Friday, January 17, 2014

January or July?

As California officially declares a state of emergency, and the Feds designate 27 of our 58 counties natural disaster areas for the upcoming "Drought of 2014," I submit to you, dear readers, a new California photo-game.

I call it "January or July?"

These photos are from my local fave Edgewood Preserve, which is on the SF Peninsula, just 20 miles south of that infamously cold, wet and foggy City on the Bay.

Are they from January or July?

Hint:  I took them this morning.





I remember 1977, and if the forecast is true - it's going to be a tough year, folks. And not just for us Californios. Get ready for a jump in the cost of fruit and veggies and beef America.

And if you can, keep your fingers crossed for us and our wildlife - because the fires are coming...



  1. I'm not very familiar with your weather, but if these photos are from a winter rainfall area, then I'm shocked (compared to what I'm used to over here in our winter rainfall areas). Do you have any photographs of the same general area a year ago?

    We are also having freaky weather over here in South Africa. Parts of our country has been declared official drought-stricken areas, meanwhile other parts has seen unusual rain and even major flooding outside of the usual raining season...

    Good luck over there, and I hope there is some good rain in your future.

    1. I poked around in my albums and can't find a good example of a similar area and time from the last couple of years, Henry. Probably because I'm used to it being a simple carpet of green with no wildflowers (yet). As you surmised, this is very much a winter rainfall area that get little beyond March-April. We've had 2" of a typical 20" here, and the forecast is for more of the same - nothing.

  2. But the toyon bushes are still bearing their winter berries (photo 1). So, how will the true Californios, the ones that have evolved in this occasional drought-struck climate, respond? Will they stay underground, not breed, not germinate, or go ahead and spit out lots of fruit? Will they relish the post-fire transformation or dry up and blow away? Maybe multi-year droughts and conditions immediately following them is the episodic event I have been looking for to explain the almost-never-seen spread of perennial grasses (per the lovely brown bunches in that last photo).

    1. I consulted the Oracle of Himes, and he said that the perennial grasses can indeed become favored on years such as this one. During the Miracle March year of 91 the winter drought both dramatically reduced and crashed germination of the annual grasses, and then when the rains hit, the established in-waiting perennial grasses responded right away, and well before any annual grasses could germinate and compete.

  3. Interesting. I made a similar comparison of Jan/Jul, too: The carpets of green out in the open (vs. under the trees) don't really seem to appear until well into Mar (I checked my archived Jan-Mar habitat posts rather than rely on fickle memory). John Wall also mentions native Pacific chorus frogs having the home-field advantage over non-native bullfrogs: One thing for sure, I will be keeping my eyes peeled for fire poppies this spring. For now I'm going to stockpile butter before the prices go through the roof.

    1. I'm surprised Wilder doesn't generally green up earlier. Edgewood gets a lot of coastal weather, so is usually mostly green by January. Here are a couple examples from 12/10/10 and 12/31/10 of areas near to my photos above.

    2. You're right. I don't know why I decided Jan and Feb were not green enough yesterday morning. There's often good green in Dec, too. The green green is definitely dominant by Mar, though. I wonder if there'll be great flowers come Mar at Edgewood (it's marked on my calendar and I'd appreciate it if you let me know it's worth a trip up there). Who knows, this may be the year for rarities?

  4. Guess what? The almond trees are starting to bloom up here in Butte County. We may set a record for fires this year, but that's nothing to celebrate.


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