Tennessee Valley Trail – newts, birds, thistles, and waves.

Went for a wander on the Tennessee Valley Trail in Marin County yesterday. There was sooo much to see and hear! It was uniquely wonderful being away from the constant onslaught of background noise in the city. I could actually hear the waves crashing in the distance more than a mile away from the shore … in addition, meadowlarks, hawks, ravens, insects, wind in the grasses and just the silence. I saw many unique plants including springtime’s burgeoning pussywillows along the stream, splashy striped milk-thistles, and waving marsh-grasses. 

 

Milk thistle beside the path – the white stripes really do look like drizzles of milk on the glossy green leaves. 

We also saw many animals – a long legged heron of some sort standing upwards of the path, his feathers ruffling in the wind (probably just got done fishing in the freshwater pond), odd grape-clustered barnacles clinging to rocks by the roiling waves, tiny brown limpets crammed into all the cracks in the rocky face of the cliff, little brown thrushes or sparrows flitting amongst the pussywillows, and finally at the end of the trail, a cute tiny little lizard in brick red with lime green eyes. It turns out, when I got home, that it might be identified as a Rough Skinned Newt (juvenile phase), although I’m not sure if they have green eyes. It looks about the same though, and was crawling along the path nearby the stream where it might have originated. Of course, I picked it up and put it off the path so no runners would stomp on it, and realized after getting home and looking it up that it’s a toxic little beastie (tetrodotoxin to be precise). Oops. I suppose I’m used to living in Maine where nothing out there is really poisonous/venomous/dangerous. I will have to read up quite soon on California flora/fauna. What is a good resource or book I can get from the library? 

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