at length, in all its fairy beauty, and odorous voluptuousness, and the mysterious elaboration of tender and living sculpture, shines forth the blushing flower." The flowers, it is true, are not new; but the children are; and it is the fault of their elders if every new flower they come upon is not to them a Picciola, a mystery of beauty to be watched from day to day with unspeakable awe and delight. ~CM, Vol. p.53

Twiggy Wreath Plant, Stephanomeria virgata (Native American boys placed wreath on head of their beloved. If she kept it on, feeling was mutual.)

White nightshade,
Solanum douglasii

...the bright keen eyes with which children are blest were made to see, and see into, the doings of creatures too small for the unaided observation of older people. ~CM Vol. 1, p.57

Ladybug found by a child who noticed it was eating an aphid.

oak gall - galls are abnormal outgrowths caused by a wasp injecting its larvae into the, in this case, oak tree. Larvae develops within the gall until fully grown when it bores a hole through the gall to exit.

another oak gall

Does anyone remember this from YR2 in Burgess Animal Book? The woodrat is the trader. He doesn't like to just take things, he exchanges something in return for what he takes. How fun it would be to have one nearby to initiate frequent trades with to investigate their trading habits.

woodrat nest

Crown Whitefly pupae, Aleuroplatus coronata

This was just too sweet a bit of nature to miss...

rabbit skull

possibly artist's fungus or turkey tail fungus?

8 and 9yo girls' nature journals and collections

38yo Mama's nature journal :)

We had so much fun a couple of us couldn't resist going back today. This time, we parked in the Willow Canyon Staging Area just South of El Toro Rd. and ventured out on the Laurel Canyon Trail.


(notice the bed of fresh green growth from our recent rains.)

And more caves to explore. Notice the patch of prickly pear on the way up to the cave on this steep climb - adds that extra dimension of daring to an already adventurous climb :)

wolf spider

ichneumon wasp - look closely, can you see it's ovipositor inserted in the oak tree? I checked but this doesn't seem to be the wasp that creates the galls we see.

Fearless - with two darkling beetles. Do you remember in Pooh Bear's Expotition to the North Pole? This one was the very last of rabbit's relations. If it's scared enough, it sticks its head in the dirt!

Another woodrat nest - this one in the branches of a very large oak.

Two cabbage white's mating - the female is on the right. Look at her eye and punky hair!

Solpugid, aka Wind scorpion or Sun Spider

And last but not least, a beautiful ending to another wonder filled day.

Wordsworth, as quoted by CM, Vol. 1, p.50

Though absent long,
These forms of beauty have not been to me

As is a landscape to a blind mans eye;

But oft, in lonely rooms,
and mid the din
Of towns and cities,
I have owed to them,
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;

And passing even into my purer mind,

With tranquil restoration.


  1. Naomi, that was a gorgeous outing. How fun to return today. I am so happy that you research all the finds. What incredible pictures you have. The ovipositor? Are you kidding?! Amazing.

    I figured that was a woodrat skull, but somehow rabbit skull sounds so much more sanitary for cute Arica to be handling. We'll have to update our nature journals.

    I'm enjoying the newfound interest in fungi. I'm looking for a living book on mushrooms. I should have started with Comstock's HNS.

    Lovely quotes too.

  2. I know, ovipositor, isn't that amazing? Arica discovered it on an oak tree. Blows my mind what else we must walk by unnoticed every day. I'll have to revisit Comstock's book also. I'm wondering if some types are only there because of the recent rains. Kids want to take Daddy back this weekend, he's never been there :)

  3. Oh my Naomi, what a feast for the eyes! Your pictures are fantastic, and you do not miss a beat! There were a few things I saw that I had completely forgotten about, but my curiousity was peaked when I had seen them... and here you are with pictures and answers... I love it, and am so grateful to you :) I feel like our outtings lately have been so rich, truly treasured. Adore the picture of the girls at the picnic table.

    What a fantastic quote you included, and so inspiring! "The flowers, it is true, are not new; but the children are; and it is the fault of their elders if every new flower they come upon is not to them a Picciola, a mystery of beauty to be watched from day to day with unspeakable awe and delight." ~CM

  4. I just love these pictures! It is so interesting to see the flora and fauna of different regions. What a terrific place to explore! I've been to Laguna Beach, but not to the Wilderness park.

  5. What a great post! Thanks for documenting our adventure Naomi!

  6. So beautiful!
    This is an inspiring post, Naomi.
    And aren't those caves amamzing?
    My kids love them.
    Love form,

  7. Speaking of Picciola - from that CM quote - I googled it and found this short story on the Baldwin Project. I wonder if it's what she was referring to: http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=baldwin&book=fifty&story=picciola